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Take My Hand and Show Me the Way
Part One

By mel



"You okay?" Emily murmured, her voice giving away her obvious concern, as she watched the door close behind Hotch and the team.

JJ took a deep breath, preparing herself to be alone with Emily once more, and nodded slowly. "Yeah."

Emily, propped up against her pillow and the head of the elevated bed, watched the way JJ's palms pressed into the mattress, and could tell from the movement that JJ was planning on getting up and moving away from her. "Please don't get down."

JJ closed her eyes and drew another deep, fortifying breath. She wanted to stay there. Hell, she wanted to lie down beside Emily, bury her face in the crook of the older woman's neck, and hold her close; but she knew that such an action would not be appropriate given their current situation. She knew, that were Emily in full possession of her faculties, that the brunette would never make such a request. "Emily." The brunette's name fell from her lips on a sigh, and she cringed at the want and the disappointment she could hear in her voice.

Emily heard it too. So, ignoring the throbbing in her head, she sat up and reached out to gently turn JJ's face so that the blonde was actually looking at her. She felt her heart seize in her chest at the pain she saw etched onto the younger woman's face, and she winced at the uncertainty she saw clouding her normally clear blue eyes. "What's wrong, baby?" she asked as she slipped her hand from under JJ's chin to cradle the blonde's face in her palm. "Hey, talk to me," she urged gently as she ran her thumb over JJ's cheekbone soothingly.

JJ closed her eyes as she reflexively relaxed into Emily's touch. She had longed to feel that touch for so long, that she was absolutely helpless to stop herself for responding to it – even though she could not allow herself to give in to it. "Emily, we can't," she sighed.

"Why?" Emily asked softly, as she tightened her hold on JJ's jaw as she leaned in closer, needing to feel the blonde's lips against her own. She did not know where this hesitancy within her wife had come from, but she was certain that a kiss would go a long way toward easing whatever fears were bothering her. "Jennifer," she murmured as she pulled the blonde closer.

JJ sighed and she licked her lips as her gaze flicked down to Emily's mouth. The brunette's lips were parted ever so slightly, and looked absolutely delicious. A warm, familiar heat spread low in her belly as she watched Emily's tongue slide out to wet her lips, and she whimpered as she felt Emily's tender grasp on her jaw tighten ever so slightly, drawing her in closer. The small, incessant voice of reason inside her head grew quieter and quieter until, against her better judgment, she succumbed to her need to taste Emily's lips, her eyes fluttering shut as she gave herself over to her desire.

Emily moaned softly as she watched JJ's eyes flutter closed and let her own do the same as she moved to close that final distance separating them. Anticipation built to a crescendo of racing heartbeats as breaths mingled between parted lips, and just when that final, finite yet seemingly insurmountable distance was to be closed, there was a brusque knock on the door.

"Sorry," Doctor Harrison called out, clearly amused by the scene she walked in on.

Emily felt JJ tense and instead of claiming the blonde's lips, as was her original intent, she instead slipped her hand around JJ's neck to hold her close as she rested the uninjured side of her forehead against the younger woman's. "It's okay," she murmured, her voice soft and warm and soothing. "Jen," she sighed as she felt JJ shake her head and slip away from her.

"Doctor," JJ murmured as she turned to face the doctor, who at least had the grace to look a little embarrassed about walking in when she had.

"I was just popping in to see how Emily was doing. I'm off shift now and won't be back until the morning," she said as she walked further into the room, hoping that a calm façade and a professional air would ease the tension that was filling the room. She glanced at JJ who was now staring at the floor and felt like a complete ass for interrupting the women.

JJ rolled her eyes, silently chastising herself for her moment of weakness, before she slipped her communications liaison mask on and looked at the doctor. "Our team is planning on flying home in the morning. Do you still think Emily will be cleared for release by then?"

Doctor Harrison nodded slowly as she pulled a penlight from her pocket and began flashing it at Emily's eye. "Provided her condition doesn't worsen overnight, that shouldn't be a problem. How are we doing with the other thing?" she asked gently, her vague phrasing acknowledging that her realization that she had walked in on a rather intimate moment and that, while she hated to draw attention to Emily's false memories, she needed to know where the brunette stood medically.

"Still the same," JJ answered softly.

