DISCLAIMER: Criminal Minds and its characters are the property of CBS. No infringement intended.
SPOILERS: 2x15 Revelations, 2x18 Jones, 3x01 Doubt, 3x02 In Birth and Death, 3x04 Children of the Dark, 3x09 Penelope, 3x10 True Night, 3x17 In Heat, 3x18 The Crossing, 3x20 Lo-Fi
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Intensity In Ten Cities
PART 1: GEORGIA
You creep into the barn, trained eyes searching the immediate area. It doesn't take a long time to deduce that there's no Tobias Henkel in here, but something's off.
You've always trusted your instincts, and right now, they're telling you something is very wrong.
Maybe you see the splashes of red and the pooling of liquid first. Maybe you hear the low growl and the light snapping of filed teeth and then you see the body. Whatever it is, it makes your blood freeze and you can't move for a second.
Then you see the dogs and you know exactly what that mess of blood red is what it used to be (who it used to be).
You pull the trigger out of instinct as gleaming teeth catch the small light coming off of the moon, firing three times and once again for good measure. You feel your feet go out from under you and you hit the dusty floor of the barn, landing on some piece of plywood that stained unnaturally maroon. The sound of your gun firing is ringing in your ears and blood is rushing to your head. You can hear the dogs those killer beasts moaning and gasping for air and you feel awful, because you just took away their life.
You can hear footsteps in the distance and you're already so disorientated that you're not sure who they belong to.
So you run. Your legs are heavy and you almost slip in blood pouring out a wound on one of those poor dogs not poor dogs, killer dogs, you remind yourself but you balance yourself and crouch down in an abandoned stall, gun ready and safety off.
The door to the barn is kicked open and flashlights sweep around erratically. Some part of you knows that this is your team, but you're still to confused, still reeling from firing your gun at an actual being, and so you yell as loud as you can, hoping to sound like you still have some of your sanity left.
Someone's yelling "don't shoot!" but your vision is swimming and all you see is guns pointed at you, flashlights swinging across the plywood floor. Part of you is aware that Morgan is in your face, telling you to relax, telling you you're safe.
You don't feel safe.
But then you hear it the cool, calm unwavering voice that cuts through all the static. You see her slender hand reaching out slightly, and even though you just shrunk back from Morgan's grasp, even though she's brand new to the team and you think you don't trust her, you let her. You let yourself turn to face her and gaze into her endless chocolate eyes.
She only said what Morgan said: "JJ, look at me!" But when she says "JJ, look at me!" you can't ignore the pleading in her voice or the stability that seeps into her words. You want to collapse into her arms, and when you're finally able to tell her where Reid went, she steps forward and you fall, letting the darkness take over, if only for a second.
You're safe now.
PART 2: NEW ORLEANS
It's hot out and clammy and your shirt sticks molds to your skin and every time you breathe, the shirt stretches a little more and you half expect the fabric to creak like an old set of stairs. You think of leaning a little to your left, and whispering it into her ear, but you have to be Agent Jareau now, because that Detective with the slightly intriguing accent is headed in your direction, head tipped down to block out the sun and a wide smile on his face.
You think nothing of the way he holds your hand a little longer than necessary, because he's cute and flirting is harmless.
But when he's in the bar with you, and he's sipping a beer he looks at you leers at you and now you know he's doing more than harmless flirting.
"Why aren't you married?" He catches you off guard and for some reason you think that if Emily were here, she'd clock him across the jaw and tell him to shove his personal question somewhere the sun doesn't shine. But you're a press liaison and you're trained to be caught off guard when someone asks a completely irrelevant question.
"Uh, that involves this case how exactly?" He smiles that cocky smile of his.
"It doesn't. I'm just flirting." He's honest, you'll give him that much.
You don't give him an answer and instead you stare at him, throughout the day, wondering what's going on in his mind. You don't need to be a profiler to know what he wants from you, but if you're going to consider giving it to him, you want to know how dedicated he'd be. But then you realize, as Emily sidles up next to you, that you're being ridiculous.
"He wants you," she says bluntly and you realize why you liked the fact that Will was bluntly honest with you. Emily has always been "to the point" with you, every time, and you respect that in a person. Maybe you just respect it in Emily is your next thought, but Will is smiling at you again, and you reprimand yourself.
You're got to stop thinking about Emily.
