DISCLAIMER: I do not own Criminal Minds or its characters. I wish I did, because it's an amazing show and Paget Brewster and A.J. Cook are hot, but...
AUTHOR'S NOTE: (*Thanks go to Cabrini Green for a certain description of Will that appears in this chapter, which I couldn't resist making a place for in the story. Cheers!) Well, I'd hoped to be done with this much sooner, but alas finals, holidays, and then getting sick will throw a wrench in anyone's plans I suppose. My apologies. I'm pretty sure I've got the wrench out. Now if I could only find the monkeys that threw it in there and get them back in their proper place... Also, I do not speak French, German, or Italian. I wish I did, but despite my best efforts only a few languages have managed to stick in my thick head, and then only in fragments. I am aware of this shortcoming, but it is my sense that Emily's talent with languages is a part of who she is and mustn't be ignored. Anyone who sees an error in my usage is welcome to correct me, and if possible inform me of a more reliable translator than the one I'm using.
SPOILERS: None too specific. General plot points and such from across seasons two and three.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Kyandralin


Part Ten


Psychopathology: The scientific study of mental disorders


Date and Time: March 24, 2008, 08:56

Location: Quantico, Virginia Jennifer Jareau's Office


JJ looked up, not particularly surprised to find Penelope Garcia standing in the door of her office. She had been at work for all of an hour, and already the oracle had taken to dogging her steps almost constantly. She smiled affectionately, then lost her focus as she caught a glimpse of Emily through the open door. The older agent had just passed by to get some coffee, but Jennifer couldn't turn away from the spot, waiting to see the brunette walk back to her desk. Garcia's fingers snapping in front of her face brought her back to the present, and she turned to her friend, trying to ignore the smug, knowing look on her face. Any interest she had in her large friend was lost again when a flash of red caught her attention. She glanced up, finding brown-black eyes watching her. She froze, drowning in the intense gaze. Suddenly the profiler smiled, one of the full blown, goofy grins that always made the liaison smile in return, which she felt herself doing now despite her best efforts. Emily glanced at Garcia and tilted her head curiously, and JJ shrugged in return. Emily chuckled, saluting her with her coffee mug before moving on. Blue eyes stayed fixed on her for the few moments she remained in view, and their owner sighed when the dark form was gone.


"Huh?" she replied eloquently, struggling to focus on Garcia yet again. The larger "blonde" was staring at her, a particularly strange expression on her mobile face.

"Was there something you needed, Garcia?"

The analyst continued to stare at her, and JJ was starting to wonder if she was all right. Somehow Emily was there behind Garcia, edging past her into the office, handing a file over to the blonde, eyeing their friend uncertainly.

"Did you break her?" she asked, something between laughter and genuine concern in her voice.

"I think so," Jennifer agreed, glancing over at the file Emily had handed her before looking back up, intending to ask Garcia what was wrong, but the dark eyes on her acted like magnets, and she couldn't help but fall into them. Her mind had no trouble providing an image of what those eyes looked like in different light and different circumstances, and what she saw made her shiver. The brunette leaned against her desk, pointing out something in the file that needed her attention, and she dutifully looked at the line in question, trying not to tremble at the brush of Emily's hand against her shoulder. She was not unaware of the wrongness in being turned on by her fellow agent while reading about about a brutal series of murders. She just couldn't seem to do anything about it.

"Garcia, are you all right?" the dark profiler asked as Jennifer reviewed the report Emily had given her, and the blonde was almost embarrassed by the intensity of her relief when Penelope finally stopped staring at her and turned to the brunette.

"What the hell happened this weekend?" the analyst asked, and Emily smiled, reaching into the pocket of her gunmetal gray pants and handing over a small pen camera.

"Hotch and Rossi were great with the dogs," she remarked with a ready smile, her hand coming to rest where it had caressed just a moment before, "There are some great shots on there. I got a bunch of Rossi actually smiling, and Hotch too. Did Jennifer tell you we're going to get the guys to build a dog house and move them down here with us?"

Inexplicably JJ felt herself blushing when Garcia turned to her, eyes questioning.

"What happened this weekend?" she repeated, shaking her head, "You two are acting weird. Good weird, definitely good, but... Weird."

"Don't know what you're talking about, Garcia," Emily replied with her easy smile, squeezing Jennifer's shoulder as she rose, turning back at the door to toss another warm smile at the blonde.

"Get back to me on that when you get a chance?"

JJ nodded, and Emily left. Suddenly the office felt a little dimmer, a little grayer, and she found herself missing her friend immediately. With an internal sigh she resigned herself to the Garcia Inquisition, but even that couldn't quite take the lingering burn of Emily's touch away. As the oracle of all things knowable and unknowable fixed a questioning stare on her again, she couldn't help but break out laughing. Garcia was starting to look at her like she was worried she had lost her mind, and Jennifer had to concede that she just might have.

"Did you need anything, Garcia?" she asked again, trying and failing to keep a straight face.

"I need you to give me details!" the analyst exclaimed, "I'm dying here! What the heck happened between you two?!"

Jennifer laughed again as she waved her friend into a chair, trying to find words to describe the last two days. Nothing seemed to be quite enough though, so she did the next best thing. She pulled the collar of her shirt to one side, revealing a distinctive mark against her tanned skin.

"Is that... A hickey, Miss Jareau?!" Garcia demanded, and JJ shrugged helplessly, feeling her silly grin widening. She closed her eyes as the memories surfaced, her breathing becoming a little rough.

Emily had come up behind her in the hallway, surprising her with a with a light kiss as she passed. Unable to help herself, Jennifer had grabbed the older woman's arm, pulling the taller body against her own, deepening the kiss. Emily had been the first to pull away, only to kiss her way across her jaw and down her neck, all the while murmuring what had sounded like a prayer. JJ had tried to pick out the words between her own ragged gasps, but they weren't in English or any other language she knew. She made a mental note to ask later, then found better things to think about.

"Looks and sounds like you had a good time, Jayj," the analyst remarked approvingly. When JJ managed to open her eyes and return to the present, she found her friend smirking broadly at her, giving her one of the patented "Garcia the Oracle" looks.

"You have no idea," she replied, trying and failing not to sound as aroused as she was, or as disoriented, "That woman is going to be the end of me."

"You two..." Penelope started to ask, but the blonde shook her head, anticipating the question.

"We didn't have sex, Garcia," she replied, rolling her eyes, long since resigned to her friend's gutter brain.

"Well you did something to put that look on your face and that hickey on your shoulder," Garcia retorted, refusing to let up. The liaison smiled and nodded absently, vividly remembering exactly how that mark had appeared. She shifted, slightly uncomfortable with the tech goddess's scrutiny, then found herself thinking of another moment she had no intention of sharing, at least not yet.