Doctor Harrison nodded and slipped her light back into her pocket. "I see. Well, I start rounds at six, so if you want I can make you my first stop and we should have you out of here by seven thirty at the latest."

Emily nodded. "Sounds good, doc, thanks."

"My pleasure." Doctor Harrison smiled. "Well, then. I shall get going and let you two get back to what you were doing. I'll see you bright and early tomorrow."

"Thank you," JJ murmured as she forced herself to hold the doctor's gaze.

"Sorry," Doctor Harrison mouthed to the obviously upset blonde, before she turned to Emily. "I want you to rest up tonight Agent Prentiss. Every hour," she instructed firmly, glancing at JJ to make sure that the blonde was going to be able to see that it happened.

"I know," JJ assured her.

"Hey, doc," Emily called out just as the doctor had reached the door. "May I change into regular pajamas?"

Doctor Harrison nodded. "No reason why you shouldn't. If you need help, just buzz and a nurse will come down and help you with it."

"Thank you." Emily smiled and, moments later, the door closed behind the redhead and they were left alone with each other once again. She watched as JJ refused to meet her gaze by turning toward their bags that Hotch had brought earlier, and she was more confused than ever as to the reason behind the blonde's unusual behavior. "What's wrong Jen?" she asked as she watched JJ who was now digging through their bags in search of more comfortable clothes.

"Nothing," JJ answered softly. Everything. I want you so badly and I know this isn't really you treating me this way, talking to me like this, looking at me as if I am the center of your world. "Here are your sleep pants and tee-shirt." She pulled the garments out of Emily's bag and turned to find the brunette watching her carefully.

Tired of being avoided, Emily slowly maneuvered herself out of the hospital bed. "I'm fine," she assured the blonde, who looked about ready to protest the action. She paused for a moment beside the bed, keeping three fingers pressed to the thin, scratchy blanket until she regained her balance, before she slowly crossed the room to where JJ was standing.

JJ held her breath as she watched Emily shuffle toward her. She knew she should leave, call Morgan and switch places with him; but, for the life of her, she could not move. She watched Emily advance slowly and when the brunette's strong, capable hands slipped around her waist she was helpless to stop the low moan that tumbled from her lips. "Em."

Emily's good eye fluttered closed for a moment at the sound of her name falling from the blonde's lips and she reflexively tightened her hold on Jennifer's hips as she stepped in closer still so that they were pressed lightly together. She tilted her head slightly as she looked at the woman in her arms, watching, appraising, and, yes, profiling the reactions her proximity generated. "Talk to me," she murmured imploringly. "Let me in. What are you thinking?"

JJ felt tears build in her eyes and she hid them by wrapping her arms around Emily's neck and pulling the brunette in for a fierce embrace. She buried her face in the crook of the older woman's shoulder and just held on tight, hoping that this connection would satisfy the both of them while knowing that it would do anything but.

Emily's breath hitched in her chest as she felt JJ's deceptively strong arms pull her in closer and she automatically slid her hands from the blonde's waist to around her back to hold her close. "Shh," she soothed as she rubbed her hand up and down JJ's back softly. "It's okay. Whatever it is, it's okay. I'm sorry I pushed, baby," she murmured as she began to shift her weight from side to side in a gentle rocking motion designed to calm.

JJ turned her head so her cheek was resting on Emily's shoulder. "I'm sorry."

"It's okay," Emily murmured as she flexed her arms and pulled JJ in even closer.

"I'm just scared," JJ offered hesitantly.

"Of my head injury?" Emily asked softly.

JJ shrugged, unable and unwilling to explain everything that was terrifying her at the moment. "Mmm."

"I'm fine Jen," Emily murmured.

No, you're not. "I still worry."

Emily drew a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Would you feel better if I got back into the bed?"

Not trusting herself to speak, JJ just nodded.

"Okay then," Emily agreed easily, pressing her lips to the crown of JJ's head. Anything to make the blonde happy. "Can you grab me a sports bra out of the bag? I don't like swinging free when the boys are around."

