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By Little Mac
"The phoenix hope, can wing her way through the desert skies, and still defying fortune's spite; revive from ashes and rise." Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
JJ looked up from the tea she was making as Emily opened the curtain and joined her at the refreshment center on the plane. They were heading to another city to find another unsub, same routine as they did most weeks but JJ was growing tired of the charade the older agent was playing with her and now was as good a time as any to corner her for answers. The rest of the team was sprawled throughout the plane, catching what sleep they could before landing. They seldom took off at night but this case was unique and the local police department had asked them to come immediately.
"How come you never ask to feel the baby kick?" JJ peered over the agent's shoulder to make sure they were unobserved as she said the first word that passed between them all day.
Emily's eyes looked panicked for a moment before the mask of professionalism slid firmly into place.
"I well I guess I don't feel the need."
She shrugged, "I've felt other babies kick before so the experience isn't new for me."
Reaching around JJ, careful not to make contact with her ever increasing belly nor any other part of the smaller woman, she pulled a mug from the cabinet and filled it with steaming black coffee from the pot. Turning to leave the cramped area she found her way blocked.
One hand holding her tea mug and the other resting on her belly, JJ effectively trapped Emily. "With the exception of Reid it isn't new for anyone on the team and yet you're the only one who hasn't wanted to share this with me." Her eyes were sad and the look of hurt in her face was almost enough for Emily to break her resolve.
"JJ " Emily attempted to move past her but the hand on her shoulder stopped her forward progress and with a sigh she moved back against the counter, crossing one slim booted foot over the other, she aimed for an air of nonchalance but knew she looked like nothing more than a trapped animal. JJ was going to have this conversation with her whether she wanted to or not.
"No Emily I want to know, I want to know why you've been so distant since we returned from Philadelphia." The hand on Emily's shoulder was removed and Emily missed the heat her touch had generated. When JJ placed the hand on her own hip and looked at Emily like a parent scolding a child, she felt anger rise up within her and fought it down.
Taking a sip of the scalding liquid in her mug, Emily bought a little time for her voice to regain the unemotional tone from earlier. "Can we do this some other time JJ, perhaps someplace a little more private?"
Grabbing her hand, JJ pulled a resisting Emily into the front of the plane and closed the door behind them. This area was seldom used by the team since it had only one couch along the wall and minimal lighting. The area was designed as sleeping quarters and the couch folded out into a bed. The only time Emily could remember it being used was when Reid had been held hostage by Tobias Henkel and needed to rest on the way home. He and JJ had sat on this very couch and held each other, they had talked about what happened and how they were coping. The only two people who understood what the other had been through. Now she pushed Emily down and sat between her and the door.
Morgan caught Reid's eye as the door closed and the men quit pretending to sleep. "Think they'll work it out?"
"I don't know Reid, I hope so. I'd hate to know someone loved me like that and I just walked away from it."
"I don't think JJ knows how much she loves her."
"She knows, Reid, she just doesn't know what to do with it." Hotch interjected.
"Sometimes it's easier to run away from what you want than to run toward it. JJ's been through a lot in the last year, she just needs to realize how much she needs Emily to help her through it."
"What can we do to help?"
Rossi added his two cents to the conversation as he jotted notes into his ever present notepad. "Nothing Reid, they have to work it through on their own. All we can do is be here to help pick up the pieces if need be. I think they'll figure it out though."
Hotch nodded, "I agree, they're both intelligent women, they just need to let their barriers down and work through their doubts."
Reid cocked his head to the side as he did anytime something didn't make sense to him. "Why do you want them together Hotch, isn't it bad for the team to have agents fraternizing?"
"Not our team; we work better when JJ and Emily are close. Haven't you noticed how fractured we've been since JJ took up with Will?"
Morgan laughed at Reid's answer; it was so typical of their youngest team member. "Interpersonal relationships aren't Reid's thing Hotch. Break it down for him."
Hotch sighed, "Reid our team is like a watch, all the pieces fit together to make the whole work. When you wind the spring too tight the gears won't move and the pieces no longer function as a whole. Emily is the spring and JJ has wound her too tight, their tension is something we all feel and as a result we don't function like a team anymore."
"But we do, it's just a little tense sometimes." Reid countered Hotch's logic.
"That's right my man, we feel the tension and while you may not feel it like the rest of us, it does make us function differently. We'd all like the old JJ to come back and the only one who can make that happen is Emily."
"I see." He didn't really but he was tired of the conversation and wanted to get some sleep before they landed. Reaching up, he turned off the light and settled back into his chair, closing his eyes.
Balancing the tea cup and saucer on her belly, JJ turned her gaze on the woman sitting stiffly across from her. "We're alone now and not likely to be disturbed for the next three hours. So why Emily, what did I do?"
"Why do you assume you did anything, and why do you think anything's changed, JJ?"
"You don't look at me anymore, you don't touch me anymore. When we have to work together you're all business, no joking around. It wasn't always like that Emily, you and I both know that. I want to know why."