They had finally managed to get lunch made and consumed, but JJ hadn't tasted a bite of her food. Giving in to the physical aspect of her relationship with Emily seemed to have sensitized her to every look and touch from the dark woman. She sighed, trying to ignore the way her body responded to her friend's presence as the brunette leaned over to pick up their plates and bring them to the sink. Just as she was about to praise herself for keeping her hands to herself for at least a few minutes longer, Emily whispered something in what might have been Italian in her ear. She didn't understand the words, but she didn't really need to. The tone of her partner's voice said it all. She turned, unable to stop herself from seeking out the brown-black eyes, looking for something she already knew would be there. As expected, those eyes were smoky and heated when they met her own, and a helpless sound, almost a whimper, escaped her as Emily continued to speak, at least until Jennifer cut her off with a forceful kiss.

"I have to remember to ask her how many languages she speaks," the blonde muttered, forgetting for a moment that her perky friend was still in the room. Garcia cleared her throat, an unsubtle reminder of her presence, and JJ felt herself blushing again. Shaking her head, she put down the file her partner had given her, pinching the bridge of her nose. She was feeling more and more like she was going insane. She couldn't even think about the beautiful brunette without wanting to touch her. They hadn't slept together the last two nights because neither woman trusted her own ability to keep her hands to herself. Before it had been difficult, but there had been a wall, or maybe a chasm would be a more accurate description, between them preventing any sort of "inappropriate" physical contact. In other words, they had been too damn shy and scared to make the first move. Now that move had been taken, however, and all bets were off. Terrified as she still was, and guilty, Jennifer knew it would be unfair to go back to that distance now, and she'd be lying if she said she wanted to. Not really, anyway. The scared part of her wanted to, wanted things to be safe and easy again, but that wasn't going to happen. Her body wouldn't allow her to forget the way it felt to touch and be touched by Emily, nor would it let go of the powerful reaction to that same woman speaking to her in foreign languages. She had never known herself to have a language fetish, but at least with her profiler companion she did, and an embarrassingly intense one at that.


Fingers snapped in front of her face, and the liaison realized she'd spaced out yet again. Just the thought of Emily and exotic tongues-

"Sorry, what?" she asked, desperately grasping onto the present and holding tightly. Penelope cocked her head, starting to appear more seriously concerned than anything else.

"Are you all right, Jayj? You're all over the place today."

The blonde nodded, running her hands through her hair in frustration and confusion.

"I don't know what's wrong with me, Garcia," JJ admitted softly, not able to look her old friend in the eye any more as she gave voice to the thoughts that were causing her internal chaos, "I can't stop thinking about her. All I want to do, all the time, is touch her. Not just sexually, either. I know we've had some... I guess it'd be called separation anxiety, since Samis took her, but the last couple days it's like I can't stand to have her more than a few feet away."

"What changed between you two, JJ?" the analyst asked again, this time more compassionately. It had become obvious to the tech that her blonde friend's world had been turned upside down, though clearly for pleasant reasons this time, but even so she knew JJ didn't always respond well to sudden changes in her life. Considering the work they did, they all took some comfort in routine and constants, but JJ was more that way than some.

"I kissed her," the liaison whispered, and smiled wanly at what Garcia knew was a rather surprised look on her face, adding quietly, "Yeah, I thought she'd be the first one to crack too. But it was me. I kissed her when we were in Montana, in Keira Datton's bedroom."

Penelope considered that for a moment. She hadn't ever met the writer in person, but the different stories she'd heard from her teammates, and her brief discussion with the young woman on the phone, had led her to believe Keira had been a very wounded human being with a good, if broken, heart and active mind. Her book, Fracture, had furthered that opinion. If what she'd found out was true, and she knew it was, Keira had suffered greatly from the loss of both women she'd loved, Jenna to insanity and the other to Jenna. There was a certain poetic justice in JJ coming to terms with her attraction to Emily in Datton's house, but it still struck her as a little macabre. She wasn't about to say that, though, especially since her friend wasn't done.

"After we got home from Montana we talked about what was getting in the way, then more kissing happened and..."

JJ trailed off, then finally looked back up. The tech goddess was stunned by the turmoil in the liaison's blue eyes, and the raw need she saw there.

"We agreed it'd be better not to share a bed until things were more settled," JJ went on, sounding more strained with every word, "but the only reason I've been able to sleep at night is because of the medication my shrink gave me for insomnia and nightmares. I don't know what to do without her there, Garcia, but I sure as hell don't know what to do with her."

Again the hacker considered, and this time she smiled affectionately, wondering, though not for the first time, how they had possibly been friends so long and this had never come up.

"Honey, I think you know exactly what to do with her."

The blonde blushed darkly, but at least some of the stricken look faded from her eyes.

"I know what I want to do," JJ retorted, adding in a low voice, "God knows I've thought about it enough."

She shook her head, sighing softly before giving the tech a frank look.

"Garcia, I've never been with someone like her. She could have anyone. Just look at her... She has it all. She's gorgeous, she's rich, she's brilliant..."

The liaison trailed off, then added, "And she has this really distracting ability to speak way too many languages."

Before Garcia could ask more about that, JJ shook her head again, apparently struggling to refocus on her original point.

"And I'm just the pretty blonde soccer player from East Allegheny," she finished, her shoulders hunching beneath the green fabric of her short-sleeved silk top, "Emily Prentiss should be totally out of my league. So how is it that I'm the one she wants to be with? What if the sex turns out to be awful? Not that Emily would be awful at it. She doesn't fail at anything, even something like this that's totally new to her. She doesn't know how. I might be, though. And what if I am? She's so-"

"So in love with you, JJ," the hacker interrupted, not liking the direction her companion's thoughts had taken or the slightly hysterical tone of voice, "That woman wouldn't notice if Angelina came sauntering in naked and danced on her desk. She'd be too busy looking at you."

"Emily would notice," the other woman corrected after taking a moment to absorb that image, "She's a profiler. Noticing things is what she does."

Garcia let out an exasperated sigh, mock-glaring at her best friend.

"Yeah, that's right," she agreed after a moment, a slow, gentle smile spreading across her face, "but as long as she's been here, the only person Emily has noticed is you. She may know everyone's name and life story, and she might know who's doing who in the janitor's closest, but you're the only one she's really looked at. It doesn't matter to her who else she could have. You are the only one she wants. Haven't you noticed that by now? The woman would turn down Derek Morgan if he asked her out. That should tell you something."

JJ laughed, but Penelope didn't miss the shadows that darkened the blue eyes at the mention of the handsome agent. It hurt to see, but she didn't comment on it. Derek would have to mend things with JJ himself. She couldn't help him here. The liaison couldn't forget that the dark man was partially responsible for what had happened to Emily, and Garcia knew better than to hope that would go away particularly soon.

