DISCLAIMER: I don't own anything, I'm just a fan and borrowing the characters.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Pieces of Me
By lysachan


Special Agent Jennifer Jareau was beginning to think she'd literally turned to stone; as if a temporary paralysis had taken over her entire body, preventing her from moving a muscle. The hair at the back of her neck raised involuntarily as she shivered with fear. Time had frozen, making everything feel ridiculously surreal, and she was only vaguely aware of someone moving closer to her side, their sleeve slightly brushing hers.

At that very moment, the barrel of a 9mm semi-automatic was all JJ could focus on – a barrel that was firmly pointed at her head. Breathing seemed like the most difficult task in the world, and she could almost hear the blood rushing in her ears and feel the adrenaline coursing through her veins. Then someone was talking, random words and sounds filtering through her consciousness, and by concentrating on the distinctly familiar voice, JJ forced herself to shake the haziness that clouded her mind.

"...I'm sure we can work something out." Special Agent Emily Prentiss' rich voice sounded in her ears, and she was somewhat aware of her surroundings again. The other woman was standing within inches of JJ, their hands nearly touching, and the blonde instinctively pressed just a little bit closer.

"Shut up," the man holding the gun retorted, never lowering the weapon. The look in his eyes was dull, almost dead.

JJ attempted to rewind the last fifteen minutes in her head, because everything was still spinning uncontrollably, her thoughts twining together into a tangled up mess. It'd supposed to be a regular follow-up of a lead, but they'd both known something was off the moment they'd stepped into the house of Edward Stevenson. The man was just a little too smooth of a talker, every answer was just a little too perfect and calculated. The mere presence of the man had made JJ's skin crawl, and she'd noticed Emily grow more and more reserved by the minute.

Maybe their suspicions had been apparent on their faces, because she'd had no time to prepare herself for the unsub's lightning attack. Gun resolutely against her temple he'd forced them to discard their guns; the look on Emily's face had been that of sheer horror, a look JJ would never forget. Compelling them down the stairs into the darkness, Stevenson had lined them up against the wall in his basement.

The room wasn't very welcoming: a lone lightbulb was hanging from the ceiling, and there was a rank, moldy smell floating in the air. JJ didn't even want to think what the unsub normally used the room for.

"I won't have you ruining my plans, understand?" His voice was almost conversational, and JJ felt another shiver go down her spine.

"I understand," Emily said reassuringly, but they both knew they could never reason with this type of a delusional serial killer, a psychopath with a mission that was yet to be completed. Emily gestured slowly with her hands. "You will only make things more difficult for yourself if you kill us."

"Don't have much choice, now do I?" Stevenson grinned malignantly, clearly enjoying every ounce of the power he had over them.

"Think about it. Our colleagues will soon realize we're gone, and within no time they'll be swarming all over this place." Even amidst the utter panic she felt, JJ couldn't help admiring Emily's ability to remain calm, to seem almost nonchalant, while someone was pointing a gun at her and threatening her life. She was suddenly glad Emily was with her, feeling oddly safe with her despite the circumstances.

"I am not stupid, woman. Do you honestly think that I don't have a getaway plan? That I wouldn't have considered the possibility of someone intervening with my mission?" the unsub said incredulously. "The voices said there were people out to get me. I'm prepared." He cocked his gun, the nearly evil smile returning on his lips.

"You have a choice." There was a hint of desperation in Emily's voice now, and JJ swallowed hard. Had it been a movie, it would've been time for the cavalry to come and save the day, but nothing happened. They were alone, the rest of the world eerily quiet and unreachable around them.

"Yeah, I'm choosing this," Stevenson said, shrugging indifferently, and then pointed the gun at JJ. "I think the blonde should go first."

JJ's breath got caught in her throat. The silvery metal of the firearm was glinting frighteningly under the lightbulb. She clenched her fists, preparing for the inevitable, when suddenly Emily stepped in front of her.

"Don't you dare hurt her." Emily's voice was low and even, her body shielding JJ from the line of fire.

For the tiniest moment Stevenson was taken aback, his eyebrows twitching and jaw muscles clenching, but then he regained his composure and thoughtfully pursed his lips.

"Tut, tut." His eyes flashed dangerously. "Didn't your mother ever teach you not to argue with your superiors?" With that he shifted the gun in his hand and fired.