JJ nodded again, pausing for a moment to savor the warmth of Emily's body pressed up against her own for a few heartbeats longer before she pulled away and turned back to the bag. She crouched down to look through the clothes and easily found the bra Emily was wanting. "Here it is," she murmured as she pulled the bra from the bag. She stood and turned around to hand it to the brunette, and was helpless to stop the gasp that escaped her as her eyes landed on Emily standing expectantly before her wearing nothing but a pair of utilitarian sky-blue cotton bikini briefs. Fuck me, she's more beautiful than I'd imagined, she thought to herself as her eyes roamed over flawless pale skin and full, heavy breasts tipped with rich, mocha colored nipples.

"Here," Emily said as she held her hand out for the bra. She smiled as she watched JJ's bright blue eyes rake over her nearly naked form. "Jen," she chuckled as she moved in closer to take the bra from the blonde. "Why are you acting like you've never seen me in my underwear before?"

Because I haven't, JJ though as she tried not to drool as she watched Emily carefully slip the cotton bra over her head before slipping her arms into it as well. She licked her lips appreciatively as she watched Emily reach down through the top to adjust herself for comfort, unable to tear her gaze away from the woman in front of her.

Emily looked up once everything was where she wanted it and smiled at the lust she saw darkening JJ's eyes. "Shirt?"

"Hmm," JJ hummed as she held out the ratty heather gray tee.

Emily slipped it on easily and then looked up at JJ who was still standing right beside the bags. "I think I'm going to need some help with the pants, Jen," she murmured, highly aware of the fact that, for some reason, the blonde did not want to get close to her.

JJ nodded jerkily. "Right. Put your hands on my shoulders and I'll help you into them," she instructed as she sank to her knees before the brunette.

Emily did as requested and smiled at the feeling of JJ's fingers tracing lightly up her legs as the blonde eased the pants up to her waist. "Thank you," she whispered, daring to lean in and brush her lips against Jennifer's forehead as the blonde pushed up to her full height before her.

"No problem," JJ whispered. "Now, let's get you back into bed."

Emily nodded and allowed herself to be led back across the room to the hospital bed. She eased herself back onto the mattress and smiled reassuringly at JJ as she scooted far enough onto the bed that she was able to lay back against the inclined section of the mattress. "Better?"

JJ nodded. "Much," she confirmed as she pulled the blankets back up over Emily's lap. "You comfortable?"

I'd be more comfortable if you'd climb up here with me and let me hold you, Emily thought to herself, but somehow instinctively knew that such a request would be denied so she just nodded. "Yeah. Thanks Jen," she said through a yawn.

"Close your eyes and rest, Em," JJ murmured as she reached up to smooth the brunette's hair away from her forehead. She felt her heart clench when Emily reached up and took that hand, and held it to her cheek.

"I love you Jennifer," Emily confessed sleepily. "You know that, right?"

JJ bit her lip and nodded. "I do," she answered softly as she gently pulled her hand away from Emily's cheek. "Rest up Prentiss, big day tomorrow."

Emily smiled. "Yes ma'am."

JJ stayed beside Emily's bed for a few minutes as the brunette slipped into a deep sleep before she carefully pulled the side-rail back up and crossed the room to her bag from which she selected a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt. With one last glance at Emily she walked into the small private bath and closed the door after herself to change.

She flipped the bright florescent light on and looked at herself in the tiny mirror above the sink. "What are you doing Jareau?" she asked herself softly. "What in the world are you doing?"

JJ jumped out of her chair as the alarm on her phone buzzed, pulling her from the murky depths of sleep to check on Emily. It was a little after five in the morning, and the brunette had slept well through the night – waking fairly easily every hour and falling back asleep with little to no trouble every time.

She pushed herself to her feet with a groan and ran a soft hand over the sleeping brunette's brow. She smiled as Emily smiled in her sleep and turned into the touch, and her heart broke just a little bit more at the sleepy, "Mmm, love you Jen," that spilled from the brunette's lips as her touch traveled over a defined, regal cheek.

"Emily, hon, time to wake up again," she murmured.

Emily stirred in her sleep, a slow, easy smile lifting the corners of her lips as she came awake. "Jennifer," she whispered.

JJ smiled. "Hey," she breathed. "Just had to check on you, you can go back to sleep now."

Emily shook her head and reached out with a surprisingly quick hand, tangling her fingers into the soft hairs at the nape of JJ's neck. "I wanna kiss my wife first," she muttered as she pulled the blonde down to her level and claimed the blonde's lips with her own.

