DISCLAIMER: Criminal Minds and its characters are the property of CBS. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The text on the left is in Emily's POV and the text on the right is in JJ's POV.
SPOILERS: 3x02 In Birth and Death, 3x20 Lo-Fi, 4x07 Memoriam.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

I'm Yours
By gilligankane


i. you touch these tired eyes of mine

After the case is over, when you're lying on the couch as the plane rumbles beneath your shivering body, you glance to the left – just once – and feel your heart skip a beat. If there's one thing you learned this time – because you learn something during every case, whether you want to or not – it's that Debbie Lawson took the life she had, and people in it, and the opportunities presented to her, for granted.

Life's too short to be taking things for granted.

You close your eyes, repeating the words over and over like a slow song, a mantra to sing you to sleep and the gentle hum of the plane engines help to lull you to fall into nothingness – just blackness and warm feelings.

Her hands are what wake you, her slender fingers grasping your shoulder, because you were crying in your sleep again, and you feel your whole body shake when those slender hands – the ones you can hold for hours – slide across the empty space beneath your eyes, the tears fall faster and harder and you can taste the salt on your tongue.

You couldn't save Debbie Lawson, and the day will come when you won't be able to save someone else, but as she wipes away your tears, you're okay for now.

ii. and map my face out line by line

Two more tough cases – all the cases are tough, but these ones have little kids and women that look like you – and then Hotch makes an executive decision, giving you a rare day off. When you still wake as the sun hits the window, filters in through the curtains and settles down on your face, warming your cooled body, you almost want to paint your windows black and keep the sun out forever. But when you roll over and bury your face into the cool pillow, you hear her laugh and feel her fingers tracing your body – over your shoulder blade, down one arm, back up, and across your collar bone.

"What's the story morning glory?" You ask her, repeating something Reid had said to you the other day, but your words are muffled and she just laughs a little harder.

"Don't ever say that again, please." Her fingers slip under the fabric of the pillow and find your chin. The sun casts a halo over her head and this time, when your heart skips a beat, you don't even notice.

"I can't make any promises" but the words fall off your tongue without any sound, because her hands are cupping your face and she's staring at you as if she hasn't seen you every morning, every day, every night, for the last two years of your life. "What are you…"

"Shhh." She smiles softly in the morning light and you're speechless. You close your eyes as you fall back on the pillow and her fingers trace the lines of your face, memorizing every little inch.

It's a good day off.

iii. and somehow growing old feels fine

You're not the woman you used to be. The job has drained you – you know – and you'd rather spend your nights sleeping than partying with everyone else you know.

You feel older than you ever have and part of you is afraid that one day, she'll pack up her life in cardboard boxes and leave you for something else – for someone else younger and more vibrant and active – and it scares you so much more than you'd care to admit. You're afraid she'll stop loving you, and you know, if she ever did, you'd never survive.

"If you want, you can go," you hear yourself say. "Well, not that you need my permission, but you know…" She mercifully saves you from making a fool of yourself, but you're serious. It's a weekend and there are no cases yet, and the offer to go bar-hopping was thrown onto the table again.

She smiles at you –full blown grin with the lighting of the bullpen reflecting off of it – and laces her fingers through your hand instead, ever-so-lightly pulling you in the direction of the door. "Well, that's really nice of you, allowing me to go out," she jokes darkly. "But since I've got free will and all, I've decided to spend my night curled up in a blanket, in this apartment I know that overlooks the city with my adorable little boy, and I think I'll watch "The Shop Around The Corner" and maybe even "Doctor Zhivago" if I want too."

Her hand slips out of yours and she strides to the elevator, pressing the down button and watching the numbers light up. When it comes to your floor, she gets on and you watch as she leans against the railing with a smirk on her face.

"Oh, you can come, if you want," she adds as the doors close.

iv. i listen close for i'm not smart

Movie nights come and go, and even though you're still surprised she's falling asleep in your bed every night, you forget the little things – even though you're trained to notice the little things.

Like the three year anniversary of your first kiss.

And the three year anniversary of the first time you told her loved her.

Or the three year anniversary of her first night spent in your bed.