The sound of the gunshot was deafening, and JJ reflexively squeezed her eyes shut. A second went by, and another. When there was no pain anywhere in her body, JJ slowly opened her eyes again, just in time to see Emily starting to fall to the ground.

"Emily!" She wrapped her arms around the brunette's torso, trying to soften the fall, and soon they were both sprawled on the floor. Emily was laying partly on top of her, hand on her thigh, her breathing fast and ragged. Crimson liquid was oozing rapidly through the visible bullet hole in her grey pants, and JJ stared at it with a growing feeling of terror.

"You...bastard," Emily managed through clenched teeth, her hand already covered in blood.

Stevenson laughed in an almost giddy manner. He raised his gun again, his intention clearly to finish what he'd started, when suddenly there was a distinct sound of police sirens coming from a distance. Raising his eyebrow, he seemed to make a quick decision and slowly turned the weapon away.

"You're in luck, ladies. Our little rendezvous needs to wait just a little bit longer," he huffed, and with that he spun around and disappeared up the stairs, the heavy, metal door clicking shut behind him.

JJ turned to Emily, desperately trying to wrap her brain around what had just happened.

"Emily." She held on to the brunette even tighter. "Emily, you okay?" She cringed at the inanity of her own question.

Gently JJ placed her hand on the side of Emily's face, realizing that the brunette was awfully pale already. Panic started to rise in her chest like an unstoppable geyser, but she forced herself to calm down and think. She had to get Emily out of the house; the alternative was simply unacceptable. They had a chance to get away, there had to be a way out.

"It's really...cold," Emily said quietly, her eyes searching JJ's. "Are you okay? Are you hurt?" she asked then, small beads of sweat gathering on her forehead as the numbness slowly took over her muscles.

"I'm fine." JJ nearly smiled, wiping a lone tear from her cheek. It was so like Emily to be worried about her well-being, while it was Emily herself who was in serious need of medical attention.

"You should...probably make a...tourniquet. To stop the...bleeding." Emily panted and attempted to sit up, wincing when the movement sent a jolt of pain through her leg. "It's a...through and through, so it...should be fine." She groaned. "God, it hurts."

Springing to action, JJ stood up and spotted an old bed sheet on a nearby shelf. She grabbed the cloth, tearing a long strip from it, and then tied the strip around Emily's leg. Her hands were visibly shaking, and the horrifying panic was looming just under the surface, but she didn't allow herself to break down.

Not now.

Finished with the tourniquet, JJ adjusted Emily securely against the disgustingly seedy concrete wall and rapidly climbed the narrow stairs. The door was locked like she'd assumed, but she banged her fist against it in frustration anyway; there was no way she could get through it. Turning around, she studied their small space of imprisonment: besides the solid door, there was only a tiny window high on one wall, but you couldn't fit a child through it, let alone an adult.

"Come on, JJ. Think, think!" The blonde hastened herself, her eyes darting furiously around the room, but there was nothing to be seen. They were stuck. Completely and utterly stuck. If only the others would've noticed they were gone, or figured out that Stevenson was their unsub. The younger agent sighed and rubbed her forehead in frustration.

"Where's MacGyver when you...need him," Emily tried to lighten up the mood when JJ eventually sat back down beside her. That earned a tiny smile from the blonde, but the smile quickly turned into a frown when JJ's eyes landed on Emily again. The other agent's eyes were unusually clear, her breathing even more ragged and strenuous. "I'm really tired," Emily whispered, her head dipping forward before she could muster enough strength to fight the constantly growing fatigue.

"Emily! Look at me," JJ said firmly, taking Emily's face between her hands, seeking eye contact. "Look at me." Emily's eyes finally focused on JJ. "You're not allowed to fall asleep on me, do you hear?" The blonde's voice broke slightly, and she struggled to fight back the tears that threatened to fall.

"JJ? If I...I don't make it...," Emily began, but JJ cut her off by placing a finger on her lips.

"No. Don't even... Do you have any idea how corny that sounds?"

"JJ, please..." Emily struggled to stay focused on the other woman, the woman whose hands felt so soft and so warm against her own skin. "Tell...my mother that...I'm sorry," Emily whispered, concentrating on the blueness of JJ's eyes.