He sidles up next you and says, in a way so smooth that any other girl would have melted over: "How will I ever survive a woman like you going so far away?"
You glance up at Emily and for a second you feel your heart stop. She's staring at him, her gaze the most feral you've ever seen on anyone in the longest time, but the minute she catches your eye, her glare drops and she's staring at you blankly. You think you see disappointment in her eyes but she blinks and turns away.
For some reason it feels like she's daring you to do something kiss him, kick him, give him your number, tell him to shove off.
"Well, despite what you may have heard, cell phones can be very good for your health," you say with a coy smile, holding your business card in one outstretched hand. He smirks and you head to the plane, throwing one last look over your shoulder.
She's sitting in a single seat on the plane and you think you know that giving William LaMontange Jr. your number wasn't what she wanted you to do.
Guess you don't have the skills of a profiler after all.
PART 3: ARIZONA
It's when she answers her phone for the third time, opting to take the call outside or just out of earshot that you start to get suspicious.
It's not Garcia, because she would have put the call on speakerphone.
It might be her mother, because every time she comes back from a call, her eyes are just a little dimmer and one time, she snaps at Reid so harshly that the Boy Genius stops himself barely from physically flinching.
But Elizabeth Prentiss is halfway around the world not that it matters. Ambassador Prentiss wouldn't call her daughter at an unscheduled interval and most certainly not during the day, when Emily could potentially be on a case.
So it wasn't Garcia and it wasn't Ambassador Prentiss and you don't know who it could be, because out of team, Emily isn't the kind to get personal phone calls. Emily has a wall, everyone knows this, and she doesn't let a lot of people past certainly not anyone outside of the team.
When her phone rings for the fourth time, and you watch her eyes cloud as she reads the caller ID, you decide that enough is enough.
"I'll be right back," she says to empty space; because no one is paying attention to her disappearing act anymore no one but you anyway. She pushes the glass door open and strides out into the sunlight and you weigh your options, which is something you only do when she's concerned, you've learned.
Option 1: barge out the door, demanding to know who's on the phone.
Option 2: ask politely.
Option 3: spy on her and put your training to the test.
Option three is clearly the stupidest of the choices, yet a moment later, you find yourself sneaking stealthily out the door, shutting it quietly behind you. She's standing in between the parked SUV's so you duck behind one and try to hear what she's saying.
"I understand but "
"No, I know that, but I can't "
"When we have "
"I understand." She says resignedly, and you marvel at the fact that someone actually managed to have a conversation with her and not let her say anything. But the next sentence makes you wish you'd never followed her in the first place.
"Ma'am, Strauss, when I have more information, I'll let you know. Right now, we don't have much."
Strauss? She's talking to Strauss? Your heart stops for a minute because you remember hearing about another unit in the BAU where a "Strauss-spy" was sent in and the entire unit was demolished. You can't help but flashback to when you first saw her, and the way that Hotch was confused as to why she was there.
You creep back into the precinct and take your place at the two-way mirror, watching Tubbs in the interrogation room. She comes back inside and you can feel her eyes on you.
You don't look at her for the rest of the trip.
PART 4: MILWAUKEE
Morgan looks at you, as if you should know why Emily resigned, but for the life of you, you can't figure it out. Ask Strauss, you want to tell him, but you'll lose your badge, so you smile a discontented smile.
"Her phone keeps going to voicemail," you tell him and he scoffs, because the room does really keep getting smaller. "She was gone before I heard the news" you offer, but that's a lie.
She was getting on the elevator as you came out of your office, and she stared at you, her eyes bright with unshed tears. You were both going down, and you knew that this was it she would be gone after this last elevator ride. You've always overacted; always been melodramatic.
Maybe that's why you dropped your files to the ground. Maybe that's why you pushed her against the wall of the elevator and pulled yourself flush against her. Maybe that's why when you came a hairsbreadth away from her, you hesitated before you pressed your lips against her full ones, already coated with salty tears. Maybe that's why you fanned your hands across her stomach, fingers greedily slipping under her shirt to touch warm skin. Maybe that's why you pressed hard into her and gasped when she did the same to you. Maybe that's why you're shirt hit the floor without a sound and your lips opened in a silent gasp. Maybe that's why you swallowed your name with a kiss. Maybe that's why you felt yourself come apart in her hands and you didn't care.