JJ gasped in surprise at the feeling of Emily's soft lips moving demandingly against her own, and her gasp turned into a low growl of pleasure as the brunette took advantage and thrust a hungry, seeking tongue inside her mouth. Exhaustion combined with the heavenly feeling of Emily's lips upon hers and the intoxicating taste of the brunette's tongue had her responding to the kiss rather than pulling away. She reached out and tangled her hands in Emily's hair, pulling the brunette closer as she tilted her head to the side, opening her mouth wider. Tongues danced and dueled with each other in a barely restrained hunger, and she moaned as Emily's hands began to wander up and down her sides, eventually slipping under her shirt to palm her breasts possessively.

She was lost to the feeling of Emily's hands upon her skin and the taste of the brunette upon her tongue, and she was only brought back to realty by the electric pulse that shot through her when Emily's thumbs brushed over her nipples.

"God," she pulled away with a gasp.

Emily smiled, looking every bit like the cat that caught the canary, as she leaned back against her pillow. "I love you Jennifer," she murmured, her voice soft and distant as she easily slipped back into the realm of dreams.

JJ, however, was not as lucky. Her mind and body were both wide awake, tingling with electricity from the brief, stolen kiss.

"My god, Jareau," she groaned as she dropped back into her chair as she looked at Emily sleeping so peacefully. She knew, just from that one kiss, that one stolen moment of having Emily's hands upon her body, that she was ruined for all others. Nobody had ever made her feel so much, and she knew – somehow fucking knew, that nobody ever would. She leaned forward to rest her head on the thin, hospital mattress and shook her head sadly. "You are well and truly fucked, JJ. Should have stopped her," she chastised herself. "But damn, that girl can kiss."



Doctor Harrison entered room 324 at precisely one minute after six to find both occupants sound asleep. She smiled at the sight of the blonde passed out with her head resting atop her arms that were folded on the bed beside Emily's hip. She knew it had been a long night for the young Agent making sure that she woke her patient every hour and she was loathe to disturb her if she didn't have to, so she quietly rounded the bed to check on her patient.

"Good morning," she whispered as she placed a soft hand on the brunette's shoulder.

"Jayj?" Emily mumbled sleepily.

"It's Doctor Harrison, Emily," she corrected as she patiently waited for the brunette to come around. When one sleep-filled brown eye opened to focus on her, she smiled reassuringly. "How are you feeling?"

"Okay," Emily rasped.

"Good. The nurses informed me that Agent Jareau took good care of you last night," she observed, knowing that the brunette's response to the statement would indicate whether or not her confabulation had eased.

Emily nodded. "JJ…" her voice trailed off as the events of the last day flashed through her mind. "Oh. My. God," she murmured as she remembered repeatedly telling JJ that she loved her.

"I take it from the look of abject horror on your face that your memory has returned," Doctor Harrison drawled as she scribbled a few notes onto Emily's discharge paperwork.

"Oh fuck," Emily groaned softly.

"It wasn't that bad," the doctor reassured her. "Really."

"I kissed her." Like, really kissed her.

"Is that a bad thing?" Doctor Harrison couldn't help but ask as she made a few more notes on Emily's chart.

Emily's eyes widened as another memory of the previous day hit her. I felt her up. I… "Oh no. Did I say something about kids and us being married?"

"Actually-" Doctor Harrison clicked her pen shut and slipped it back into her pocket "-that was how we first realized that your head injury was more serious than we'd originally thought."

"You have got to be kidding me," Emily groaned as she ran a hand through her hair.

"Agent Jareau knew what was happening," she reassured her patient. "Knew that you were suffering through a bit of amnesia. I honestly don't think you have anything to be concerned about."

Yeah, right. "But I do love her," Emily whispered, almost to herself.

Doctor Harrison nodded thoughtfully. She was ninety-nine percent sure that the blonde returned those affections but knew it was not her place to share, so she instead changed the subject back to the matters at hand. She was a neurosurgeon, not a couple's counselor, after all. "Okay. Well, you still have a serious grade three concussion that you need to keep on top of. I want you to check in with your regular doctor in a few days, and I'm restricting your activities, work included, until you are completely recovered."

"How long will that be?"