"You'll tell her yourself," JJ said assuringly. She didn't even bother fighting the tears anymore, tenderly brushing a lock of raven hair behind Emily's ear. They looked at each other for a long moment, their eyes never straying and JJ's hand still lovingly on Emily's cheek.

"There's so much...I wanted...to tell you," Emily finally rasped, breathing becoming more and more difficult. "I..."

"Shhh." JJ smiled a watery smile. "It's okay." Leaning in to kiss the brunette softly on the forehead, she was alarmingly aware of the constantly slowing heartbeat under her palm.

"I'm...tired...JJ," Emily whispered, her eyes sliding close and not opening again.

"Emily." No reaction. "Emily!" JJ tried to shaking her shoulders, but to no avail. "Emily, don't you dare! Don't you dare leave me!" she said fervently, cradling the other woman's now limp body in her arms.

This wasn't happening. Couldn't be happening. Just that morning they'd talked about their holiday plans, how they could possibly spend the Christmas together, since they'd both be alone due to work keeping them from their families. They had plans. It wasn't supposed to go like this.

"Emily. Emily, please wake up, please...," JJ pleaded, her tears falling freely, leaving dark circles on the brunette's smoke-grey jacket. The tourniquet was nearly soaked through with blood.

Suddenly there was commotion upstairs. The door swung open and Stevenson hopped down the stairs, a sarcastic grin spreading on his face when he saw the scene in front of him.

"Well, would you look at this? Only the chosen ones will survive." His eyes gleamed maniacally. "I needed to set up a little diversion for your buddies, but now I'm all yours." His tone was acerbic.

JJ didn't bother replying. She pulled Emily closer, glaring at the unsub who acted like he hadn't just killed her...friend.

She swallowed. This couldn't be happening, she never said...she never told Emily how much she loved her company, how much only her presence eased the inner turmoil their demanding work caused. JJ had never told how she went to work everyday, hoping to see just a glimpse of the brunette without the rest of the team around.

With growing impassivity she saw Stevenson reaching behind him for his gun, and for the second time that day she found herself staring down the same barrel.

Slowly the blonde turned her head and closed her eyes, burying her face in Emily's hair. She waited. She heard the familiar cocking of the gun and tightened her grip on the brunette, concentrating solely on the softness of her hair, and how it felt exactly like she'd imagined it would, so many times in the past.

The shot sounded loud in the stuffy space and JJ gave a start. It took her a while to realize that there was still no pain. She risked a quick glance at Stevenson and was met by the open eyes of their unsub who was now laying lifelessly on the ground, blood spreading on the concrete floor around his head like a halo.

Baffled, JJ teared her eyes away from him and saw Special Agent Derek Morgan slowly climbing down the stairs. The look on his face was that of pure shock and he was still holding his gun tightly with both hands. JJ was the first one to snap out of the haze.

"We need an ambulance!" she exclaimed and watched Morgan shake his head as if trying to clear his thoughts. "Morgan!" That finally did it; he snatched his cell phone from his belt and was barking orders at someone in no time. The rest of the team followed the robust agent down the stairs, the looks on their faces just as upset, but JJ didn't pay much attention to anyone else but the woman she was still holding.

Everything went by in slow-motion from that moment on. JJ watched as the paramedics eventually rushed in, hurriedly loaded Emily on a stretcher while intubating her, and then started climbing the stairs with their precious cargo. JJ started after them; there was no way she would leave Emily's side.

"JJ, there's nothing we can do." It was the leader of the team, Aron Hotchner, his voice calm and even as always. He took a hold of the blonde's arm, his eyes full of sympathy and understanding.

"Hotch, I'm going," JJ said in a way that left little room for discussion, pulled her arm free and went after the paramedics.

Hotch knew better than to argue with her.

The obscure shadows of an early evening danced slowly across the white walls of JJ's apartment. The blonde agent was sitting on the couch, her knees drawn up to her chest, eyes staring into space. She didn't bother turning on a light when the evening grew darker, but instead settled for the faint glow of a street lamp outside which illuminated the room just enough for her to be aware of her surroundings.