Or maybe it was because you've been waiting a year a year to kiss her, to hold her, to make her say your name that way, that when it came down to you, you took the coward's way out and finally did it because she was leaving.
Unconsciously, you lick your bottom lip and try to keep from shaking. You can still taste salt and vanilla, which is an ironically perfect blend of Emily sugar and spice.
She strides into the conference room, smiles and eyes shining. They're not shining with tears, but they're shining and you find yourself thrown back into yesterday's events: the way her jacket hung off her body at such a precarious angle; the way her name echoed through the room in a sharp whisper.
"How soon can you get up to speed" you hear her ask.
So you slip back into Agent Jareau mode. "How fast can you sit down?"
And there's the smile you didn't realize you missed.
Later that night, when you're sitting outside her apartment you wonder what you're doing here and you tell yourself you're just concerned trying to convince yourself you're just checking on her. It doesn't stop you from getting in and out of your car a few times, but finally you're in front of her door.
She opens it with a sigh. "It's déjà vu." At your blank look she smiles sheepishly. "Hotch was standing here about twelve hours ago." For some reason, you get jealous. You wanted to be the person to convince her to come back, to her family, to her team.
You're not sure how you end up standing so close to her, but when she looks up at you with pleading eyes and says "JJ" in that heartbreaking whisper of hers, something breaks inside of you.
You run for the door, because you know if you don't, you'll run right into her arms.
PART 5: DENVER
Over Carrie's head, you can see the concern shining brightly in her eyes and it amazes you. Emily Prentiss is genuinely concerned for the shaking girl in your arms, so it surprises you when it seems like she's forcing the teen to talk to the man who helped kill her family.
"She's a kid. I what is she trying to prove." You're fuming under the surface, but you're good at hiding your emotion, burying it in the words you use.
"That she can be a good daughter," Emily says in such a heartbreaking way that you're not sure if she's talking about Carrie or about herself. You watch them disappear into the interrogation room, and a part of you wants to pull Carrie out of there.
"Emily knows what she's doing," Hotch says out of the corner of his mouth.
"I know you don't agree, but she's capable of keeping it under control." You nod your head slowly, trying to show him that you trust her completely because you do but you still think it's a bad idea.
It's an accident that you stumble onto the conversation when you're taking boxes of files out to the SUV's. You hear her voice floating down the hall and the way her words carry such hope stops you; makes you listen, even though you're eavesdropping.
"I could take her."
You can almost hear the skepticism in Hotch's voice. "Take her," he repeats.
"Carrie," Emily clarifies. "To D.C."
"You mean to live with you?"
"Yeah," she says solidly. You can tell, the conviction in her voice, that she's thought about this and given it serious thought.
"Why would you want to do that," Hotch asks, and once again, you find yourself wanting to be in Hotch's shoes.
"Well, I have room," and you find yourself nodding. Her apartment is huge and more space necessary for one person. "Money, and you know, she's smart. 2, 3 years she goes to college." It almost pains you to hear her because she wants this. She really wants Carrie to go home with her and live with her and while you think it's partially because she feels a connection with the girl and there is definitely a connection you think it's mostly because she's lonely.
"Prentiss," Hotch is saying. "This is the job. And I need to know that you can be objective."
Low blow Hotch, you think, physically flinching at the harsh, direct tone of your leader's voice.
"And I need to know I can be human," she shoots back just as fiercely.
And here you go, breaking her heart again. "JJ heard from the family and they're on their way from L.A."
Ooh." You can hear her hope, her confidence, shrinking. It's your fault for being so relentless, for trying so hard, that she can't bring this teenage girl home with her. Carrie would have been good for her, you think. "That's, that's great."
She's an awful liar sometimes.
You haven't talked much since "The Resignation Debacle" as you're calling it, so it must surprise her when you sit down across from her on the plane. To her credit, she just gives you a soft smile, as if she's preparing herself to be yelled at.
"You okay?" you find yourself asking instead.
"Yeah." She's lying again.
"They're good people," you say hesitantly, because you know it's a fresh wound. She gives you this look, and all you think about is how intriguing she looks when she's caught between a frown and a look of confusion. "Carrie's family," you add after a moment.
"Good. I'm glad." And she smiles genuinely. She really just wanted what's best for Carrie, you know that. But you also know that part of her will always insist that what's best for Carrie was to be in D.C.