"Your concussion symptoms will hopefully disappear in the next few days though you might still get dizzy after exerting yourself for a few more weeks. Your fractures should be healed within a month."

"I'm out for a month?"

Knowing how much law enforcement personnel hated being kept from the field, Doctor Harrison nodded and quickly added, "But as soon as your concussion symptoms ease you'll be released for desk duty. So, as long as there are no lingering symptoms, you could hypothetically be back within a week."

Emily sighed and closed her eyes. And the morning just keeps getting better, she thought dourly.

"Wha…" JJ's soft, sleep filled voice broke the silence that had descended upon the room. "Oh," she mumbled as she spotted the redheaded attending standing on the opposite side of the bed from her. "Doctor Harrison, is it six already?" she asked as she sat up and ran a sleepy hand through her hair, smoothing it away from her face.

"About a quarter after, actually. Did you get any sleep last night?"

"A little," JJ said as she looked up at Emily. "How you feeling Em?"

Emily pursed her lips and turned her face toward the window, away from JJ. "Fine," she responded curtly.

JJ frowned and looked up at Emily's doctor who was watching Emily carefully.

"Confabulation is gone," Doctor Harrison explained softly.

"Oh," JJ drawled as she immediately looked back toward Emily and felt her heart seize in her chest as she saw that the brunette was staring blankly out the window, effectively keeping her and the rest of the world at bay. "I see," she murmured.

Doctor Harrison looked from her patient to JJ, who was wearing a look of absolute heartbreak, and frowned. "Well, there's nothing else for me to do here. I will let the nurses know that you are free to go. Thanks again for your help up here Agent Jareau. Agent Prentiss, good luck with your recovery."

"Thank you, doctor," Emily said in a clipped, professionally detached voice.

"Good luck," Doctor Harrison replied, looking JJ straight in the eye as she offered the soft words of encouragement before she quickly exited the room to inform the nurses that her patient was being released.

JJ watched the door click ominously shut behind the retreating doctor, the quiet, barely perceptible snick of metal catching shooting through her heart like a shotgun blast. Now it was time to face the music. Time to admit to Emily why she had chosen to stay with her, even with the false memories the brunette had been projecting onto their reality.

"Emily, I…" she started and stopped, her voice no louder than a breath as uncertainty and fear tore through her. She wanted Emily, had wanted her for so long, and this, this messed up confrontation in a generic hospital room was where her life would be decided.

"You should call Hotch and let him know that I am being released," Emily murmured as she pushed herself up off her pillows. She needed to at least get into a pair of jeans for the flight home. How she was going to do that was another matter altogether, but she knew she needed to get moving. Knew she needed to get out of this hospital room and away from JJ until she could rebuild her walls to protect her heart.

JJ watched Emily climb slowly out of bed and felt the strangest sense of déjà vu. "Em," she protested the brunette's movement softly. "Do you need help?"

"No, thank you, JJ," Emily murmured, completely unaware of how her use of JJ's nickname, rather than her given name, brought tears to the younger woman's eyes. "I can do it. Why don't you call Hotch and the guys so we can get out of here. I just want to go home."

JJ sucked her lower lip between her teeth and remained frozen beside the bed as she watched Emily shuffle toward their bags. She wanted to run across the room, gather the older woman in her arms, and confess her secret longing for the brunette. But she could feel Emily's walls pushing at her, keeping her away almost as if they were a tangible barrier to the older woman's heart that had, only hours before, been hers to hold and cherish.

And now… now Emily wouldn't even meet her eyes, couldn't even stand to look at her. It was almost as if everything she wanted to have with Emily was destroyed before it could even be brought to life.

She watched Emily stop in front of the bags and stare at them as if she were trying to make her clothes magically appear in her hands. "Do you want me to pull out some clothes for you?" she offered in a soft, hesitant voice.

Emily's head dropped to her chest at the pain she could hear in JJ's voice. She felt tears begin to build as she realized how much she was hurting the other woman by essentially refusing to acknowledge her, but she didn't know what else to do. She felt raw, open, exposed, and her first instinct was to protect herself and, ultimately, her heart. And that meant she needed to keep the world, and everyone in it, at arm's length.

She needed to keep herself separate, but she could let JJ in enough to allow her to help, to try and slowly rebuild the easy familiarity that they used to share.