Three weeks. It'd been three weeks since the case that had gone horribly wrong in the end. But most importantly, it'd been three weeks since JJ had last seen Emily. At the time the other agent had been laying motionless and unconscious in a hospital bed; JJ had sat beside her, holding her still hand in hers, until Penelope Garcia, their computer tech, had basically dragged her home. The next morning Emily had been shipped to god knows where—by her family no doubt—and JJ had walked into an empty room lit by bright halogen lamps, overwhelmed by the clinical smell of hospitals that she absolutely loathed.

She didn't even know if the other woman was all right, let alone where she was. There'd been no contact from Emily's part, only bits and pieces from Hotch who had apparently spoken with someone on her end. It was from him that JJ had found out the other woman would physically be okay, that there would hopefully be no permanent injuries.

Although JJ had felt a great wave of relief wash over her after hearing his words, she couldn't help feeling cheated; she should've been beside Emily through all this. It should've been her who delivered the good news to the team, not Hotch. But, most of all, she felt like she'd been robbed of the contact with the other woman, the contact that she desperately needed. The sensation of loneliness and utter hopelessness filled every pore of her body, and at times she was certain she would choke on it.

There were moments when JJ had to pinch herself to make sure she was truly awake and hadn't simply imagined it all. The case, the shooting, everything felt unreal, like they'd taken place in another lifetime, in another universe. But then she saw the basement and the blood before her very eyes again, and she heard the impossibly loud gunshot in her ears as it ricocheted through her brain. She remembered every detail, every second, every feeling like it'd been yesterday.

Sighing, JJ rubbed her eyes tiredly to get rid of the images of blood and Emily's lifeless body that kept haunting her, day after day. It was the light knock on her front door which finally snapped the blonde out of her personal torment. She peered, confused, at the door over the back of the couch.

It was probably Garcia checking up on her again – something the computer whiz of the BAU had done on a regular basis since the Stevenson nightmare. JJ honestly did appreciate her concern, but she wasn't ready to talk yet, nor did she want to. And acting like everything would be just fine was something she wasn't capable of.

After a moment's hesitation, she gingerly stood up from the couch and walked slowly to the door. She'd assure Garcia that everything was alright, but that she really needed to be by herself right now. Christmas was just around the corner anyway and she knew the bubbly computer tech wouldn't take no for an answer then.

Not bothering to peek through the peephole, she undid the deadbolt and turned the knob. Swinging the door open she came to a halt as her eyes landed on the soft features of a particular FBI agent. The agent's smile was almost shy as her eyes landed on JJ, and the blonde's mouth opened and closed several times before her brain agreed to cooperate.

"Emily?" she whispered, certain that it was some sort of a hallucination, something her mind had simply conjured up, because her every thought during the past three weeks had been focused on that woman and that woman alone.

"Hi," Emily said softly, her navy blue coat casually hanging open, hands in its pockets. Her uncertain smile widened a notch, and JJ suddenly realized how much she'd missed seeing Emily smile. They studied each other intently for a little while, and then, as if of mutual agreement, they stepped into each other's arms.

JJ wrapped her arms around Emily's neck, holding on like her life depended on it. She felt Emily's hands on her back, her arms enveloping the blonde in a tight embrace. Closing her eyes, JJ concentrated on the steady heartbeat she felt under her palm, drawing strength from the realization that it was really Emily and that she was really alive.

Neither of them moved for long minutes, both content just holding each other. When they finally pulled apart, their hands remained entwined, the simple touch ensuring them both that the other was indeed safe and sound.

"I didn't know you were back. Are you okay?" JJ said, her eyes searching Emily's face, still not completely convinced the other woman was actually standing before her.

"Yeah, I'm fine." Emily nodded, her thumb softly stroking the back of JJ's hand. "I got back this evening and, well, I had to see you."

"I didn't know where you were. I would've..." JJ glanced away, helplessly shaking her head.

"I know, I'm sorry." Emily's eyes turned to the floor. "My mother. You know how it is with her." Her tone was apologetic.

"Where were you?"

"San Francisco. My parents have medical contacts there, so..." The brunette shrugged. Then she squeezed JJ's hand briefly. "I'm sorry I didn't call, or...anything. I knew Hotch would keep you informed, and I...I didn't want our first discussion since, since the incident to be over the phone."

"Emily, it's been three weeks," JJ said, a hint of hurt in her voice she knew Emily could easily detect.