And even though you shouldn't say anymore, because it's crossing a line, you've already crossed too many lines with her, and one more won't hurt anyone. "I think it's a good idea though. "
"You. Kids," you clarify. "I can see it."
And you can: little Prentiss' running around, crying out for their mom. You can see Emily swooping in with Band-Aids to clean cuts and talking to a teenage version of Emily about how boys are idiots and worthless. You can see her standing proudly in the audience as her child crosses the stage and accepts an outstretched diploma.
You're pulled out of your daydream by her hopeful voice. "Yeah?"
She smiles and looks down, out the plane window into the abyss of nothingness. You go back to your daydream and without realizing it, you write yourself into it and when you catch your reflection in the pane of the window, you're smiling.
PART 6: D.C.
How is that one phrase can stop your heart so fast? That's the only thing running through your mind right now and even though you've been thinking about it for the last two hours, you still don't have an answer.
You still don't have a lot of answers.
Who would want to shoot Garcia? That's the other question you want an answer for. Who would shoot the sweet, fiercely loyal, optimistic technical analyst? Who would shoot Garcia?
Reid shows up first and he says soft words to Hotch, glancing in your direction a few times. You're aware that you're visibly falling to pieces and some part of you wants to shove it in their faces, tell them that it's not necessary to be a profiler to know that she's one step away from a complete breakdown.
But you hold it together, because Garcia wouldn't want you crying over her, so you tell yourself that, over and over again. Garcia wants me to be strong, Garcia wants me to be strong, Garcia wants me to be strong, Garcia "
You've lost track of how many times you've said it but it stops running through your mind the minute Rossi comes flying into the waiting area, Emily hot on his heels. The older man beelines for Hotch, not glancing at you. But Emily drops to her knees in front of you and one of her warm hands is cupping your cheek. That's when you break, because you know that Garcia would be okay with that now. Because now, your rock your strength is here and its okay.
Her arms wrap around you and she lifts you to your feet and moves you down the hallway, away from Reid's awkward gaze and Hotch's fatherly presence and Rossi's endless questions. You sag against an wall in the first empty hallway you come to, and you bring her down with you, the two of you crashing unceremoniously to the cool, tiled floor.
Some part of you knows it's not right for it to feel this good in her arms, because your best friend could be dying right now. The other part of you, the irrational, compulsive part of you, decides that you don't care that this isn't the right time, or the right place or the right anything. The irrational part of you ignores the way you can barely breathe through the tears that have started cascading down your face.
Kissing Emily seems like a good idea, and Gideon always told you to trust your instincts.
She tastes just like you remember, except the salty taste of her tears is missing and it's only the sickly sweet taste that remains and coats your lips and your tongue and coats the roof of your mouth. Your hands are following the same path they did last time, as if it's a familiar trek that you make on a regular basis.
Your tongue traces the line of her jaw and you're not sure who moans first. It might have been you, because her hands were wandering to places that no one has touched since she did almost five months ago. But maybe it was her, because you're kissing the underside of her jaw, and whispering her name like a stolen prayer.
The moan though, seems to flip a switch in her, and she pushes you away, trying to regain control of the situation. Her breathing is erratic and somehow this makes you want her even more than you did before. You surge forward and she pushes against you, kneeling up and holding you close.
"JJ " she whispers and it's like you're back in her apartment. You're not running this time.
But she is.
"You're upset, we we shouldn't I'm going to " but she doesn't finish a single one of her sentences and instead rises to her feet, brushing invisible dust off her slacks. You're not aware you're still reaching out for her until she turns to face you with such a look of despair sunken into her features.
"I'm sorry, but we can't," she whispers slowly, deliberately.
You lean back against the institutional white walls and try to steady your breath and to calm yourself down. The tears speed in torrents down your face and you're aware how ridiculous you look but all you want right now is for Emily to come back and kiss you and tell you that "yes, we can do this."
Because you want to. You ignored it for so long that it's finally just shoved its way out and now here it is and there she goes.
Your phone rings and you know who it is, because he hasn't stopped calling you back since after Milwaukee, since after you ran from Emily and ran to him.
You answer, because she said "no," and because he'll say "yes."
PART 7: LOS ANGELES
You almost miss the flight to L.A. because you're getting off a plane coming from New Orleans when you get the page.