"What should I do, Garcia?" her friend asked suddenly, and the tech goddess had to think for a moment to remember just what they were talking about. When she did she grinned, patting the other agent's hand.

"Well, first you tell her. Then you get on the internet and do some reading. After that, well... It's kind of up to you, Jayj," she replied with a smile, then leaned in as she added quietly, "And you might want to think about the fact that she's gorgeous, she wants you, and I've heard that people who are really good with languages have really talented tongues."

She laughed as JJ went from bright red to pale and back, sliding out of her chair and leaving the office, closing the door behind her to give her frustrated and distressed friend some semblance of privacy. As she walked back out into the bullpen Emily waved her over, which worked out since Garcia had something to say to the older woman anyway.

"I forgot to give you this," the brunette remarked as she approached, holding out a book, "When we were at Keira's cabin we got the books she wanted to give to you and Reid. I already gave him his."

Garcia took the novel with visible glee. Fracture had been heart-wrenching and exciting all at once, keeping her up late at nights to finish it, and she couldn't wait to sit down with this new book. Emily had refused to let her borrow the manuscript Keira had left her, so she'd been forced to wait. The new book, Madness, was thick enough to satisfy her that the story had not been dismissed by its creator. For a moment she forgot what she'd wanted to tell Emily, then it came back to her, and she grinned at the profiler, as well as the other BAU agents.

"I think we should all go out to the club Friday night," she declared, going on before they could interrupt, "And I'm not taking "no" for an answer. And Em, come see me later. You and I need to have a little talk."

Emily made sure to look suitably terrified, which wasn't much of a stretch. She loved Garcia dearly, but the woman was more unpredictable than anyone she had ever met, and some of her ideas and "talks" were more than a little disturbing. Shrugging to herself, she decided the best thing she could do was get her work done and face whatever the analyst wanted to talk about as soon as possible. Profiler she was, but she had only rarely found herself able to predict what Penelope Garcia would do or say.

"Finally, an excuse to go out," Morgan commented out loud with a grin, and she glanced over, finding, as she had expected, Reid looking strangely at the older agent.

"You need an excuse?" he asked, right on cue. Emily chuckled, turning back to the file she held. She made several additions to the report before closing it and reaching for the next one, consciously closing her mind against the first shock that always occurred whens she looked at the pictures and read the words describing, in brutal detail, what had happened before and after those pictures had been taken. She was almost halfway through the report when the horror of what she was reading penetrated her mental barriers, and she froze, staring blankly at the photograph in front of her. It was from the case before her kidnapping, the one in Philadelphia with the storage locker and the glory-seeking FBI agent. What had caught her up was a description of the burns inflicted on the corpses of the women she had seen dug up out of the earth. She had seen the electrical burns first hand. She had known they would be there. She just hadn't known what they felt like yet. The profiler closed her eyes, trying to breathe slowly and deeply to combat her building nausea.

"Prentiss?" a voice asked her from behind, and she jerked violently, one hand actually going for her gun in the first few seconds of startled reaction. Rossi held out his hands, and she blinked a few times to assure herself it was really the Italian agent and not someone else.

"Emily?" Reid asked, looking over at them curiously. The brunette tried to calm herself and block the memories, but after a moment she gave up, brushing past Rossi and heading down the hall. She wanted to turn and go to JJ's office, knowing the beautiful blonde's presence could make the memories stop, or at least fade, but her body had other plans. She barely made it to a toilet in the thankfully empty restroom before she was on her knees, vomiting what had been a particularly tasty breakfast. A new sound, that of a door closing and a lock sliding into place, made her start to turn, going for her gun again, but a warm hand covered hers while another gently pulled her hair back. Every muscle in her body relaxed all at once, and she gasped, falling limply against the body that had appeared behind her.


"I've got you," the other agent assured her, scooting further into the stall so Emily could reach the toilet if she needed it again. The profiler sighed as elegant fingers worked their way into her hair, pulling it back and tying it in a ponytail. As best she could tell she had managed not to get any vomit in the dark mass, but she wasn't going to count on having that kind of luck more than once. Moments later she was leaning over the bowl again, and again Jennifer's hands were there, bracing her until she fell back, then guiding her into an embrace, where she sat shivering.

"Easy, Em," her partner's voice whispered soothingly, "just breathe."

She did as ordered, then tasted her breath and winced.

"Got any breath mints?" she asked hoarsely, and JJ chuckled, handing her one from a tin. The strong taste made her feel a little more human, and she eyed her companion, only then able to wonder what the blonde was doing on the floor of the bathroom with her.

"I saw you pass my office," Jennifer explained in response to the silent question, "And you looked upset. I kind of thought if you weren't coming to see me you were probably on your way here. Since I know you're not hungover and I'm reasonably sure you aren't still sick, I had a good idea what might have happened."

She nodded slowly, allowing herself the luxury of resting her head against the younger woman's shoulder as she caught her breath.

"I was checking over the report on the case in Philadelphia," she offered, well aware that the reason for her breakdown would be important to her partner, "And I came to a description about the electrical burns. It... took me off guard."

She felt JJ stiffen, then slowly relax, and she looked up curiously, seeing understanding in the clear eyes. Seemingly without thought a calloused hand touched a spot on her left thigh where they both knew there was a lingering scar from an electrical burn, the partial cause of the damage to her leg. Emily sighed, burying her face in her partner's shirt.

"Sometimes I catch myself crying for no apparent reason," the blonde murmured suddenly, "or getting sick from reading a file. My shrink says it's a healthy response that means my mind is aware of the cause of my trauma and is trying to deal with it. You know what I told him?"

Emily waited, and Jennifer sighed shakily into her hair.

"I told him," the liaison went on, tears in her voice, "that there was nothing healthy about watching the most precious thing in my life be tortured and nearly killed by a sadistic bastard. There's nothing healthy in that at all."

The words touched the profiler more than she had thought they would, and she found herself whimpering softly as she buried her face in her companion's chest again. JJ just held on tightly and let her cry. If Emily wasn't mistaken, the younger woman was crying right along with her. Finally the tension eased and she could think again, finding herself embarrassed by her breakdown. Jennifer, as always, seemed to pick up on that and smiled affectionately, shaking her head.

"Stubborn woman," she muttered. There was a moment of silence between them, then JJ bent her head to kiss her. Emily almost jumped, startled by such an open display, especially at work, but before the reaction had entirely processed her hands were moving on their own, one to tangle itself in Jennifer's hair and the other wrapping around her back, pulling her closer.

"I love you so much," the blonde whispered against her lips, kissing her again more firmly before leaning back, blue eyes a little glazed. Emily wanted to follow her, but she was acutely aware both of the barely masked taste of vomit in her mouth and where they were. Instead, she forced herself to breathe slowly, getting her breath back before meeting the younger woman's gaze again.