"I know." The brunette sighed. "My mother basically chained me to the hospital bed. She's never been happy with me working for the FBI, you know that. She almost had a fit after that case in Milwaukee, when the unsub hit me over the head with a two-by-four." She chuckled. "You can imagine how she was after this."

"Yeah." JJ smiled briefly, her eyes involuntarily turning back to Emily's face.

"Um, JJ?" Emily asked after a moment, causing JJ to raise her eyebrows in a questioning manner. "Can I come in?" Her smile was amused. It wasn't until then that the blonde realized Emily was still standing in the hallway, and that anyone nosy enough to peek through their peephole might see them.

"Oh." JJ stepped back and gave a small chuckle herself. "Of course, sorry."

Emily strode past her into the apartment, letting go of the blonde's hand in the process, and JJ found herself immediately missing the soothing contact. Returning to the living room behind Emily, she noticed a small limp in the other woman's walk, and an instant pang of guilt washed over her.

Emily shed her coat on a nearby chair, and JJ switched on a lamp beside the couch, motioning the other agent to sit down. Biting the bullet, she asked:

"How's your leg?"

"Oh, it's fine. It's still a little stiff, and the plane trip over here didn't really help much." Lightly touching the spot where the bullet had entered, she glanced up at JJ's bewildered face. "JJ, please," she began, knowing exactly what the other woman was thinking. "Don't worry about it. It'll be fine."

JJ nodded, uncertainly. Their eyes locked, and just like so many times before, they didn't seem to be able to break the contact. Instead, they were irresistibly drawn to each other, like the two poles of a magnet.

"Would you like something to drink?" JJ finally asked, feeling slightly lightheaded. "Wine? Hot chocolate?" She tried to remember what else she had; grocery shopping hadn't really been that high on her 'to do' list during the past few weeks.

"I'd love some hot chocolate." Emily smiled and finally sat down on the comfy, beige-colored couch.

"Hot chocolate it is then." JJ smiled back, grateful for the small break as she stepped into the kitchen. After a little while she took a deep breath and returned to the living room with two mugs of steaming hot cocoa. Handing the other one to Emily, she sat down on the couch next to her, painfully aware of their close proximity.

Sipping from their mugs, the two women sat in silence, every once in a while glancing briefly at the other. JJ didn't dare to break the silence which was surprisingly comfortable. Finally Emily leaned forward and placed her half finished drink on the table in front of them, her posture clearly indicating to JJ that whatever she was about to say would be important. Clearing her throat, the dark-haired agent turned to face her.

"JJ, have you talked to anyone about it?" JJ had known this conversation would take place eventually, but it didn't mean she was any better prepared to it. After weighing the possible options, she went with the textbook answer:

"I went to the bureau shrink for a psych eval." She didn't dare look at Emily. "It's mandatory, you know it."

"That's not what I asked." Emily's voice was calm. "We all know how to bluff our way out of those. I asked if you've actually talked about it."

JJ could feel Emily's dark eyes on her, goosebumps raising on her skin. Sighing heavily, she followed the other woman's example and set her mug on the coffee table.

"No, no I haven't." She paused before continuing: "But really, Emily, it was you who got shot, not me." Picking at some invisible lint on the couch, she refused to look at the other agent.

"JJ, getting shot was the easy way out," Emily said quietly, her hand inching closer to JJ's, but not touching it.

Still concentrating on the non-existent lint, JJ shook her head. From her peripheral vision she saw Emily slightly tilt her head to the side, the way she always did when she was worried about something. In other circumstances JJ would've found it adorable, but now all it did was conjure up another surge of guilt, and the blonde felt like she was suffocating under it.

"It should've been me," she finally uttered, her lips turning into a humorless smile.

"What?" The frown on Emily's face deepened.

"It should've been me who got shot." At that the blonde risked a look at the other woman. "You...stepped in front of me, remember? You probably saved my life and almost lost yours."

"Well..." JJ watched Emily struggle for words as the agent was clearly trying to come up with a way to downplay her chivalrous act. Failing to do that, she simply gave a small, embarrassed nod. "Yeah."

"I can't believe you did that." JJ's voice was full of wonder. "It's my fault-"

"No," Emily firmly cut her off. She waited until the press liaison looked her in the eye again and then spoke quietly, her voice full of something that made JJ's heart nearly burst: "Don't you dare blame yourself. Because if we could go back, I would do it again in a heartbeat."