She remembers though, because she has always remember little things like that – she was the only one who remembered the exact date Gideon packed his things and left his family behind. And because you missed your anniversary – the anniversary that really counts – for the last two years, you know you should start paying attention when she starts dropping words like "peanut butter" and "firehouse" in seemingly normal conversations.

It reminds you that there once was a time when you would get cryptic 3 a.m. text messages about sandwiches and fire engines and when you opened your door she was already pushing past you, hands around your neck; that there once was a time where what you were doing – you didn't want to label it then – wasn't spoken of, and you spent your days pining away and your nights grasping the impossible.

But that time is long gone, and when she mentions how her dad and his Dalmatian Sloan are coming to visit and you need to stock up on jelly – which is possibly one of the more stupid things she's ever said – your head shoots up so quickly your neck cracks.

Before you go home, you stop at the jewelers and pick up that sapphire ring that matches her eyes.

v. you wrap your thoughts in works of art

Every woman missing, only to turn up later, neck sliced open and tear streaks down their faces, looks exactly like her. Every. Single. One. Of. Them.

When they're laid out on the ME's table, with sheets covering their bodies, they look like angels. They look like her when she sleeps. The ME watches you as you stare at the women unnaturally, but you can't pull your eyes away, fixated on one though: they all look just like her.

It's Hotch who manages to pull you out of the morgue, telling you he needs someone to talk to the victim's loved ones so you leave the bodies where they lie and make your way out into the real world, where people are still alive, and where she's standing at the other end of the precinct, watching your face freeze in a grim frown, mirroring your team leader's own face.

You can't talk to her, because you'll break into pieces, scattered across the ground like glass, and you can't afford that. The blond haired, blue eyed, 30-something women of this town can't afford it.

"Ready?" Morgan's deep voice pulls you out of your nightmare and you nod once, realizing how little your head moved, and then nod again. He opens the SUV door for you and when you settle into the deep seat, you feel paper crinkle under you.

You recognize her writing – the slanting and the sloping of her letters – instantly and you feel your heart rate decelerate, the thumping in your chest slows.

"Just remember that I love you and I'm not going anywhere. Not if you're the one protecting me."

You catch her standing in the precinct doorway, her hip pressed into the side of the building, one hand over her eyes to block out the harsh Georgia sunlight.

Suddenly you can breathe again.

vi. and they're hanging on the walls of my heart

She's gone for the day – her brother is in the city and wanted to spend the day with his baby sister and his nephew; you politely declining, claiming to catch up on sleep – and the silence of the place you've started to call home is starting to hit you hard, settling into the corners of the rooms and your mind.

You're on the couch when you look up – really look up – and notice that the wall of the main hallway is littered with pictures you don't remember hanging. It's not your thing, it never has been, because you've never stayed in one place long enough to place pictures anywhere before. You've never been in one place long enough to call it home before.

You start at the end near the kitchen, eyes wandering over the rough edges of the wooden frames that stand out against the cranberry colored walls. There are pictures of the team; of you and her and Garcia at the company picnic; of you and 'your boys' at Hotch's barbeque; of you and her, wrapped up in each other; of you and her and Henry, grinning for the camera ridiculously.

The pictures line the wall and even if you've never seen them before, never really paid attention to them before, you remember every single one of them and you can't help the smile that slides easily onto your face.

Every single picture is a memory and you walk up and down the hall too many times to count before she comes back through the door, and when she does, you're standing at the end of the hall, hammer in hand, picture frames scattering the floor around you.

It's your turn to hang your favorite memories.

vii. you healed these scars over time

Days – weeks, months, years – after the accident, you still wake up with muted screams and your skin on fire. You still clutch the sheets desperately, feeling the heat of the blast, hearing the screams and the car alarms and the sirens. You still wake up in New York sometimes, hearing her scream your name so loud that it rings in your ears and feeling her hand slip from yours.

It's ridiculous, because New York was so long ago – a distant blimp on the past radar – and you're supposed to have been over this stupid nonsense.

Sometimes, you're haven't.

You frantically search for her in bed, your hands flying across the silken sheets but she's already there, wrapping you in her arms, whispering that it's going to be okay, that you're going to be fine, that she's got you. Her hands trace your face, your shoulders, your arms, gentle and a reminder of that night, when she climbed into the bed with you in that hospital room, her tears falling onto the white sheets and her voice cracking, because she'd almost lost you. Forever.