"Ich liebe dich auch. Mehr als Wörter können beschreiben," she replied, smiling to herself at the faint tremor that made its way through her companion's body where they were still touching. She had been told by her male friends in college that German was not a language that got the girls going, but she hadn't found that to be the case with the one woman she had tried it out on. Then again, she had the sense that JJ was getting as much of a thrill out of the tone as she was the language itself. The words, "I love you too. More than words can describe", would have been powerful enough in English, but she had noticed her beloved had a certain... weakness... for her skills in language.

"You and I need to talk about that particular talent of yours at some point," the liaison almost gasped, freeing a hand to pull at blonde hair in visible frustration. The brunette grinned at the gesture, willing herself to let go of the shock and the fear, at least for a while longer. She could deal with it at home, but not now and not here.

"I need to wash my mouth out," she decided aloud, intentionally breaking the tension between herself and her partner, "Then we need to go back to work. Eventually someone is going to need to use the restroom."

The remark made the other woman stiffen, and for a second Emily saw a flash of fear in her eyes. A moment later it was replaced by rage, and JJ stiffened, her grip tightening to the point that it was almost painful.

"I hate that you care," Jennifer nearly growled, "and I hate that I care even more. I hate that we have to care. Damn it, Emily... I'm in love with you. I finally figure that out and face up to it, but we still have to hide."

The profiler didn't know what to say to that. It was true. They were both cautious and private by nature, and here at work they were doubly so. What choice did they have? In her mind, this thing they had was still too new, too fragile to risk exposure at work. It could shatter everything, and she didn't know if she could deal with that. JJ shook her head with a sigh, loosening her hold.

"I'm sorry, Emily," she murmured, pressing a light, shy kiss to her hair, "Let's get you cleaned up, if you're sure you'll be okay. If not, let me talk to Hotch and I'll take you home."

The brunette waved away the idea, getting up gingerly and heading for the sinks.

"I'm all right," she assured her companion, her mind still focused largely on Jennifer's earlier outburst even as she thoroughly rinsed her mouth before speaking again, "It just caught me off guard. I know better now."

Strong hands gripped her shoulders, then one brushed her hair out of the way. A soft kiss brushed the back of her neck, and she shivered, her knees threatening to give way for a new reason.

"I love you, Emily," the blonde whispered, her voice more felt than heard, "If I ever do something to make you think otherwise, or if I'm a little too good at pretending I don't here at work, let me know. I've been hiding it so long I haven't learned to show you properly yet, even when we're at home."

"You're doing a pretty good job right now," Emily retorted, hearing the hoarseness in her own voice and blushed, embarrassed by how responsive her body was. Jennifer chuckled, and in the sound she heard an echo of her own emotions.

"Just something to get you through the day."

With that the blonde was gone, leaving the profiler to try to gather herself. She was beyond grateful that the Bureau couldn't put cameras up in the restrooms, making it one of the only places in Quantico free of surveillance. As it was, it took several more minutes before she felt able to face her job again, though that had a little less to do with the left-over trauma of her torture and more to do with what her partner had just done and said. When she sat down at her desk no one said anything, and she found herself thankful her team knew to let it be. She saw Rossi glance in her direction once, then nod slightly and move on, as if letting her know he knew everything had been handled. The rest of the work day passed in relative peace, since they didn't have any urgent cases, which was something of a minor miracle. If she didn't know better, she would have thought JJ had done it on purpose, but she would never do that. She cared too much. They all did.

"Emily!" Garcia called as she was considering packing up to go home. The tech's voice reminded her of their earlier conversation, and she was torn between cringing and laughing. She followed the larger woman into her office, where she was promptly sat down and fixed with an intense stare. She sighed mentally at the realization that this probably wasn't going to be a short, easy "girl talk". She was tired and the aftereffects of her breakdown earlier had started to make themselves known. She just wanted to go home and fall into bed.

"So. You and JJ finally-"

"We did not have sex, Garcia," she interrupted with no small amount of resignation. The tech goddess glared at her, shaking her head.

"Why does everyone assume that's the first thing I think of?"


Emily cut herself off and just raised an eyebrow at her friend. Garcia sighed, flopping unhappily into her own seat, silently admitting defeat on that point.

"That wasn't what I was going to ask," she declared after a few moments of awkward silence, "I was going to ask about you, Em. I want to know how you're doing with all of this. You've been waiting on our girl forever and now you've got her. I'm just wondering how you are."

The brunette wondered how she could possibly answer that when she didn't know herself. She wanted more than anything to be happy, but in all honesty she was terrified. Every time she and Jennifer had made progress in their relationship, something had gotten in the way. Something had threatened to tear them apart. She knew she was strong willed, and stubborn to say the least, but she also knew she wasn't invincible, and neither was the woman she had only just earned the right to call her partner.

"You're waiting for the world to go upside down and take her away, aren't you?" the oracle asked softly in one of her moments of apparent clairvoyance. Emily scrubbed wearily at her face, wishing she wasn't so transparent while at the same time grateful she didn't have to find the words for her chaotic feelings.

"Honey, you have to have a little faith. If Jayj weren't madly in love with you I guarantee she wouldn't have gone this far."

The big agent paused thoughtfully, then muttered irritably, "If she wasn't in love with you she wouldn't have run to the crawfish and let him put his mini-lobster claws all over your woman(*). I love JJ, but she has to be the most dense human being I've ever met when it comes to love."

Emily tried not to laugh, but she couldn't help it. The image of Will as a lobster was too funny, and she was still feeling a bit vindictive toward him. Her darker side put the Will-lobster in a pot of boiling water, and she dragged her attention back to Garcia, deciding it was better not to go down that road.

"She has her reasons," she managed instead, trying to shake off the intense possessiveness that welled up in her when she thought of LaMontagne putting his hands, or any other part of him, near Jennifer. Garcia clucked at her, obviously not falling for it.

"Honey, all the reasons in the world don't make it go away for you."

Emily sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. When she realized she'd done it she smiled to herself. She'd picked up the gesture from Jennifer without meaning to. The look on Garcia's face started her laughing, even as she reflected on the reason she wasn't more upset about the Will "issue".

Jennifer's hand wrapping around her arm pulled her attention from checking the slowly simmering meal in the crock pot, and she turned, smiling warmly. The smile faded when she got a good look at her partner's face, however, but before she could ask the blonde gently guided her to the couch and took a leather-bound journal off the table where she'd obviously left it.

"Emily, I need you to listen to something for me, and I need you to promise me you'll wait to respond until I finish."

Confused and a little concerned, the profiler gave her word, watching as Jennifer breathed in deeply and opened the journal, visibly bracing herself. Just as Emily was going to say something, to tell her this wasn't necessary or something, anything to take the look of growing fear and depression from those dull blue eyes, the liaison started to read.