You fly into the office, you're ready bag still packed with last week's clothes, and smile sheepishly at Hotch as he hands you the file you're supposed to be briefing the team on. Morgan grins at you from across the table, but you can't look at him because you're as easy to read as an open book.
"Now that everyone's here " Hotch says pointedly, but he's wrong, you note. Emily's not here you scream in your head. But you hear the clacking of heels on the tiled floor and she's turning the corner too fast, almost falling into the conference room.
Hotch doesn't correct himself, and you file onto the plane feeling like a scolded child.
She stays away from you she has since that night in the hospital and opts to sit with Rossi, talking to him about god knows what. You catch snippets of her conversation, but it's not the words you're focused on, it's the way her voice rises and falls.
Johnny McHale is an unsub you actually feel for, because what happened to him wasn't his fault, and now he spends his days listening to that voicemail over and over again, somehow convinced that she's coming back.
Neither will Emily. You've pushed her away, the way you kissed her in the hospital. You pushed her away when you didn't follow after and explain what it was you were doing. You pushed her away by falling into Will's arms.
On the plane home, you hear her head snap up the minute you say what you've been thinking the entire trip: "I couldn't imagine having nothing left of someone but a voice message. Think I'd never stop listening to it." You wonder what it would be like for you if all you had of her was a voicemail, her professional, detached voice on some tiny little microchip in a stupid cell phone.
The idea of only having that to hold onto is overwhelming, and you have to get up, move, do something, because you can feel the cabin getting smaller with each breath you take. So you rise suddenly and stalk down the length of the plane, letting yourself into the bathroom, not bothering to shut the door. You drop unceremoniously onto the closed toilet seat and lower your head into your hands.
You only know she followed you because you can see her shoes.
She's always coming to your rescue, and this would get old you think, if it was anyone besides her. She kneels down next to you, but doesn't speak and her arms hang limply at her sides, her knuckles grazing the floor. You're not sure how long you sit there in silence, but just as you open your mouth, she beats you to it.
"We have to talk." But you don't want too. You're afraid of what she's going to say, because she'll tell you things you don't want to hear.
"I can't do this," you whisper softly, and she has to lean forward to hear you. You turn at her movement and you're face to face, breath mingling and hearts beating in time. "I "
"JJ " The plane lurches downward and you fall into her, just like at the hospital except that the air is different here. You're not falling apart because you've shown her that side of you too many times to count and you're done being the weak one.
Something inside you snaps and she see it's too late and you're too far gone to care. You want to leave her something other than a voicemail; you want something more of her than that. And without thinking twice, without thinking about where you are, without thinking about who's on the other side of that door, without thinking about your boyfriend in New Orleans, without thinking about how you'll be able to look at her the same way, without thinking about how she feels, you finally break.
It's not until later, when you're lying in your bed and staring up at the ceiling and the digital clock on the switches from 2:59 to 3:00, does it occur to you that you fucked Emily in a plane bathroom, with your clothes still on and fast, hard hands.
You fucked Emily and she moaned your name so loud you know that everyone on the plane heard her. You fucked her and she took it and you'll never forget the way she looked when you finished, and you know that if anything should happen to her, you'll always have that moment; that moment when her eyes finally cleared and she just stared at you.
You'll always have the feel of her coming apart in your hands.
You don't care that she didn't come home with you and you don't care that she wouldn't look at you for the rest of the eight-hour flight.
At least, you tell yourself you don't care.
You're such an awful liar sometimes.
PART 8: MIAMI
The universe has a not-really-funny sense of humor.
He comes out of the precinct, gun on one hip and a hand shielding his eyes from the hot bayou sun and Emily sees him first. You can see her eyes grow dark in annoyance, because she didn't like him the first time she met him and she's not one to change her mind about those kinds of things.
"Hey, isn't that " she says, for obligations sake.
You feel your heart stop in your chest and you wonder if she can see the familiar smile he gives you, the one tells exactly what you do on your weekends off. You haven't seen him since before L.A., but he still traces over every curve of your body with his eyes and it makes you want Emily to hit him so hard his head spins.
You find it ironic that when he shakes your hand, and holds it just a little bit longer than necessary, that it's the same hand you used to fuck Emily against an airplane bathroom wall.