When you wake up in your own bed, years after New York, and she's right there, you calm down instantly. Your little boy is sleeping in the next room, and the woman you're in love with is rocking you back and forth in her arms, telling you its okay to be scared.

And again, just like every single night this has happened, you're in awe; in awe of the woman who stumbled into your life and picked you back up and glued the broken pieces back together; in awe of the woman who made everything better.

You close your eyes and feel safe, and it's just another night in her arms.

viii. embraced my soul

It's cold out – freezing even – but Henry insisted and flashed his charming little smile and his shiny blue eyes in her direction, and she broke like she always did, and you ended up throwing on layer after layer to go play outside in the snow. You're on the bench in the courtyard by her apartment (your apartment, you remind yourself) and he's buried under a pile of snow, calling out to her, so she'll free him.

She always does, because she'd move the world for him if he asked her to.

It's not until they build a snowman and a snowwoman and a snowbaby and a fort and make a couple of snow angels that Henry announces he's decided he's had enough of the snow. She scoops him up and tosses him over her shoulder and he laughs, the sound of his little voice echoing off the emptiness and solitude of the little park. You can't help but grin widely, kissing her as she passes by with your son perched high above the ground.

You trust her not to let him fall.

It still gets to the corners of your heart – as you watch them burrowed into the deepest corner of the cushy couch, his little body nestled in her arms, both of them sound asleep – that this woman gave up her single life and her single apartment – her future – without a second though and without a single voiced regret in 4 years, 8 months, and 21 days. She gave it up for a little blond-haired, blue-eyed boy who has her wrapped around his little fingers, and even if sometimes, you wonder if this is what she really wants, if this is how she ever imagined her life would turn out.

"Hey," she whispers, breaking your thoughts. She's coming off the couch, readjusting him in her arms. "I'm going to put him to bed. You coming?" You stare up at her, your disbelief probably clear in your eyes, but she smiles reassuringly anyway, leans down to kiss your forehead and heads down the hallway, aware you're going to be close behind. He's spilling out of her arms, one leg draped over her forearm, and his head rolling from her shoulder to her elbow with each step she takes. But it's okay.

You trust her not to let him fall.

ix. you loved my mind

Sunday mornings come and go too quickly for you to count, and you spend them protesting the spinning of the Earth, wrapped up in your over-indulgent sheets, wrestling with Henry for the sports section, protesting – almost childishly – that he can't read anyway, so what on earth does he want to sports section for; shaking your head when he insists he knows what the box scores mean; snorting when he whispers too loud, asking her what the numbers mean anyway. They're in on it together; you're convinced, because as long as Henry keeps the sports section away from you, she can ask you ridiculous questions, filling in her New York Times Crossword puzzle.

She's convinced you're smarter than her, that you know more words, and you're wasting your talents pining away after your precious sports teams, and you protest – halfheartedly, as her mouth moves from your neck to the spot under your ear and Henry covers his eyes and exclaims "eww!" and "I'm telling Auntie Garcia!" – that you hate the crossword and anyway, she's smarter than you.

"But I'm not," she tells you, just like every Sunday.

"You are." She raises an eyebrow and you keep your mouth shut, because she can't stand it when you passive-aggressively put yourself down, because you used to do that before her, when Henry almost had a mommy and a daddy, instead of two mommies.

That person is gone, you're sure of it, and the one that's left has decided that knowing who Redskins isn't truly important, and that teaching Henry to read the box scores can't wait another day, and that maybe the Times Crossword isn't as awful as you thought it was.

Suddenly, you're not only protesting the spinning of the world, but you're hoping that Sunday's last forever.

x. you're the only angel in my life

The dusts settles, and even if it's still hazy, you can see shapes of people you think you know and you feel yourself relax; feel your heart stop racing and your chest stop rising and falling sporadically. The chain on your wrists hold you back, but you struggle against them anyway, pulling hard on the hastily tied rope, knowing that the warm sensation you're feeling on your fingers is the blood seeping from your wrists, but you're okay with that.

The body next to you is slumped away from you, blood seeping out of the man's chest, his knife on the ground by his lifeless hand – because he had been that close to killing you – and you know he's not a threat any longer, but you're still desperate to get away from him; to get as far away from him as you can.