"How can I go home and face Emily after what I did? How can I look her in the eye and tell her what happened? I don't even know what happened! One minute we were working on the case, the next I was naked in bed with Will. I don't even remember how we went from one to the other! We weren't drunk, he would never drug me, and if I had said no, he would have stopped. So there's no excuse. I had sex with Will, and now somehow I have to explain this to Emily.

What am I going to say? "Hey Em, I fucked a guy I had no interest in last night. How'd you sleep?"

Uh, no. That's not going to work. She's going to want to know why, and I don't know what to tell her. Or I do, but I don't know if I can actually say it, because the only reason I can think of will be something I can't explain away, and she'd have every right to slap me.

"Emily, I slept with Will because it was the easiest, most convenient way to relieve all the sexual tension between us."

Yeah, that'll go over well. I'd slap me if I were her. I still might. Garcia was right. The woman's a saint. Why does she even put up with me?

That is the question, isn't it? Why is someone like Emily interested in me? Okay, JJ, stop being an idiot. You really want to know why she's in love with you. God, I'm starting to sound like my cousin.

Emily Prentiss isn't the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, but she comes close. She's probably one of the strongest and smartest people I've ever known.

I love her eyes. There have been times I meant to tell her exactly that, but I never have. I'm still such a coward. I look in her eyes and I want to know everything they see. But I get so scared of what they see in me.

That's the problem. Some part of me is still that little girl from a small town with a family that doesn't have a clue what I think or feel. Emily... It's like she knows everything.

Why can't my family see whatever it is she sees? Why can't my parents look at me and see someone worth loving?

Why can't I look at Emily and tell her the truth? Am I just like them? Am I so used to hiding behind my badge and title that I can't just stop and be Jennifer for her?

What would she do if I did what I've been thinking about doing way too often these last few weeks? Bet that would put quite a spin on things.

How would Emily react if I kissed her on the mouth like I've been dreaming of for days? What if I told her I'd been wondering what her lip balm tasted like and if her lips were really as soft as they look?

What if I ripped off one of those perfectly fitting shirts she wears and just buried myself in her breasts? That would be different.

But I don't want to do all that. Or I do. I REALLY do... but I don't without her knowing that I don't just want her body, beautiful and tempting as she's been sure to let me know it is. I want that smile she gives me when I make her favorite breakfast, and the tears when we watch one of those incredibly sappy movies that she says break her heart. Who knew Emily Prentiss was such a romantic?

It's not just that, either. I want her to be the one holding me when I wake up or fall asleep. I want to be the one she goes to when she can't sleep, the voice that soothes her after a nightmare, and the person she can depend on when she needs that little bit of extra encouragement.

I want her to know me, everything about me. I want her to know that she's the first and last person I think about every day, and that if I could have taken her place in that damned bomb shelter, I would in a heartbeat.

Samis. Jonah Samis would have killed me. I wouldn't have been able to stay quiet. Sure, at first I could have. Or maybe I would have fought and cursed until I was so raw I couldn't scream. But he would have broken me. I don't think I'm weak. It's not that. It's just that it would have felt good to scream after all of that. Not so good to die, though.

I still remember what it felt like to hear her say my name when we found her in that damn bomb shelter. She was so hurt, and she still wanted me to get out of there. If our positions had been reversed and I had been the one taken, would it have taken her as long?

I digress, or do I? Did I really have a subject to go off of? Oh, right. Emily and sleeping with Will.

Sex with Will.

I betrayed Emily. It sounds so dramatic, but it's true. I betrayed her by going to New Orleans, by sleeping with him, and I'm still doing it. Thinking about what it would feel like to- no. I can't think about that. Not only is it never going to happen, especially now, but it's wrong.

Why is it never going to happen? Because I'm a coward. I can smile nicely for the cameras and say all the right words, but inside I'm still that girl. And Emily is from a world that even now I don't have a frame of reference for. I don't fit in. And worse, I could never bring her back there with me. My family wouldn't understand, and they'd be horrible to her. She'd try to be kind, but they'd shut her out. They'd make her miserable, and me too. I'd never hear the end of it. Between sleeping with a daughter of "aristocracy" and a woman, I'd never be forgiven. I'm not sure which would be worse in their eyes.

Why does it even matter? Why do I care what they think? I barely talk to them any more.

They'd approve of Will. He's a nice boy who they could understand like they'd never understand Emily. He'd be a good father of their grandchildren. The cousins would all be jealous. And they'd help him force me out of the BAU, force me to become a tame mother and daughter. I couldn't stand up to all of them.

Emily wouldn't make me leave the BAU, even if she wanted me to. And she knows how hard family can be. She's been there. If I had told her all this before she'd have understood.

But I just had to go have sex with Will.

And now I have to find a way to tell her, because I won't lie to her or hide something like this. She'd figure it out, or Will would call and she'd answer the phone, and it wouldn't occur to him not to tell her because he doesn't know. No one knows.

No one knows how I really feel about Emily Prentiss. No one knows because until recently, until this, I didn't know. They might have guessed. I'm sure they've made assumptions. But they don't know. And Emily doesn't know. She doesn't know because I'm too busy trying to become independent of everyone, especially my family and at the same time make them all like and love me.

She doesn't know because I didn't tell her when I had the chance.

The one person who may actually love me is the person I'm gonna hurt the most. The person I've fallen in love with is the person I think I might have pushed too far."

Jennifer took a slow, trembling breath, her hair falling across her eyes, hiding her face.

"I wrote that on the plane home," she explained softly, not giving the brunette a chance to speak "I promised myself I'd show you this. My shrink has me writing about all my doubts and fears, all the things that keep me from just... Letting go with you. I can't keep taking what you have to offer until I know you've seen all of me, and this is the only thing I could of to start that."

Unable to tolerate the frustrated fear and confusion in her beloved's voice, she pulled the younger agent to her, kissing her fiercely and unexpectedly. Jennifer shivered, then she was sobbing into Emily's chest, shaking her head almost violently.

"I love you," the brunette whispered, making herself heard over her partner's keening, broken wail, "I love you so much. You haven't pushed me too far, my Jennifer. How could I walk away after that, even if I had wanted to, which I don't? You just want to be accepted. You want to be loved and accepted for the incredibly wonderful person you are. If you'll let me, I can give you that. Please let me, Jennifer. Please..."

"Je... JJ knows what she did," Emily said simply, shaking herself free of the memory. She shook her head, refusing to let Garcia argue with her.

"She knows, Garcia," she repeated firmly, "And it totally sucks for both of us, but we're handling it."

She wouldn't accept any more arguments on that subject. Had Penelope seen Jennifer that day or heard the words she'd uttered so fearfully she'd understand why Emily couldn't be angry or upset. Oh, there were times her mind tried, but it never lasted long.

"I was hurt, Penelope," the brunette stated simply, "and I still am. That hasn't changed. What has is my understanding of the situation. Okay?"