But you're drawn out of this thought, because he's walking away and she's staring at him, and then staring at you, as if she knows. But she can't, because you've never said anything about it, and you honestly didn't ever plan on saying anything about it, because it was never supposed to last this long.
The only reason it last this long is because you're too much of a coward to be with her. Sure, you can fuck her in an elevator and in an airplane bathroom and you can make out with her in deserted hospital hallways, but you'll never really have her because you're too much of a goddamn coward to afraid of what the consequences will be, too afraid of making real, because then she can hurt you, really hurt you, and that's not something you can handle.
So you settled for him and you hate yourself for it.
What you hate more is that she's standing next to you, saying nothing you want to hear, and you're listening to her.
"You should go for him." Her eyes are blank and hard and when she tilts her head to the right, she looks angry. When she tilts her head to the left, she looks heartbroken.
"You know what?" But it's a rhetorical question, because if she wants to play this game, then fine. You can be the JJ everyone expects you to be, because she doesn't want you.
You grab the edge of the pillar in the room and propel yourself forward in his direction, calling his name out. In your head, you're saying her name and in your head, she's following you around the corner, her hands grasping the edge of your shirt and pulling you away from him, pulling you into her.
But that's all in your head, and in real life, he's looking at you expectantly, waiting for you to say something, anything. His gaze is so hopeful that you're not even sure what it is you're saying to him, but it must not matter to him anyways, because he cuts you off and pulls you in for the inevitable kiss.
This is your perfect fairytale romance, but when he kisses you, you're looking at her out of the corner of your eye, and she looks like someone - you just stabbed her in the heart multiple times and then trampled over her dreams and stomped on her future. Your eyes slide closed involuntary and when you open them again, she's gone and Morgan is staring at you with a shit-eating grin on his handsome face.
On the plane, after you say goodbye to Will, she stares at you from across the aisle and the entire trip, her eyes burn your skin. As you get off, and head to your car, you hear her call your name. Hesitantly, you turn back to face the one person you've managed to break into a million pieces.
"I hope you're happy with yourself." She doesn't need to call you a cold-hearted bitch, or any other name, because it's implied on the end of her sentence.
You're not happy with yourself, but you can't tell her that, because it's your fault and there's no one else you can blame.
She could have been your happy ending too.
PART 9: MARYLAND
Looking at Keri and telling her that she's going to be fine, that you'll catch this son of a bitch who's tormenting her every waking and ever sleeping moment, you wonder if you're lying to her. You, personally, are never going to catch this guy.
Emily could catch him singlehandedly, you know that much.
But you shouldn't even be out here, in the field, gun drawn, arms and hands steady. You should be in your office, kept away from Kevlar vests and loaded guns and potential threats.
You have a life growing inside of you and that scares you more than any unsub. You stop yourself before you think about what Emily would say if she knew. You try to think about what Will is going to say, because, you remind yourself, it's his kid.
It's good timing as Morgan tackles the unsub, because you sag under the realization that you're having Will's baby and Emily is going to be even farther out of your reach then before. Instead of dwelling on it, you do your job and tell Keri that she did a great job and that she's going to be okay as if she didn't know that.
And of course, Emily is two steps behind you, speaking more eloquently than you, because she can keep it together and not let herself become distracted from the job by something as simple as losing any chance with the person you've waited your entire life for because you're pregnant with the heir of some Cajun Detective who smells like alcohol and crawfish. It's not that big of a deal.
But it is, and you can't sleep because of it, because you thought it would be easy to drop Will and pick up Emily just like that. But there was a monkey wrench in the plan, because you're life never goes the way you want it to.
You're not sure how you got out of bed, into the car and to D.C., but here you are, on her doorstep, wringing your hands nervously and staring at your shoes.
You knock a couple of times before she opens the door, and you almost wish she hadn't.
"JJ, what hi," she says cordially, because Emily is anything but rude, and it almost stings, the way she's so warm and the way her smile is so reassuring. She shouldn't be this nice to you, and you think it's just a trick of the light, but then you see her eyes the real window into her and they're black with confusion and anger and disappointment and detachment.
"I'm pregnant." You should have something anything else than that, but it's at the tip of your tongue and you've been waiting too long to tell someone.
Silence. You should have said something else.
