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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
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SPOILERS: End of season three and seven.
Emily Prentiss leaned against her desk and looked around the BAU's bullpen. The team had just returned from New York, where they had, with a heavy price, managed to thwart the plans of homegrown terrorists. The large room was oddly calm, despite there being many agents working even at this late hour. It made the past few days almost seem like a bad dream. If only.
Hearing footsteps behind her, Emily turned to see a very gloomy looking JJ, the team's Media Liaison, walking purposefully across the bullpen.
"What's wrong?" Emily automatically reached out to touch the other woman's arm as she passed her. Fully aware of how often she initiated physical contact with JJ, she usually pulled away quickly, constantly struggling to tamper her instincts. They were still trying to re-define their relationship after having decided to end the romantic side of it. But now the younger woman was clearly agitated and it worried Emily, so, for once, she allowed her touch to linger.
The blonde stopped, but shook her head, refusing to meet Emily's eyes. "Nothing."
"JJ?" Emily's tone was a clear indication she didn't believe her for a second.
"Look I need to deliver these reports to Rossi, and "
Prentiss knew an evasion when she saw one. She glanced at the dark office room behind her. "Well, considering he left about five minutes ago, I'm sure it can wait. Now what is it? Is it Will? The baby?"
JJ swallowed and finally raised her eyes, focusing first on Emily before letting her gaze wander around the room. "Not here."
The profiler pushed herself away from her desk and gestured for JJ to lead the way. After a momentary hesitation, JJ turned on her heels and marched out of the bullpen.
As soon as they reached JJ's office and closed the door, Emily grasped JJ's hands in her own. "What's wrong?"
JJ took a deep breath to calm herself, even as her grip threatened to crush Emily's hand. "I don't think I can do this."
Emily felt her heart drop to her stomach as she realized what JJ meant. No.
"This whole thing with Will," JJ added. "I hate the way he outed my pregnancy. I was planning on telling Hotch once we got back and then telling you and "
"I'm sure he was just excited," the brunette offered, knowing the words would sound hollow even as she said them.
"And the whole asking me to marry him Emily, I " JJ's voice faded away as she strained to find ways to describe what she was feeling. JJ's eyes searched Emily's, as if the answers she sought could be found in them.
For her part, Emily felt torn. She craved JJ's presence in her life. Their affair, if you could call it that, had consisted of random nights spent together, usually while on case out of town. It had started the night they'd found Reid after he'd been taken by Hankel. It wasn't until Emily realized her feelings ran deeper than mere affection, that she started to back off, going as far as pushing JJ towards a relationship with Will instead. She knew her feelings for the woman standing before her would never change; she would always be in love with her. But she also knew she herself was damaged. With a past like hers, a past she couldn't even tell JJ about, she could never offer the younger woman the stability she deserved. The stability her unborn child deserved.
Emily closed her eyes, hiding from JJ's probing gaze. She tried to steel herself for what was coming next. But when she opened her eyes and JJ finally continued, Emily found she was woefully unprepared.
"How can I settle for him? How?" JJ raised a hand to caress Emily's cheek. "When what I've experienced with someone else makes me feel so much more? I couldn't keep him away from the baby, I know that. And I know, it would complicate things, but he's not the one I'm in love with."
Emily fought hard to hold her emotions in check. She swallowed and blinked away the tears that threatened to fall.
"But he loves you." Emily was quite proud of how steady her voice sounded. It hardly betrayed the turmoil she was in. "He can be there for you and your baby when others can't. In ways others can't."
Tears spilled down JJ's cheeks. "Emily "
"No, JJ," Emily smiled tremulously. "The baby will need an aunt, right?"
"Penelope has already claimed that title," JJ rebuffed, but it was clear she knew she was grasping at straws.
"JJ " Emily felt her heart breaking. She leaned closer to JJ, and kissed her slowly and thoroughly with aching tenderness.
As the kiss finally came to an end and Emily pulled away, she waited for JJ to open her eyes.
"Emily," JJ tried one last time, but the brunette silenced her by placing a finger on her soft lips.
No longer able to hold her own tears at bay, Emily allowed them to fall freely.
"Let me go."
Four years later Emily watched as JJ danced her wedding song in the arms of Will LaMontagne. She had asked JJ to move on. She had cried and asked the woman to let her go.
She had never expected she actually would.
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