DISCLAIMER: All herein belong to CBS and its affiliates, not me. Not profit was made, no disrespect intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: So, this is an additional scene to add on to the end of 03x10, “TrueNight”. It is premised on my response to 03x09, “Penelope”, titled Answer, the reading of which helps but isn’t necessary. Suffice it to say that Emily and JJ have entered into a romantic relationship. The conversation on the plane between JJ and Reid discussed the tragedy of losing someone you love and having nothing but a voicemail message left.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Message in a Bottle
By Fewthistle


JJ slipped the flash drive into the USB port on the side of her laptop. Almost immediately the computer prompted her to act, offering a series of options. If only life were so simple. Plug something in and from the mainframe of the universe a list of choices would be made visible, all good, all leading to a desired end; no pain, no heartache, no disillusionment, only immediate gratification. If only.

She scrolled down the list and selected "play media", as the yellow sticky note that had been wrapped around the drive had instructed her to do. She knew it was from Emily. She had found it resting against her computer this morning. It wasn't hard to recognize the bold scrawl of letters, half print, half cursive; "Plug me in and play me. Mp3 file. P.S. Use headphones."

The media player flashed onto her screen, the visualization spinning in a kaleidoscopic cobweb of color as the sound began. She pushed the volume up a notch, the tiny button headphones tight against the curling inner seashell of her ears. She was startled when no music erupted; instead the rich, gentle notes of Emily's voice swirled against her eardrums, an almost hypnotic cadence that she never ceased to love.

"I know that you will probably think that I'm crazy, and maybe I am. But I heard you talking to Reid on the plane, and what you said echoed what I had been thinking as well, about how horrible it would be to lose someone and have only a recording of their voice to hold on to.

"I know that what we have is new and fragile and maybe I'm assuming a lot of things. Still, it occurred to me that if something ever did happen to me, I would want you to have something a little less impersonal than an instruction on my voicemail to listen to. So, here goes," Emily's voice sounded so uncertain, so hesitant at how her message would be received that JJ's heart squeezed tight against her ribcage.

"Happiness has always been an abstract concept to me. Like relativity and black holes and what the hell happened to my other sock. I knew in theory that other people were happy. Every once in a while I could see it, but it wasn't something that I ever experienced first hand. I don't think that my parents were ever really happy. If they were, it was long before I met them. So, the idea that I could be more than just content with my life never factored into my choices. Until now.

"In the past few weeks, I've been happy. I mean, I'm assuming that's what this giddy, completely terrifying feeling of completeness is. I don't have any other word for it, and nothing to compare it to, but I'm fairly certain that it's happiness.

"And I am absolutely positive that you are the cause of it."

JJ blinked away the moisture that gathered against the startling blue of her retinas. She pressed the knuckles of her right hand to her lips, shaking her head slightly at the words tumbling into her ears.

"You make me happy, Jennifer. I'm not naïve. I know that there are so many things that can happen. I know that there is every possibility that we won't be smart enough, or strong enough, or lucky enough to escape all of the pitfalls ahead of us.

"I know that it may become too hard to do what we do and not have it affect us. I know that someday it may just come down to choosing between us and careers that we have worked so hard to attain. I also know that people fall out of love as often and as easily as they fell into it. And that scares me.

"But what scares me more is the thought of not having you in my life. I lay awake at night sometimes and I watch you sleeping, and this fear comes and settles on my chest like an elephant. I'm not very good at this. I'm not good with emotion. I'm not good with relationships.

"I told you months ago that I compartmentalize everything. The thing is, you don't fit into a compartment. You flood my mind and all I can think of is you and that frightens me so much. But it's a fear I can live with, because the alternative is unthinkable."

There was a long moment of silence and JJ began to wonder if the recording was over, when she heard a sound she had quickly come to recognize. Emily sighing.

"What I am trying to say is what I should have just said to begin with. What I say to you every night when you're asleep. I love you, Jennifer. I love you."

The tiny click of the microphone turning off signaled the end, as JJ watched the slider on the player slip in a solid blue line to the end marker. JJ slowly removed the headphone buds from her ears. The swirling lights of the player had slowed to a stop as well, leaving JJ staring at her reflection, mirrored back in the now black screen. Odd, how her expression seemed more akin to grief than joy, her eyes wide and startled.

Emily had that effect on her sometimes, leaving her disconcerted and disoriented, nearly overwhelmed by the other woman's courage. When she displayed it in the field, entering a house with gun drawn, heedless of the danger, JJ wanted to shake her, to yell at her for her recklessness.

It was, however, in moments like this, when Emily showed such immeasurable trust in her, that JJ found that she was most distressed. The thought of a bullet ripping through Emily's silken flesh was nothing compared to the idea that she might manage to screw this up and see the pain that she had caused pierce the deep brown of Emily's eyes. That was the image that troubled her sleep.

A quiet knock on her office door brought JJ back to the present.

"Come in," she managed, her voice a little full.

The door swung open and Emily peeked around the edge, her expression as hesitant and unsure as her voice had been. Her sharp eyes quickly took in the small white rectangle protruding from JJ's computer, sliding up to the face of the blonde, clearly trying to assess her reaction to the recording.

"Hey," Emily said in greeting, her dark head tilted to the side in silent question.

"For someone who claims that she's not very good at emotions, you do pretty well," JJ said softly, her blue eyes darker and more clouded than usual.

Emily advanced into the room, her own eyes nearly black in their depths, her lips parted, straight white teeth showing against the red of her lipstick. She seemed on the verge of speaking, only to pause, her eyes dropping to the floor for a moment before meeting JJ's.

"So, you don't mind? I mean, it wasn't too much?" Emily's whole demeanor reminded JJ of a small child who had grown used to having affection rebuffed and met with disapproval. The knowledge that this amazing woman had spent so many years of her life in the cold civility of her parents' world sent a sliver of pain all the way down JJ's arms to her hands, her fingers curling tightly in response.

Slowly, JJ got up and walked toward Emily, crossing the few feet that separated them to stand as close to her as she dared. They both knew that the security cameras were whirring away, taping every room, every movement within the Bureau, so JJ couldn't do what she desperately wanted to do; enfold Emily in her arms and never let her go.

She suddenly knew why Emily had left the flash drive for her at work. She knew that JJ would be constrained by the cameras and that provided her with a semblance of safety if her words were rejected. The knowledge made JJ want to hold her all the more.

"No, it wasn't too much. It was perfect. No one has ever done anything so amazingly romantic for me. Ever," JJ assured her gently, her eyes soft and full of emotion, her smile tremulous.

Emily's smile took JJ's breath away, but then, it always did. Still, there was something in it today that JJ had never witnessed. Abandon. There was no caution, no hesitation, no holding back. It was open and confident and liberated from every compartment.

It was the loveliest smile JJ had ever seen. She leaned back against the edge of her desk and smiled back. When she spoke, she really didn't care if the operators of the security cameras could read her lips.

"I love you, too, Emily Prentiss. I love you, too."

The End

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