And now you're granted with an opportunity most people will never get: Emily Prentiss breaking down, piece by piece. Her smile slides off her face, almost comically, and her shoulders once in their pristine posture drop considerably. Her eyes dim and the shadows under them stretch and grow, and her stance grows defensive, but small. She's folding into herself, trying to protect herself from your words, your actions and from you.
"Why are you telling me that?" her voice cracks in the middle of her sentence and she takes a step back, shrinking into her apartment.
"I'm not sure. I " You really don't have any idea why, out of everyone you could have told Garcia, Morgan, Hotch, Will, who you still haven't called you're telling her. It's cruel, and you know it, can feel it, because she keeps inching further from you and you just need her to hold you and tell you it's going to be alright.
And just as you open your mouth to apologize, just as you start to tell her that you're so sorry for killing her like this, she steps forward lunges really and grabs your shoulder, her fingers digging into your shoulders, your breath hot on your cheeks.
"JJ just shut up." It's not lost on you that Will said the exact thing to you into Miami, and that he pulled you into a kiss just the same way she is now. Only he was gentle and took his time, as if he somehow thought knew that he would get to kiss you like this forever, and she's kissing you desperately, because she knows thinks that she'll never get to kiss you like this again.
You follow her into her apartment, clothes disappearing as fast as the wheels in your head are moving. You pull out the kiss and look at her. She's crying and when you raise your hands to wipe away her tears, she jerks backwards, as if your hands are fire and she's afraid of getting burned.
"I " but she cuts you off with her eyes. They're cold and dark and emotionless and it chills you, makes you squirm inside, because you've only seen this particular look once in your entire life back when they wheeled James Colby Baylor's dead body out of the BAU wrapped in a body bag.
"Don't say anything. I don't " she steadies her breathing and looks you in the eyes, dipping her head a little to see you directly. "Just promise me you won't say his name," she whispers as she kisses you, silencing your answer.
You want to tell her: you've never said his name. it's always been hers.
PART 10: NEW YORK
It almost seems funny to you that you can pinpoint moments in your relationship by the city you were in when it happened.
You can look back on every case file and relate something about the two of you to each and every dead body, each and every unsub, each and every plane ride.
You trust her in Georgia.
You challenge her and lose her for a moment in New Orleans.
You feel betrayed by her in Arizona.
You feel her slipping away from you in Milwaukee.
You dream about her in Denver.
You watch her get a little further from your grasp in D.C.
You struggle to hold onto her and for a moment you have her in Los Angeles.
You give up on her, betray her, in Miami.
You give her "one night" in Maryland.
You might lose her forever in New York.
Every single case since she's joined the team, you can recall every time her hand brushed yours. You can remember every smile, every look of desire, and heartbreak and despair. You can remember every whisper, every spoken word, everything she's every shouted. You can remember the way she held you together and the way she let you fall apart.
And now, you might lose her forever in New York.
Will is standing to your side, his stance too protective, too "try me and see what happens" for your liking, and it's aimed at her, but right now you don't care. She was gone when you woke up in the morning, after you told her you were pregnant, and she was already sitting at her desk when you came into work the next day, already acting as if nothing had happened between you. She was acting as if the last year of ups and downs had just ended the night before and you'll never have to talk about it.
Except that every time you close your eyes, you can see the way she looked at you, the way she couldn't stop crying. You can see the way her hands lingered over your stomach and you can hear the words she whispered against your skin, even if she doesn't know that.
It doesn't seem fair that you've wanted her for so long and when you got her, really got here, all she could do was make you promise you wouldn't say his name.
It doesn't seem fair that when you tell Hotch and Reid that you're pregnant, she acts just as surprised as everyone else. Part of you is angry, because you think that no one would have found it suspicious if you had already told her. You're two women who spend most of their day sandwiched by testosterone; it wouldn't have been completely out of the realm of possibilities.
What hurts the most is when she hugs you and you can feel the curves of her bodies under her jacket and her breath is ghosting across your face and she says "Congratulations" as if she actually means it. When you pull back to look at her, it's like a smack to the face. Emily Prentiss the one you haven't seen in the longest time, the one who has the brick wall impenetrable by any force is back and she really means it when she says "congratulations."
The other part of you though, the part that isn't angry, is the part of you that follows her out to her car as she's going to check on Cooper.
"Emily!" In the hustle and bustle of the New York night life, she could have ignored you, could have blamed it on the intense roar of humanity, but she turns to face you. You expect her to be heartbroken, like every other time you let him two steps behind and chased her.