The profiler had gotten up and was striding toward the door before the analyst could say anything, but Garcia's quiet voice caught her before she could escape entirely.

"Then why is it still so hard for you both to let each other in?"

Emily froze, her hand suspended in midair. She could feel her large friend watching her, but she couldn't think of anything to say.

"I'll tell you, Emily. You're so busy protecting each other that you've wrapped yourselves up so tight it's amazing you can breathe. I get it with Jayj, Em. I do. But what are you so afraid of? You know she loves you. The woman adores you, Emily, and from the look on her face earlier she'd gladly jump your bones given half a chance. So why are you so afraid to let her see you?"

The profiler shivered, slowly turning back to the tech goddess, fighting tears. Something in the question had threatened all her control, leaving her reeling mentally.

"No, Garcia," she rasped, shaking her head slowly, "She's already seen me. That's not the problem."

"So what is?" Penelope pressed, staring at her with wide eyes that radiated sympathy, confusion, and concern, "What is it, Emily?"

Emily took a step to the side, leaning against the wall next to the door. Without meaning to, she brushed the scar on her face with her fingertips. When she realized what she'd done she stared at her hand, feeling lost inside her own skin.

"Today started out so well," she muttered absently, feeling a weight pressing against her skull. Suddenly the door next to her opened, and a blonde head poked in.

"Garcia have you seen- Emily!"

Jennifer slipped inside without another word, closing the door behind her, blue eyes shifting from her dark partner to her friend.

"What did you say to her?" she demanded, almost growling. Garcia relayed the strange conversation they'd had, and JJ sighed, turning from her large friend to the distant, blank woman next to her.

"Come on, Emily," she murmured gently, taking the hand the profiler had been staring at, "Let me take you home."

With a wave and what she hoped was a reassuring look at Penelope she led Emily out by the arm. The brunette followed her lead, but there was no energy or grace in it. Her partner was lost in her mind, which was a state JJ had learned to fear. All her energy and focus turned to getting her beloved friend somewhere the damaged woman's scattered mind would recognize as safe.

"Come on, sweetie," she whispered once they reached the car, silently praying that Emily would either come to her senses or at least not get any worse before they reached home, "Hang in there for me."

At her urging the older agent flopped gracelessly into her seat, and Jennifer leaned over to fasten her seatbelt for her. Before she could straighten and go around to her own seat, a hand brushed her face and she turned to look at its source, only to feel lips press against her own. She almost pulled back and away, but stopped herself when she remembered her conversation with Emily that morning. JJ forced herself to let go, to forget that they were in the parking lot at work and could be seen. Instead the liaison focused on the kiss, prolonging and deepening it. It was partially in passion, but the larger driving force was the hope that the unexpected gesture was a sign Emily was coming out of her head.


The word came out as a rough sigh, and when she shifted to look into brown-black eyes she was met with such longing and trust that she could barely stop herself from going right back for more.

"Yes, you are," JJ replied instead, deliberately keeping her tone light and warm, "Are you back with me now?"


Emily kissed her again, and this time it was a slow build to something more passionate, something Jennifer had a hard time resisting.

"I suppose I must be," the brunette murmured as they broke apart again, the slow, almost shy smile JJ had fallen in love with crossing her face, "but I wouldn't mind testing that in more detail."

Despite herself the liaison blushed, noticing as she looked away for a moment that her hand was resting on her partner's thigh.

"You always come to rescue me, you know," the profiler continued, drawing blue eyes back to her, "even in my nightmares. You always come."

"I always will," Jennifer promised, hearing her complete conviction and determination in the words. After a long moment of shared silence and a stare that melted her heart she carefully backing out of the car and closing the door, going around to the other side. Once she was settled she looked over, knowing even before she did that the dark eyes were tracking her every move.

"What happened, Em?" she queried gently, backing the vehicle up and getting them out of the parking lot, "You got a little lost there."

The taller woman nodded, never looking away from the blonde.

"Something Garcia asked me about why I can't seem to let you see all of me... It just sort of..."

Emily trailed off, and Jennifer took the opportunity presented by a stop light to glance over at her, worried when she saw some of the same sense of distance and loss in her face. Moving slowly so she wouldn't startle the other woman, she brushed her fingertips across Emily's sleeve, then slid her hand into the longer one. After a few seconds the profiler's fingers closed tightly around hers, much to her relief.


"You've seen me, Jennifer," Emily observed once they had started moving again, "Even though Garcia may not realize just how much. There's just this little bit that I hold back. You have me, heart, mind, and soul. But this little bit of me... It's that dark place where I bottle up all my doubts and fears. It's where I keep the memories of what happened, and the emotions that come with them. Today, that part of me got a little to close. And what Garcia said, about me not letting you see me... I don't want you to see that part. It's damaged. I hate that part of me."

"But I don't, Emily," the blonde answered, tightening her grip on the hand she still held, "I'm not about to pick and choose parts of you that I love. That's not how it works. I may be a little new at all of this, but I know that much. Besides, I have a place like that too. How could I ever judge you for that?"

Feeling that the words were entirely inadequate, she sighed and repeated, "That's not how it works."

There was silence in the car again, and Jennifer contented herself with waiting. Finally Emily shook her head, a motion she caught out of the corner of her eye.

"I'm so tired. I don't think I'm really thinking clearly. I should know better."

"You should," the liaison teased, though she knew her eyes betrayed her, "but it's all right, Em. I'll make dinner tonight while you relax, maybe take a hot bath, and if you're very good I'll make you my special dessert."

Dark eyes widened, and Emily slowly started to smile.

"Cioccolato," the brunette breathed, and the one word was almost a moan. JJ jerked the wheel, but she managed to regain control before swerving into anything. She stayed quiet the rest of the trip home, not wanting to risk that again despite wanting to continue their discussion. Once there JJ herded her friend into the bathroom, setting out a robe, silk pajamas, and a towel before retreating, knowing full well she couldn't resist if Emily decided to give her a show, which she sometimes did. She forced herself to ignore the knowing smirk as she walked away, intentionally not looking back.

"That woman is going to be the death of me," she muttered to herself as she started to cook, finding comfort and clarity in the preparation of the meal they would eat. She was still worried, she decided. It had been too easy. JJ knew she shouldn't complain about easy at this point, since that was so rare, but something felt wrong. It wasn't until she was putting the finishing touches on the fish, rice, and vegetables she'd decided to steam that she figured out what it was. Emily shouldn't have been so tired that her mind caved in on itself, if only for a few minutes. She shouldn't have been exhausted enough for a case report to send her to the women's room to vomit.

"How much have you been sleeping?" she asked as she set out the plates, smiling at the short gasp the question caused. Emily had slid into the kitchen, probably planning to sneak up on her, but Jennifer was so in tune to the older agent that it had become very hard for her to catch the liaison off balance. She had felt those eyes on her back, watching her every move.