Before you know what's happening, she's crouched in front of you, her eyes frantic and a blur as she inspects every inch of your face, going over every visible patch of skin. She slips he hands behind you, her long fingers working to untie you, and when she does, you collapse rather ungracefully into her arms and you're not sure which one of you is trying harder not to cry.

"You're safe," she whispers simply into your ear and that's all it takes for you to let go.

You forget about Dylan Harris and the women he slaughtered. You forget about the way the gun felt pressed against your forehead while he argued with Hotch over the reasons he should keep you alive. You forget about the thoughts racing through your mind, the way you imagined her breaking the news to Henry.

You forget as she holds you tighter to her familiar body and rocks you back and forth on the dusty floor in the basement, because you're safe now, in her arms.

xi. the day news came my best friend died

It's Henry who answers the phone, yelling merrily that it's Uncle Morgan, whispering to you as he handed the phone over, that his "big, bad" uncle sounded sad. You wait until he skips out of the room, shouting her name, claiming that it's his turn to be player one in their weekend-long Scrabble tournament, before lifting the phone to your ear.

"Hey Morgan." You try for casual, but your heart jumps into your throat and your breath hitches in his ear.

"God, Jayj…" his voice trails off and the world seems to spin in front of you, growing blurry and not really there.

You hear the words accident, and too late, and we tried and I'm sorry, but you don't hear the filler and when he says the word dead you instinctively slam the phone down so hard that you miss the cradle and the handset clatters against the hardwood floor and you can still hear him crying.

It's a surreal moment, a moment you're not prepared for, a moment that you never saw coming. Morgan is still crying and you're staring at the phone with one hand over your mouth and Henry is giggling in the next room and she's moving, because you can hear her feet against the carpet in the living room, coming your way.

"What the…" but she stops, because you're turning to face her, and because Morgan is somehow even louder when the phone is away from your ear.

She doesn't ask what happened. She just catches you as you fall and she falls with you, picks up the phone, and you watch her face go white before she starts to cry too.

xii. my knees went weak and you saw me cry

At the funeral, Henry doesn't know what to do, and you're just as helpless. He ends up clutching his tiny little arms around her neck, aware that something is wrong, and you follow suit, clutching one of her hands in both of yours, like somehow, her stoic strength will become yours, if you hold on tight enough.

When the service is over, Morgan takes Henry from her, and you hurry to the bathroom, because the coffee you forced yourself to drink this morning is coming back up and you've lost the willpower to keep it down any longer. She's two steps behind you, and when your knees hit the tile of the bathroom floor, her hands are already filled with your hair and she's already kneeling next you, telling you it'll be okay.

Maybe it will be.

But right now, right at this very moment, as some nameless face lowers Reid's broken body into the ground, it's not okay.

You try to fight her off when she pulls you into her arms, but she's stronger – she's always been stronger – and she tells you its okay, over and over and over again. She tells you that it's not your fault, that you couldn't have saved him from his destructive spiral, that you can't blame yourself, that you just have to try and be strong for Henry and Morgan and Garcia and Hotch.

For Henry.

For Morgan.

You've got to be strong.

But right now, she's whispering that it's okay and you break like a levee, tears cascading down your cheeks and off your chin and on the floor of the funeral home bathroom, you cry for your friend and his lost soul and because you still have her.

xiii. say i'm still the soldier in your eyes

A year later, when Reid's smile is still burned into your memory and Morgan still calls every week, you shut yourself up in a fury of tears and despair and when Henry comes knocking, you hear her tell your five year old that "Mommy is just a little sad right now."

He slips a note under the door a little later, a tiny piece of construction paper that says your name on one side. "Feel Better Mommy!" the words scream, jumping off the white paper in a splash of red. Blood red. She knocks on the door ten minutes later, jimmies the handle and slips inside quietly and quickly. You can see her heart breaking in her eyes as she takes you in, curled up in front of the bath tub, your eyes rimmed in red and your shirt cuffs heavy with tears.

"Hey you." She sits down beside you, one arm wrapping around your waist, the other hooking under your legs, and she pulls you across the linoleum floor closer to her. Henry's cartoons blare through the silent house, and Scooby-Doo is trying to solve another mystery.