But she's not. Instead, she stares at you, almost expectantly, as if she's waiting for you to tell her to "drive safe," or "remember to buckle up."
"What?" Her voice gives her away though, because it's shaky and heavy with impending tears. You take a deep breath and a few steady steps forward, because this is one of those "now or never" situations everyone is always talking about.
This is where you're going to be the evil, hateful person you both know you are, and ask her to Baby Jareau's godmother and to be your best friend and hold your hand through this, because you don't know what you're doing not really.
"I love you." You should have said anything but that. You're even more of a cold-hearted bitch than you thought you were.
But she stares at you and it makes you think she's waiting for the punch line of the joke you just pulled on her. When she gets it when she realizes you're not kidding she nods and turns back to the vehicle, then whips around again, and you're ready for the yelling to start.
"I love you too," she says with a sigh.
She should have said anything but that.
Because that sentence, the one admission, gives you hope and dreams and when you lie down next to Will tonight, and when he drapes an arm across your waist, it'll be her face in your mind and her voice in your ear and her hands on your body. That once sentence gives you a reason to start smiling again, and she shouldn't have said it, because it's not fair to you.
But then again, when have you ever been fair to her?
And while all of this creeps through your mind, moving at a snail's pace, she's getting into the waiting SUV, starting the engine and not making eye contact with you. She pulls off of the curb and drives away and you find it humiliating to know you're just a figure getting smaller in her rearview mirror.
You trusted your life into her hands in Georgia.
You left her out to dry in New Orleans.
You couldn't believe that she'd be that kind of person in Arizona.
You tried to hold onto any piece of her that you could in Milwaukee.
You wrote your future together, and the children you would have and the happiness that seemed to never go away in Denver.
You pushed yourself against her and watched her walk away in D.C.
You tried to keep something to remember her by in Los Angeles.
You turned your back on her and cut her down to nothingness in Miami.
You ripped her heart out of her chest, held her beating heart in your hands, and kept yourself from screaming her name in to the silent night in Maryland.
As you turn to walk back into the precinct, back to the life you stopped dreaming of having since she started coming around, back to the hell you've resigned yourself to, you can feel the ground shake and the tremors move through your body, settling in your stomach, trying to tell you something.
It feels like that night in the barn something doesn't feel right and the tremors and terror settle into the pit of your stomach, sending chills down your spine and bile up into your throat.
Something's wrong. You're running down the street, faster than you've ever run before, and it doesn't occur to you that he's following, that the entire team seems to be behind you, hard feet against the pavement, arms pumping, and heavy breathing.
Something's wrong. You turn the corner, pushing past the crowd staring in awe and you stop so suddenly you can feel your body resisting, sending you a step closer. Your hand flies to your mouth, as if it's going to stop your breakfast from rising, and the smell alone is enough to send you to your knees in shock and dismay and in pray that this isn't really happening.
It almost seems funny to you that you can pinpoint moments in your relationship by the city you were in when it happened.
You lose her in New York, and even if she's not in that SUV that's now a pile of smoldering ash and steel, and even though she's standing at the fringe of the crowd, ten feet away from where you're kneeling in agony, and even though the same look of terror is etched into her elegant features, you lose her just the same.
He's the one kneeling next to you, rubbing comforting circles on your back and whispering in your ear that it's going to be okay.
If you close your eyes, it's not him it's never him but you have to tell yourself it's just a dream.
She's ten feet away, and you lose her the instant her eyes change color, because you know that this distance between you is just going to grow and grow and grow until you won't be able to see her and she'll just be a could-have-been in the back of your mind, stuck on a shelf somewhere, never to be thought of again.
You lose her in New York, and you're going to New Orleans the next morning, to get "out of harm's way."
Eight months later, when Hotch calls you from Georgia, and asks if you've heard from her, because she just turned in another resignation letter because she didn't think the first time was fun enough and left, you can't help but thinking that everything just came full circle, and that's an invitation for starting over if you've ever heard one.
You lost her in New York, but maybe you can find her again in Georgia.
It's not until the baby the baby with clear blue eyes and surprisingly sharp black hair and the baby blanket with the words "Raleigh Emily" cries in the next room that you realize how ridiculous you're being.
You lost her in New York.
You couldn't fix it then. You can't fix it now.
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