Emily paused, her eyes never leaving JJ's. "You know I would."

Emily's hand covered hers, the simple contact both electrifying and intimate, and JJ felt her heart flutter. She had fantasized about this, about everything for so long, and now it was finally happening and she was suddenly scared. The look in Emily's eyes took JJ's breath away, and she knew it was the perfect moment to lean in and kiss her, to finally give in to what they had both tried to ignore for what felt like an eternity.

But instead of doing what her heart was screaming at her to do, JJ drew her hand away and quickly stood up. Unable to look at the brunette, she stepped to the window and buried her face in her hands. She felt guilty and scared and anguished; all the feelings she'd been keeping bottled up deep inside her for so long suddenly seemed to linger just under the surface.

She was scared. In her life she hadn't had many people she trusted completely, and she didn't open up to many because it ultimately led to disappointment. She'd seen it happen too many times, she'd experienced it too many times. Hell, she'd almost lost Emily before she even had her.

JJ heard Emily slowly stand up from the couch and expected to hear the front door slam close any second, but the sound never came. Instead, she heard the other woman slowly make her way towards the window, and soon she sensed a familiar presence behind her. Her body flinched as she felt Emily's hands on her hips, but she couldn't help relaxing to the touch as the brunette's hands slowly encircled her waist, gently pulling her closer. The feel of Emily's body against her own was incredible, and she didn't dare open her eyes in fear of finding out it was all an illusion.

JJ's entire body tingled at the contact and she felt Emily nuzzle into her hair, her breathing softly caressing the blonde's cheek. When the older agent eventually spoke, her voice was a tender whisper: "I'm not going anywhere."

The simple statement finally did it as the emotions JJ had desperately tried to lock inside burst free. A strangled sob escaped her lips, and she covered her mouth with her hand, trying to fight the tears that were now freely falling down her cheeks. Random images flashed in her mind, details and feelings she'd wanted to forget; she saw Emily laying in a pool of blood, Stevenson standing menacingly above her, and she couldn't do anything. She was forced to stand still, to see everything again and again.

It should've been me.

JJ felt Emily gently turn her around to face her, the brunette then enveloping her in her arms. She couldn't do anything but to hold on to Emily as the sobs she didn't seem to be able to subdue wrecked her body. At the back of her mind JJ registered that, surprisingly, she didn't feel ashamed or embarrassed; she simply trusted the other woman to catch her as she fell.

As the teardrops ran down her smooth skin, little by little JJ felt the fear and doubt leave her body. She suddenly understood how crying could be a cathartic experience to a person, and with wonder she realized that the peace of mind she'd attempted to attain alone the last twenty years, Emily had given her in half an hour.

"It's okay," she heard Emily whisper when her tears finally dried. Lovingly stroking JJ's hair, the brunette kept murmuring sweet nothings to her ear, and JJ couldn't remember the last time she'd felt as peaceful or placid. She waited for her breathing to return to normal before raising her head from the crook of Emily's neck.

The other agent studied JJ, an encouraging smile on her lips, and wiped some moisture off her cheek with her thumb. Slowly she leaned forward and kissed the blonde gently on the forehead. JJ wasn't certain how it all happened, but it just felt like the most natural thing in the world to tilt her head slightly upwards and capture Emily's lips with her own.

JJ's entire body suddenly came to life, every cell humming with pleasure. Emily's lips were soft and perfect, and JJ could taste the sweet remnants of the cocoa that mixed with something that was purely Emily. It was, without a doubt, the most satisfying kiss JJ had ever experienced, and when they finally pulled apart, she wasn't sure she could live another second without feeling those lips on hers again.

"See?" Emily said quietly, her eyes sparkling and her lips slightly swollen from the kiss. "Still here."

JJ smiled widely, her fingers tenderly tracing the outline of Emily's jaw. Then she lowered her head on the brunette's shoulder, sighing contently; the mere presence of Emily was soothing, making her feel safe and accepted.

"You know, I've been wanting to do that since the first time I saw you," Emily confessed and chuckled. JJ pulled back a little in order to look Emily in the eyes.

"Oh, really?" Her voice was still hoarse from all the crying, but she didn't care.