"How much?" she repeated, facing her partner and holding out a hand, smiling affectionately when the faintly pouting profiler took it and let herself be drawn into an embrace.

"How did you-"

"I can feel when you watch me," she replied to the unfinished question, "And I love that feeling, so don't start apologizing."

Emily blushed, her dark eyes shy.

"I didn't know."

"Of course you didn't, Emily," JJ affirmed, still smiling, "I never told you. I would feel you watching me at work, and even more when we were out, and I never stopped to ask myself why it never bothered me. Now I know I was hoping one day you'd stop watching and-"

The thought was cut off when a pair of lips claimed hers with possessive tenderness, and she fell into their owner's grasp without thinking. The taller woman held her tightly, but with a gentleness that startled her a little. It was almost as if her partner was afraid she would break if she held on to tightly. That or bolt. She wasn't about to do either, however, even considering the creeping little voice in the back of her mind telling her to run. It was always there lately, but she was getting better at ignoring it.

"-do that," the liaison finished, gasping, when the kiss ended, blushing visibly as she added, "I love when you do that."

Emily smiled her sweet, shy smile, her expression a little fearful under her pleasure at the compliment. JJ eyed her worriedly, suddenly remembering that her initial question had never been answered. Close as they were, she couldn't help noticing the shadows around Emily's brown-black eyes and the pallor of her already somewhat pale face. Jennifer brushed the other agent's face with the back of one hand, feeling, as she expected, heat that was just a little too intense for health.

"You've got a fever, Em," she observed unhappily, "We need to get some food into you and you need to get some sleep. You can't have slept more than a few hours in the last few days."

Unexpectedly the profiler nodded, resting her head on the smaller agent's shoulder with a sigh.

"If that," Emily confirmed wearily, surprising the blonde again "I just can't sleep lately, Jennifer. Ever since we agreed..."

Blue eyes widened as the brunette trailed off, looking awkward and shy. The missing words, since we agreed not to sleep together, tore at her heart. She had thought them herself just that day. She hadn't been able to sleep lately either. The lack of Emily's solid warmth next to her had thrown her subconscious and unconscious for a loop. She struggled to fall asleep, and once sleeping her dreams where miserable and dark.

"Sweetie, why didn't you say anything?" she groaned, tightening her grip on the slender woman, "You should have told me."

"I... I didn't think of it until today," Emily replied miserably, her face pressing into the liaison's hair, "It didn't occur to me until I after I got sick today and couldn't figure out why it hit me so hard."

Jennifer sighed, pressing a kiss to the profiler's pale cheek before gently sitting her down at the table, going back to her cooking. Fortunately nothing had been scorched or ruined while she had been distracted, though she knew it wouldn't taste as good as it could have. She felt bad about that, as she had really hoped to serve Emily something particularly good tonight, but the other agent seemed not to notice. She ate slowly but with clear appreciation of the meal, and JJ found herself watching her partner curiously, silently tracking what Emily had eaten in the last few days. It hadn't been a lot, she realized. The older woman had eaten when they were together, but as far as she knew Em hadn't had lunch that day and she didn't think the brunette had eaten more than half her meals yesterday. She had been tired, the blonde remembered, and she hadn't had much of an appetite. As she considered, though, Jennifer knew why she hadn't noticed sooner. She'd been feeling the same sluggish lethargy she was seeing in the woman across from her. The fog had lifted when she saw Emily in distress, though, and she started planning ways to make things up to her companion. The first step of that plan she had already set into motion, and once the larger portion of the meal was done she brought out the promised 'special dessert', in response to which Emily muttered her one word prayer. She rarely made desserts, but she was very good at one thing in particular: Molten Chocolate Cake. She had made it in the form of cupcakes this time for ease of consumption, and Emily inhaled one, then followed it up with a second. This time she took it very slow, savoring each bite and looking at her with such wanton appreciation that Jennifer was hard pressed to keep from acting on the promises in that look. The only thing that really worked was remembering the sick, exhausted Emily she had seen earlier, and with that image on her mind she finished her dessert. Once the brunette was done eating they cleaned up together, JJ deciding the benefit of their closeness, regretfully platonic though it was, outweighed any benefit of trying to talk the stubborn profiler into going to bed right away. Once they had finished, Emily started to head for her room, but the liaison caught her arm.

"Jennifer?" the profile asked, clearly startled. Jennifer smiled gently, sliding her hand down the strong arm she held, tangling it with Emily's. She knew her friend well enough to know Em might have taken her refusal to act earlier as some sort of lack of interest, but that was far from the truth. She got a pleasant thrill out of the tremor that went through the brunette's body in response to the caress, cementing her sense of rightness in what she was doing.

"Stay with me tonight, Em."


"Stay with me," she repeated, giving no room for argument. She led Emily into her room by the hand, pulling out a set of pajamas for her partner and slipping into the bathroom to change herself, her eyes giving a warning for the other woman not to go anywhere. When she returned the profiler was sitting in bed, clearly nervous, but when she saw Jennifer she smiled, her body relaxing noticeably.

"We should get some sleep, sweetheart," she murmured, and JJ smiled back, sliding under the covers. Emily hesitated long enough that she found herself grinning. She pulled on the taller agent's arm until she gave in, laying down and wrapping said arm around Jennifer's waist.

"See, it's not so bad. We can do this," the blonde whispered reassuringly. Emily mumbled in wordless agreement, pressing a kiss to her neck that nearly undid her resolve and restraint. Determined to get through the night without crossing the boundaries they'd set for themselves, JJ forced her body to relax, and much sooner than she had expected she was falling asleep. The last thing she was aware of was the sound of Emily's voice in her ear.

"Sonno bene, mia bella amore."

Date and Time: November 23, 2007 23:39

Location: Club Near FBI Academy, Quantico, Virginia

"Come on! We should be dancing!" Garcia exclaimed, half-exasperated at the worried, doubting looks her friends and colleagues were directing at her, "I'm not going to break in half, you know!"

Emily glanced at JJ, immediately noticing the weighted cast to her features and the heaviness of her shoulders, and decided that despite her misgivings about the shape Garcia was in, she needed to get her blonde friend out of her head, and the best way she knew to do that was by getting them out on the floor.

"She's right, you know," the profiler declared, managing to put a genuine-looking grin on her face by way of sheer determination, "We came here to have a party. So, let's party!"

Penelope was obviously startled by her change in attitude, but the tech goddess wasn't about to pass up the opportunity the profiler had just handed her.

"Up with you, Derek! Jayj, up, up, up! Don't make me drag you out there!"