"I should have taken his phone calls,' you hear yourself saying, the confession bouncing off the walls.


"No. I should have made more of an effort. Because now I'm sitting here like a coward and I don't…"

"Stop." Her voice is soft, but undeniably firm and her eyes are a little darker. "I thought you were done with this…this blaming yourself thing. No one could have helped him. He was too far gone. And don't ever call yourself a coward, not when I can hear you, because I think that you are one of the bravest, strongest, people I've ever met in my life and that's never going to change. Ever. So…" she trails off, because your eyes are wide and she hasn't been so visible shaken since New York. "So, just stop it. I'm making waffles. If you're hungry." She gets up and heads towards the door, slipping back out of it before turning back around.

"One of the bravest," she repeats, softer this time. "The bravest."

xiv. i may not have the softest touch

When Henry turns six, he declares he wants a pirate party and even though her eyes sparkle at the idea, you're wary, because you've never been a fan of pirates and because it just seems like a lot for a six year old. But she sends out the invitations anyway and when Hotch tells you that Jack is looking forward to it, you sigh resignedly, aware that this is really happening.

Of course, Henry also claims he wants balloons, and he's "more than capable of blowing them up himself," and he just seems like he's taking responsibility, so you break and say why not, it's can't be too many balloons.

Its more balloons than you've ever imagined. You're convinced they'll fill the entire apartment from the floor to the ceiling.

And he obviously can't blow them up himself. And he doesn't even try.

He gives you a look – the kind she gives you when she wants you to make breakfast in the morning – and his lower lip trembles a little and the next thing you know, you're stuck in the living room with a helium tank and close to a thousand balloons.

One goes flying across the room.

Make that close to a thousand, minus one.

She stands in the doorway as balloon after balloon either pops or flies off of the hand pump, slamming rather violently into the wall across the room, and has the nerve to laugh at you. She laughs and laughs as your "blow-up" pile gets smaller and smaller and finally, finally, she has enough pity to take the balloons away from you and to banish you to the kitchen to finish mixing the cake batter.

When you come back, she's got half the room filled with balloons and you can't do anything but shake your head and pray out loud that you get hit over the head before this party actually happens.

xv. i may not say the words as such

When you first try to tell her you love her, it comes out strangled and gargled and what it sounds like you say is "I flub glue." She stares at you like you have four heads, or horns, or something incomprehensible, and you stare back at her, before turning quickly on your heel and almost hurling yourself over the walkway railing.

On her birthday, when Henry is still just a few months, and she's still stuck in the hospital bed, you come in with a cake and try to sing "happy birthday" to her, one hand holding the cake, the other keeping Henry in place on your hip. But when you open your mouth, no words come out, because the lights are off and the candles on the cake give off a glow that seems to envelope her and you've never seen anything more beautiful in your life.

The first time – because you'll end up asking her three times in total – you ask her to marry her, it's accident, and you're kneeling in your bathroom practicing in front of the mirror and you're just getting to good part when she comes flying into the room, her mouth open, ready to say something and she stops. Because you look like you've lost your mind, kneeling on the plush shag rug, your hands cupped, like you're holding a ring box, and you don't even stand up when she just stares at you dumbstruck. "What are…" she shakes her head. "I don't really want to know. But my mother is here and she wants to talk to you. Should I tell her you're…" she searches for the words. "I don't know, taking a shower?" You can only nod and mutter something about knocking before you leave her standing in the middle of the bathroom.

When you finally get it right, and the ring is in your hand, and you're not in the bathroom, you don't really need to say anything, because she kind of squeals and gives you a breathless "yes" before you can even ask her. And it's alright, because you know the words were tangled up in your tongue anyway.

xvi. and though i may not look like much

She comes home one day – you took the day off because Henry was "sick" and the only way for him to get better was to stay home with you – and catches you and her son – the son you share – in the middle of the "nap" you were telling her about.

You're not sure which is a funnier sight: the look on her face, or the way your hands – all the way up to your elbows, really – are covered in a flour/brownie mixture, or even the way Henry is perched on the island in the middle of the kitchen, swinging the spatula around in circle, shouting the words to Nina Simone's "Feeling Good" at the top of his little lungs.