She nodded, wavering slightly where she stood as the movement brought on a mild wave of vertigo. "Could you get me some clean clothes for the day? Jeans, a shirt, and maybe some clean socks and underwear?" she whispered.

"Of course," JJ murmured. She crossed to the bags in three quick strides and crouched down in front of them. She quickly found the requested items, and she felt her heart break a little more as she looked up from her crouched position beside their suitcases to see familiar walls erected in Emily's dark, emotionless eyes. "Here," she whispered as she held out the clothes.

Emily's breath caught in her throat at the pain and uncertainty she could see clouding JJ's normally clear blue eyes. "Thanks," she muttered as she took the offered clothes and turned carefully toward the bathroom. "I'm just going to go get changed. I'll be right back," she murmured without so much as a glance in JJ's direction as she made her way slowly toward the safety of the small en suite bathroom.

Emily stared out the window of the team's private jet as it taxied down the deserted, secluded runway of the small private airport in preparation for take-off. She knew JJ was sitting on the couch behind her, more than likely shooting wounded looks her way, but she could not gather up the courage to turn around and face the understandably sullen blonde. She was absolutely mortified by her behavior from the day before. Horrified that she had not only let apparently all her walls down around the blonde but also shared her dreams of marriage and children with her as well.

Her life was well and truly fucked up at the moment.

"Hey," Morgan drawled as he dropped into an empty seat opposite her. "How's it going, princess?"

She glared at him. "If you knew what was going on why the hell didn't you try and get her away from me?" she asked in a small, tired voice. He was her partner, he was supposed to have her back no matter what.

"She wouldn't leave," he argued quietly, glancing over Emily's shoulder to where he could see JJ reclined on one of the couches at the back of the plane talking on her phone.

Emily glowered at him menacingly. "You should have made her leave." That way I wouldn't have fucking stripped right in front of her. Or felt her up. 'Cause that was yet another fine moment that will be forever etched into my memory.

"Yeah right," he laughed. "Have you ever tried to make Jareau do something she didn't want to do? Not happening Prentiss and you know it. Besides, you'd already told her all about the kiddos and you two being married when I'd offered to stay with you, and she shot me down so fast my head was spinning. She wanted to stay with you Emily, that right there should tell you something."

Emily frowned. "Like what?"

"Like you're being an idiot ignoring her and sitting all by yourself pouting. You need to pull your head out of your ass and grow a pair, partner."


"Well, you do," he argued. "You need to nut up and talk to her. She obviously knows that you at least are attracted to her – and she didn't run away. Hell, she got next to no sleep making sure that you didn't slip into a coma and how do you thank her? You ignore her completely. I may be confused on the big ol' lesbian dating guide, but I know straight women don't like to be ignored after they've gone out of their way to help you out."

"I can't lose her Derek," Emily sighed. "She's my best friend. What if she doesn't feel the same way?"

He rolled his eyes dramatically. "That would be why you need to talk to her. Because if she does, you're shooting yourself in the foot here by ignoring her."

"Right, Pen," JJ murmured as she closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose, trying to ward off the headache that she could feel building. "Nothing. No 'good morning', no 'thank you for sitting with me all night', nothing. I was expecting her to retreat back behind her walls and everything, but this is ridiculous, even for her."

"Well now, gumdrop, we all knew this would happen. I personally think it's a good sign that she got on the plane with you guys and didn't just pull out that black AmEx we know she has and buy herself a plane ticket home on a commercial flight."

"Not helping Pen," JJ sighed.

"Just give her some time, peanut," Garcia offered gently. "Let her get over her embarrassment – because you know she has to be mortally embarrassed about it all – and maybe you'll be able to get her to talk to you once you are back home and away from the guys."

"What if she doesn't?"

Garcia sighed and felt her heart break a little at the obvious pain in her friend's voice. "Then we'll work together to come up with a plan B."

JJ smiled at her friend's loyalty. She could always count on Penelope to have her back, no matter how hare-brained or hopeless the endeavor. "And if that doesn't work?" she asked in a small, soft voice.

Garcia could hear the pain and longing in her friend's voice, and she felt her heart break a little for her. "I'll go buy a two by four."

JJ laughed in spite of herself. "That was bad, Pen. Real bad."