"You've changed JJ; you're not accessible to me anymore."
"What does that mean?"
"It took me awhile you know, after New Orleans, to put it all together. You were with Will and it took me awhile to figure that out. At first I didn't really catch that you never spent time with me alone anymore. We used to go out on Friday or Saturday nights, hit the bars or to the theater. Then you were spending all your time with him. Garcia isn't the only hacker on the team you know. I checked the airlines and even though you used a different airline every time it was pretty easy to track your flights."
JJ was shocked by Emily's words. "You spied on me?"
"I wasn't spying; I was worried about my friend. The friend who had always been there for me in the past no questions asked, the very same friend who was suddenly distant, uncommunicative and unavailable when I needed her. What did you expect, JJ that I would just be available when you needed me? What about what I needed, what about my feelings?" Fighting valiantly against the tears that suddenly sprung to her eyes, Emily turned away from the blond in front of her and stared out into the darkness through the window behind her.
JJ saw the tears as they tracked silently down the porcelain features and reached out to gently turn Emily's face until their gazes locked once again. "Why didn't you say anything Emily?"
"What was I supposed to say JJ, you loved him. You're having his baby, how was I supposed to compete with that?" Emily was crying openly now, unable to stop the torrent of tears or the words that tumbled from her mouth, spurred on by the ache in her chest and the hurt in her heart. "Would it have made a damn bit of difference if I told you I loved you? Would you have returned that love or would you have pushed me away like you're doing now?"
JJ bowed her head from the onslaught of emotions pouring from the dark haired woman. "We'll never know because you never gave me the chance Emily."
"I was always there JJ, waiting for you. You flirted with me, I flirted back. There was never a question of whether I was interested. I just waited for you to want me like you knew I wanted you. Except you chose him and not me, so what was I supposed to do then JJ? How was I supposed to react to that? You hid him from me and everyone else for a year. You pushed me away and I had no arsenal to fight back with. I had to protect myself, what did you expect me to do?"
"You slept beside me for weeks after the Henkel case, you held me through my nightmares. You could have told me then. We talked every night, we shared everything. Why didn't you tell me then?"
"You weren't in love with me JJ; I couldn't risk losing what little of you I had. For all the good it did me, now I've lost it all."
"You haven't lost me Emily, I'm right here."
"At arms length and aloof; nothing has changed JJ. You're carrying his child and you're building a life without me. I have to learn to do the same; I have to build a life for myself without you."
"I never loved him Emily."
"What?" JJ's non sequitur took her by surprise.
"I cared for him and he was easy to turn to when I couldn't come to you, but I never loved him."
"Then why JJ, why did you throw away what we could have had for someone you didn't love?"
"Because I couldn't bring myself to love you Emily, I couldn't be that person for you."
Emily felt like a knife had been thrust into her heart and the whimper that slipped from her lips pierced the air around JJ as she realized what she'd done to the woman she loved but couldn't be with.
"Be what person? I only wanted you to be yourself JJ; I never wanted you to be something you're not."
"I'm a small town girl Emily, I'm not world traveled. I'm not comfortable living my life out loud. I still want to be accepted by my family, by society, by the people I work with. I don't want to wave flags and march in parades."
"I would never have asked you to, I don't live that way either JJ. I'm comfortable in my own skin yes, but I don't need to wave flags and be the poster child for lesbianism. I am who I am and I'm accepted by the people I love for it." Emily wiped the tears from her eyes and sat up a bit straighter as the realization hit her. "That isn't the reason JJ; you'll never convince me that you're afraid to be labeled by society."
JJ sighed and ran her hand through her long blond locks; she should have known Emily would see through her attempt at subterfuge. "I was, am, afraid."
"Afraid of what JJ, are you afraid of me or something else?"
"Afraid of losing you, of how much I loved you and how easily I could have lost you." JJ snorted contemptuously, "Better to never know what you're missing than to know and lose it all, right?"
"There are no guarantees in this line of work JJ, we all know that. Given what we see, especially what you see, on a daily basis I would think we should all reach for love where we can find it. Look at Garcia, she was shot looking for love and she found it in the aftermath. Do you think she dwells on being shot or being in love with Kevin?"
"Garcia is different; I'm not like her. I see first hand the evil that man can do to one another. I couldn't bear to lose you Emily; it was easier to turn to Will, he was always half a continent away at all times. I didn't have to see him on a daily basis, a weekend here and there and he was out of my mind until the next Friday rolled around. You're on my mind every day. I see you, Kevlar fastened around your chest, gun drawn, and rushing headlong into danger every day. I hold my breath until I see you're alright; but I'm always waiting for that one time when you aren't, that one stray bullet that will take you away from me forever. When I'm in the field you put yourself between the unsub and me every time, but what you don't know is that my life would end if you died protecting me."