"What…what…" she sputters out and you feel the laughter bubbling up in your throat and as the song hits a particular note, you come out of your stand still and give a loud whoop, barely managing to maintain your balance as Henry jumps off the counter – her eyes widen even more at this – and lands on your back, his legs locked around your ribs and one grubby, chocolate covered hand gripping your neck almost painfully. You skate around the kitchen, your thick wool socks sliding easily across the floor and Henry shrieks in enjoyment, specks of chocolate batter painting the white cabinets.

"Mommy!" he cries and you spin and spin and spin until she's a blur and the room is titled and he's pressed forward, his face in your hair. You want to collapse to the ground, because you're exhausted, because it's been a full day of this: of running around and belting out Billie Holiday and Bing Crosby – because you raised this kid right – and you've forgotten how tiring six year olds are. She takes him down and swats him on the behind, gently pushing in the direction of the bathroom before turning on you, and you watch her shake her head.

"You are a mess." She shakes her head again, but when you lean in to kiss her, she lets you wrap your brownie arms around her waist.

xvii. i'm yours

The lights off the city slink into your bedroom, casting a glow on the cabinets and the bed and you lean against the cool window in the corner, alternately watching her sleep and watching the night life of D.C. When you're not looking; when your attention is on a young man and a young woman dancing in the empty street in front of your building, she sneaks up behind you and wraps her slender arms low around your waist, her body fitting perfectly with yours.

"Why are you up?" she mumbles into your shoulder.

"Just thinking," you tell her as her eyelashes flutter against your bare skin.

"About…" her prompt is softer than your breathing, and you twist in her arms to face her.

"About how lucky I am. About how lucky I am to be with you and to have Henry." Her mouth opens once or twice but she ends up shutting it all together and you smile softly, because even if she can speak in front of a horde of ruthless reporters, you know the things you say sometimes leave her speechless. "I'm just lucky," you tell the empty room, and she smiles into your shoulder again.

xviii. and though my edges may be rough

She invites you – over and over again – to come to dinner with her parents while they're in town, but you say no – over and over again – and tell her you're going to paint the town red with Garcia and she laughs, kissing you briefly while Henry makes gagging noises and she mutters something about making sure you come home to her, scurrying out the door before you can glare at her.

And you do paint the two red – well, Garcia paints it with her feather boa, so it turns out to be a watery pink color – and finally, you settle at some place where you can throw darts and chug beer with the guys. Morgan shows up about an hour later, and for a couple of minutes, everything is just like it used to be.

It surprises you that the lights are still on when you stumble through the front door, trying your best to shush Garcia, who's giggling about something you can't remember, but it shouldn't really surprise you, because she's always been the kind of person who waited for you.

"Well hey there pretty lady," you almost yell as she comes out of the living room, meeting you in the foyer. "Whatcha still doing up, sugar mama?"

"Sugar mama!" Garcia howls with laughter and almost hits the ground. You're drunk off your ass too.

"She is. She pays for everything. Isn't that what sugar mama's do?" You cock your head to the left as Garcia shuffles towards the guest room, mumbling something about men made of molten chocolate statues. "Or would you be a sugar daddy? Cause you wear the pants, and you're my baby da…" Your words come to a halt as she pulls you towards her.

She smells like champagne and musty library books and a game of chess. You smell like a brewery and a darts tournament and drunken old men's dirty stares.

You're so different; you realize when the moment of clarity hits you that it's been six and a half years and she still loves you even when you drink enough to sink a ship full of Navy men, and she still loves you when you spend your mornings hunched over the toilet in your room.

You're different: she's refined – she's champagne – and you're a little rough – you're imported beer – but she still smiles and hauls you down the hall to bed.

xix. and never feel i'm quite enough

You lean over the railing of the ballroom, your gaze locked on a little boy with bright hair and a brighter smile.

"But I look…" you watch his eyes screw up a little around the edges. "I look widiculous," he finally manages. You can't help but laugh, because his hair is parted a little to the side and he's tugging uncomfortably on the ends of tuxedo jacket.

It's just another Prentiss family Christmas, and again, you're standing on the fringe of the diplomatic "nonsense," as she calls it under her breath. As always.