"Yeah. I never knew getting briefed on protocol could be so sexy." The grin on Emily's face was blinding, and JJ blushed from delight. "You'd better watch out, though," Emily then added conspiratorially.

"Why?" JJ frowned, confused.

"Because..." The brunette leaned closer, her face all mysterious. "I'm going to kiss you again," she whispered saucily and wiggled her eyebrows before capturing JJ's lips again, earning a giddy yelp from the blonde.

JJ watched as her breath came out in white puffs, the coldness of a winter day nipping at her pale skin above the scarf around her neck. Capitol Hill with its enormous, white Capitol Dome rose high in the air before her, its reflection clearly visible on the surface of the Capitol Reflecting Pool.

She gripped the railing in front of her and leaned against it, enjoying the mid-afternoon sun that illuminated and brought out unexpected colors of the nature and buildings about her. It was strange, but JJ had never been on Capitol Hill before. She'd lived within a two-hour drive from it for nearly ten years, but it'd never crossed her mind to actually go and see it.

Watching ducks play in the pond and countless tourist groups milling around the big, beautifully decorated Christmas tree that had been set up in front of the Dome, JJ realized that she'd never felt quite so calm and serene as she did at that moment. She was so used to being worried over the smallest things, mulling over her problems in her head and not giving herself a chance to actually relax and live, that she'd forgotten how good it felt to simply be. If only it hadn't required a near-death experience to achieve that. She closed her eyes, enjoying the odd combination of the cold breeze and the rays of the sun that felt warm on her skin.

JJ knew Emily was there even before she felt the other woman's sleeve brush her side. Emily slid her hand in hers, their fingers entwining, and an involuntary smile spread on JJ's lips. Opening her eyes, the blonde glanced at Emily, her eyes roaming over the brunette's soft features and her pulse speeding up just by seeing her.

Emily, wearing a matching smile on her face, gave JJ a small peck on the cheek and sighed contently.

"Merry Christmas," she murmured lovingly, giving JJ's hand a little squeeze. The blonde felt her heart skip a beat at the softly spoken words, and she leaned in, her hand winding in Emily's hair as she kissed the brunette full on the lips.

JJ didn't care if someone saw them, or what people might think. All she knew was that everything in her life suddenly felt complete, as if she finally had all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that was her. Leaning back slightly, JJ studied Emily's face in awe.

"You're the right piece, you know that?" She asked quietly, running her hand along the lapel of Emily's coat.

"Um...thank you?" Emily chuckled and was given a playful swat on the arm by the blonde.

"It was a compliment, silly. You know what I mean." JJ tried to put on a serious face, but failed miserably. That made Emily laugh even more.

"Yes, I do know what you mean," the brunette finally said, still smiling, but her eyes were gentle, almost serious. "I'm fairly sure you're mine, too."

"Well, aren't we sappy today?" JJ joked, but the trace of pink on her cheeks told Emily that she was touched by her words.

"Must be the Christmas spirit." Emily nodded, a shade of sheepishness creeping into her appearance.

"Must be," JJ concurred.

"We'll just drop all the sappiness after the holidays."

"Sounds like a plan." They both quickly turned back to face the pond, Emily's hand again automatically taking JJ's. After a moment of reflection, the blonde spoke again: "Emily?"


"I was wondering," she began, her eyes still fixed on the enormous landmark before her. "It wouldn't actually hurt to be a little sappy every now and then."

"You know, I was just thinking the same." From the corner of her eye JJ could see Emily nodding.

"Like...once a month maybe?"

"Or, once a week. That doesn't sound too unreasonable either."

"It could be once a day, even."

"Absolutely, yes." They fell silent again. A group of Japanese tourists were snapping photographs of each other on the other side of the pond, and the two women absent-mindedly observed their animated gesturing.

"Emily?" At that point they turned to look at each other, Japanese tourists long forgotten. JJ licked her lips nervously, but there was no hesitation when she said the three little words she'd never uttered to anyone before in her life: "I love you."

The brunette blinked, and for a terrifying moment JJ thought she'd gone too far. But then the other woman raised their entwined hands on her chest and finally spoke, her voice a little raspy: "I think we'd better make it once an hour."

A relieved smile appeared on JJ's face, and she captured Emily's lips with her own, sealing the deal with a kiss.

The End

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