It was obvious to both women their fair colleague was about to refuse, but Emily wasn't giving in so easily. She reached out as instinctively as she had that night in the hospital, inwardly amazed that it had been such a short time since that awful night in the hospital when all she could do to comfort her terrified, exhausted best friend was sit with her and hold her hand. JJ turned to her as she hadn't that night, closing her hand around the brunette's. Blue eyes traveled from her face to their joined hands and back, and slowly they softened.

"Yeah," the liaison agreed finally, her lips finally shaping into a smile, "let's dance."

This time Emily knew her own answering smile to be real, and for a moment she forgot everyone but the woman holding her hand. Garcia's giggles as Derek escorted her out of the booth drew her back to the present, but it also gave her an idea.

"Go on, I'll be right there," she assured her friend, squeezing her hand before lightly pushing her out of the booth. Somehow Hotch must have picked up on something. He offered his arm to the blonde, giving Emily a quick, approving glance. Once she was sure her colleagues were out of sight, she slid around the floor to the DJ's booth, her inner voice, which often sounded like her mother, berating her for what she was about to do. JJ, dancing with Hotch, Garcia, and Morgan, heard the music changed and threw an idle glance toward the small, raised platform designed for the brave souls who got up the nerve to sing, then did a double-take as her dark friend appeared there, mic in hand. To anyone who didn't know her, Emily Prentiss must have looked confident and self assured, but JJ knew her better. The poor woman was as nervous as the liaison had ever seen her, but there she was, stunning in her simple dark blue overshirt, deep red tanktop, and black jeans, and looking straight into the blonde's eyes as she started to sing.

Time, is going by, so much faster than I,
And I'm starting to regret not spending all of it with you.
Now I'm, wondering why, I've kept this bottled inside,
So I'm starting to regret not telling all of it to you.
So if I haven't yet, I've gotta let you know...

You're never gonna be alone!
From this moment on,
If you ever feel like letting go,
I won't you fall...
Never gonna be alone!
I'll hold you 'til the hurt is gone.

And now, as long as I can,
I'm holding on with both hands,
'Coz forever I believe that there's nothing I could need but you,
So if I haven't yet,
I've gotta let you know...

As Emily started in on the chorus, her dark eyes still fixed on JJ, the blonde found she had a new level of appreciation for the brilliant profiler's many talents. Emily wasn't the best singer she'd ever heard, but her voice was clearly trained, and any flaws in her singing were readily excused. The quick glance JJ sent around the room told her that anyone who was paying any attention at all had turned to appreciate the gorgeous woman on stage with her powerful voice and intense focus. What they failed to notice, the blonde saw, was that all that intense focus was directly on the small group of federal agents as she got to the second half of the chorus.

When all hope is gone
I know that you can carry on
We're gonna take the world on
I'll hold you 'til the hurt is gone

You've gotta live every single day,
Like it's the only one,
What if tomorrow never comes?
Don't let it slip away,
Could be our only one,
You know it's only just begun.
Every single day,
Maybe our only one,
What if tomorrow never comes?
Tomorrow never comes...

Time, is going by, so much faster than I,
And I'm starting to regret not telling all of this to you.

"She's got a voice on her," Garcia muttered almost giddily in her ear as the chorus started again. JJ nodded somewhat absently, dancing more out of habit than intent. She hadn't seen this side of Emily until that night in the hospital. She had known Prentiss had depth and heart, but until that night she had never expected to find herself needing the other woman so badly. Tonight, as she watched Emily singing to her, she found herself coming out of the fog she'd fallen into after killing Battle. For the first time since then her heart felt whole, and she smiled up at the older woman, getting a brilliant smile in return.

I'm gonna be there all the way,
I won't be missing one more day,
I'm gonna be there all the way,
I won't be missing one more day.

Emily bowed a little awkwardly as the club's patrons cheered and applauded, JJ loudest among them. When the brunette made her way to the BAU team's little piece of dance floor, Hotch was smiling, Morgan was grinning broadly, and Garcia almost tackled the dark agent in her enthusiasm. JJ stood back, watching and waiting. When her friend turned to her, she simply smiled affectionately. The brunette blushed darkly, turning away even as her hand caressed the younger woman's bare arm. Jennifer trembled silently praising and cursing the impulse that had driven her to wearing the particular sleeveless black top she had on. She was tired, physically and emotionally drained, and that was making her respond strangely to the familiar gesture. No one had touched her since that night, since Garcia's hug and Emily rubbing her back. The profiler didn't let go, either. The gentle caress turned had turned into an equally gentle hold at some point, and she found herself dancing with the dark agent without knowing when she started moving along with the music. She fell into the rhythm with surprising ease considering how dark her mood had been coming here.

"Never Gonna be Alone," Emily whispered as they moved to the moderately fast music that was blaring from all sides. When JJ looked askance at her dance partner, she smiled and tilted her head toward the stage. The gesture was enough of an explanation, and she nodded her understanding, leaning into the tall, dark agent and hugging her tightly in silent thanks. Emily hugged her back, and they danced, part of the circle of their teammates but still a part of their own world. One time Hotch broke in to dance with Emily, then JJ as Morgan took hold of the dark woman for a fast song, but inevitably the two were drawn back together, JJ seeking the comfort provided by the strong, soft hands and brown-black eyes the way a person lost in a blizzard would seek heat. Emily was her anchor, and when they left the club hour later it came as no surprise when the brunette took her hand and drove her home, sitting with her on the couch while they sipped tea together in silence. Finally JJ sighed, looking up at her patient companion and smiling, her hand brushing the other woman's.

"Thank you so much, Emily... for everything, really, but especially for tonight. That song..."

She trailed off, finding no words to describe the incredible specialness she had felt when the woman had gotten on that stage in front of the crowd and their colleagues to sing that song for her.

"It's true, you know."

Brown-black eyes had turned to liquid darkness in the dim light, and not for the first time she had the random thought that if Emily were a man, she'd be just the type JJ would want to marry. But it would be so wrong for the beautiful agent to be a man.

"What?" she asked curiously, and the profiler smiled, turning her hand to clasp the blonde's.

"You're never gonna be alone!
From this moment on,
If you ever feel like letting go,
I won't you fall..."

The soft, unsure voice seemed to fill her living room as it had filled the club, but the liaison knew that was just her perception. Emily looked so shy, but at the same time there was a calm about her, as if she knew, as JJ was starting to, that their friendship had been polished and perfected that night in the hospital, and tonight was just a natural extension of that. Her hands, which hadn't felt right since then, since they had shot a man, were a part of her again, and Emily was holding both of them, catching her again.

"I know, Emily. Me too," she promised quietly, resting her head on the slim but strong shoulder next to her and closing her eyes. Penelope had been saved, Battle had been killed, and sweet, patient Emily had caught her before she could fall. Her family was safe. She could wake up from that nightmare now, and actually get some sleep. They both could, she realized. After all... She had caught Emily too, without even knowing it.

Part 11

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