You know that behind you, people are still staring at you – even if it's been almost seven years since you've been with her – wondering why the pretty woman dressed to the nines is standing by herself again. You don't try to engage them in conversation, because you're not sure what half of their words mean and because you feel only slightly out of place.

"Ahem," you hear from behind you and when you turn, her mother is staring at you, as if she's reading the very depths of your soul. You're a sucker for brown eyes.

"Ambassador," you nod politely.

"Elizabeth," she reminds you, stepping beside you, her smile becoming more real at the edges as she spies her grandson – her grandson – fidgeting in his outfit while her daughter tries to convince him it's for the best. "My, he certainly doesn't like that jacket, does he?" She doesn't wait for an answer before turning to face you completely. "Why aren't you mingling? Surely, Emily can handle that Henry."

Of course she can, you think to yourself. "I just left the dining hall. I was wondering where Henry had gotten to." And it's the truth – part of the truth, at least.

She looks back over the railing, down at the little boy who charmed her long ago, and sighs, a deep sigh that must be a family trait. "Jennifer." You snap to attention almost sheepishly. "You're not the type of girl I'd usually see associating with the type of people in that room." Oh god, here comes the talk, you tells yourself, trying to calm down, because she's never mentioned this in seven years. "You're actually much more engaging and entertaining than the lot of them and while they may walk a straighter line and push their noses into the air more often than not, you're a far better person than they could ever hope to be." She takes a breath and you glance down to see Henry and your wife staring up at the two of you. "Don't let anyone tell you, or suggest otherwise," the Ambassador almost whispers as she turns on her heel and heads back to her party.

You look down again, and Henry stares back up at you. She can see the way your eyes are shining, and in one smooth motion, she's unbuttoning Henry's little jacket and running her hand through his over-gelled hair, shaking it loose.

You're far different than any other person in that ballroom behind you, but you've got a wife and a son and – apparently – an approving mother-in-law.

xx. it may not seem like very much

Sometimes you're afraid she's going to get tired of this act; she's going to look around one day and know that she can give it all up and go out and live her life, and it keeps you up sometimes, because there's a whole world out there and she gave up all her opportunities – and with the amount of money she has, she could do anything – to settle down with a woman who almost gave up on her and a son that's not biologically hers.

You're not much of a catch: 32-years-old, a six-year-old, a job where you'll never get promoted – because Strauss told Hotch, when he decided to stick by his team, that they'd never go anywhere and she wasn't kidding – and a bank account that leaves something to be desired. You've got almost nothing to give her, and maybe someday she'll remember that and just go.

But then, as she smiles at from across the living room, trying to help Henry with his math homework – even though she's helplessly awful at math – you know that she wouldn't really leave you. She whispers it into your ear when you're supposed to be sleeping, and while part of you is ashamed to be that, that see through, another part of you, the part where that warms your heart, is okay with the fact that she does it, because feel warm and safe.

You're not all that much when it comes down to it, but it's enough for her, and if that's all it takes, you're more than fine.

xxi. but i'm yours

You wake up and it's still night – the moon and the city giving your room a glow you'll never get anywhere else. She's at the window again, resting her forehead against the glass, and obviously, something's caught her attention. You take advantange, climbing out of your warm sheets gingerly, trying not to shiver – because it gets cool at night – and you tiptoe across the hardwood. She doesn't move when your arms slide ghost-like around her waist; doesn't speak when you pull her back against your front.

"Why are you up?" You mutter against her bare shoulder.

"Just thinking," she tells you as she relaxes in your arms, and you're almost worried, because she seems to be "just thinking" a lot recently. But a calm washes over you, because she promised you forever and she never breaks a promise.

So you goad her. "About…" leaving the sentence open for her to respond. She twists in your arms and you're staring into the brown eyes you love so much.

"About how lucky I am." Your breath catches in your throat, but she keeps going. "About how lucky I am to be with you and to have Henry." You probably look like a fish, the way you keep opening and closing your mouth, completely unsure of what you should say.

Sometime, she leaves you completely breathless and speechless.

"I'm just lucky," she repeats again, and you smile, leaning into her shoulder.

You turn so that you're facing her neck, your breath hitting the column of her throat. "Me too," you whisper into the silent night. "So am I."

The End

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