"My life would end if I didn't protect you and something happened. Just because you don't want me, JJ, doesn't mean that my world doesn't revolve around you anyway. When the terrorists blew up the truck you and Will were in and I didn't know if you had survived all I could think about was how I couldn't go on with my life without seeing you every day." Emily reached out and gently caressed JJ's cheek, wiping away the tears that slid from her eyes. "When Will died and you shut me out, I knew then that I'd never have a chance with you. I've tried moving on JJ. I've tried to put the distance between us you seemed to want. Now I don't know what you want, and you can't keep playing with me."
Taking the blonde's slender hand in hers, she brought it to her lips and lightly kissed the knuckles, before holding it against her heart. JJ could feel the pounding beat of the organ as Emily's words wrapped themselves around her own heart.
"I love you Jennifer, from the first moment I saw you. When you befriended me when no one on the team wanted me there, you were always there offering me your friendship. You were so easy to love, so easy to care for. You were my own ray of sunshine that was always there when I needed her. I can't do that anymore though; I can't just love you from afar. I want to share my life with you JJ, all of it, the good and the bad and if you don't want that too then I can't continue to be your friend and pretend like nothing's wrong. I love you JJ, I want to spend the rest of my life with you."
JJ's eyes grew as big as the saucer balanced precariously on her belly as she looked into Emily's eyes. "Are you asking me to marry you?"
"Maybe eventually, but right now I want to know if we have a chance." Emily took the cup and saucer from JJ's belly and set it on the table beside her before opening her arms and allowing the blond to seek refuge within the comforting circle. She had missed holding her and it always felt so right when her arms were around JJ. Pulling her in tighter, she kissed the top of the blonde head lying on her chest. "I missed this JJ, I missed you so much."
Looking up into the black eyes gazing lovingly down on her JJ felt her world right itself once more and with the tiniest of movements she leaned up and captured Emily's lips with her own. The softness shocked her, she was used to Will's small firm lips and the gentleness she found in Emily's kiss washed away all thoughts of him. When Emily's tongue asked for entrance she parted her lips and lost herself in the sensation of kissing someone she loved with all her heart.
It seemed like a lifetime had passed while they lost themselves in their first kiss. Neither wanted to break away but the position was hard for JJ to maintain with her belly. Backing away reluctantly she stood up and pulled Emily to her feet, wrapping her arms around the taller woman's waist and laying her head on her shoulder. They couldn't get as close as they wanted but for now this would have to do and JJ relished the feeling of a full body hug from Emily.
"We have a chance, if you'll have me after everything I've put you through. I don't know how we'll work this out with the team and the baby, not to mention your mother, but we can't deny ourselves the chance to see if we can do it.
JJ pulled back slightly and looked into Emily's eyes once more "I love you too Emily and you'll never know how sorry I am that I pushed you away. None of this would've happened if I'd just told you how I felt from the beginning." JJ began to cry again at the thought of all the time they'd wasted and the thought that Will would still be alive if only she'd gone to Emily instead of him.
"Hey, sweetheart, we can't live in the past. What's done is done and now we move on and try to build something together. We're going to have a family soon, and I can't wait to see a little JJ running around."
"You want to help me raise the baby?"
"I want us to be a family JJ, you me and the baby. Did you think this would only last until the baby was born?"
"I didn't want to think about it, I just wanted to be in the moment. Thinking about the future and that you may not be there is more than I want to contemplate right now."
"That's why you asked me if I was proposing isn't it, you want to know that I'm going to be there for you and the baby?"
JJ nodded against Emily's chest, afraid to meet her eyes and voice her fears. Feeling Emily's arms release her she looked up only to see Emily kneel before her. "Emily?"
Emily grasped both of JJ's hands in hers and kissed the backs of each before capturing the blue eyes of the woman she loved with hers. "Jennifer Jareau I love you with all my heart and I want to be with you forever, to raise this child and any others we may have, through all the good and bad times and everything that may come our way. Will you marry me?"
"Oh my God, you're serious? Yes, Emily, yes I'll marry you." Emily jumped to her feet and pulled JJ back into her arms and swung her around, kissing her and smiling at the same time. "Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love you so much JJ, I can't wait to begin our life together."
"Shouldn't we go on a date first?" JJ asked the still smiling Emily as they sat back down on the small couch.
Emily lifted JJ's head into her lap as the blond tried to find a comfortable position to lie in on the couch, stroking her hair as it spilled across her legs she bent to kiss the tip of a perfect nose. "We've been on many dates, only you didn't know they were dates."
"Mmm I'm going to fall asleep if you keep that up. I always loved lying in your lap while you played with my hair."
"I always thought you were asleep when I did that."
"I know, I had to fake sleep to get you to do it."
"Well now you don't and if you want to sleep now, go ahead I'm not going anywhere."
"In a bit, the baby's kicking right now and it's hard to sleep when it does that."
"Can I feel?" Emily asked, tears springing to her eyes once more when JJ took her hand and held it against her swollen belly, feeling the life within kicking against her hand. "I've never felt anything more amazing, JJ."
Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes they resurrected the love they had once shared from the dust and built upon it until they had the solid foundation their love needed to grow and flourish.
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