"But it got you to laugh," Penelope replied, her smile clearly evident in her tone.

"What if she doesn't really feel that way toward me?"

Back in her dark office Penelope pursed her lips thoughtfully as she thought through some of the looks that she had caught Emily giving JJ when the brunette thought no one had been looking. Those looks, those long, lingering looks, said just as much as words ever could. "I don't think that's the real issue here. Get some sleep my blue-eyed girl, you sound like you're exhausted. I'll be waiting for you guys when you get back to the ol' homestead."

Garcia was waiting for the team as they dragged themselves out of the elevator. She immediately noticed that the group was lacking the usual estrogen component and was instantly curious as to what had happened to her girls. She nodded hello to both Hotch and Rossi, smiled sweetly at Reid which got the expected blush of embarrassment from the quirky genius, and when she caught sight of Derek she gave him her best 'come hither' look before turning on her heel and heading back to her office.

She knew he would follow.

"Hey Baby Girl," Derek sighed as he closed the door to Garcia's office behind him. He leaned back against the door and appraised the pink haired hacker carefully, knowing from the look that she had shot him when they all walked in that she wanted information.

Not wasting any time on pleasantries, she got right to the point. "Where are JJ and Little Miss Grouchy Pants?"

"Probably halfway to DC by now. Hotch muttered something about not allowing a marriage spat tear the team apart before he told JJ to take Prentiss home and then to get some sleep. She's dead on her feet after waking up every hour on the hour last night with Emily."

"Is our dark and brooding profiler still dark and brooding?"

Morgan chuckled. "You know it, Baby Girl."

Penelope threw her hands up in the air in exasperation. "What is her problem?"

He studied Garcia carefully. While he had his suspicions and knew that Penelope had hers, they had never actually sat down and discussed their friends' preferences before. "Full disclosure?"

"Maximum secrecy… yeah, yeah, the usual," Garcia drawled, waving her left hand in a small, circular motion in front of herself. "Now, spill it, hot stuff."

Morgan ran a tired hand over his head and appraised the expectant looking woman in front of him. He knew that if she said she would keep this exchange secret that she would, the woman knew more secrets than the rest of them combined, but it still felt strange for him to be the one to effectively out his very private friend.

"What do you know of Emily's… um… preferences?"

Garcia smiled and leaned back in her chair, a large, rather pleased smile tipping her lips. "Well, let's see… I know she thought she and Jayj were married with kids, and I've seen those long, lingering, lustful looks she gives my blue-eyed girl when she thinks nobody is watching her – so I'm willing to bet that her preferences, as you called them, tend to lean toward blonde haired, blue-eyed, women."

Morgan smiled and nodded. "Should have known that you'd seen something," he muttered.

"They don't call me the Oracle of Quantico for nothing," Penelope quipped. "So, am I right? Does Emily have a thing for JJ?"

He nodded. "She doesn't just have 'a thing'-" he used his fingers to make little air-quotes around the phrase "-she flat out wants her. Has, for quite a while." I think she may even be in love with her, he thought to himself.

Pen grinned and gave a small, victorious fist pump. "And JJ wants Emily. So why is tall, dark, and Butchy McFabulous giving my blue-eyed girl the cold shoulder?"

Derek frowned, his brow furrowing thoughtfully as he considered Garcia's words. "Do you really think Prentiss is butch?"

"Focus!" Penelope snapped her fingers at him.

"Right, sorry," he apologized, completely startled by Garcia's antics. "She's embarrassed. Scared that JJ doesn't feel the same way. Hell, neither of us even knew if JJ was into women."

Garcia nodded. "And you call yourselves profilers. Have you not seen the equally longing looks that JJ's been giving our brown-eyed girl for the last, like… forever?"

JJ sighed as she pulled to a stop in front of Emily's building in downtown Washington DC. The ride up from Quantico had been silent, full of heavy silence and quick, furtive glances, and she was tired of it. Tired of being ignored. Tired of being shut out.

After only a scant few hours with Emily without all of her infamous walls and compartments she knew she was hooked, knew that she wanted more time with the complex brunette just like that – and for the life of her, she couldn't figure out how to get the other woman to open up to her. She had tried initiating conversation at a couple different points during the drive only to be shut down with quick, one-word answers or a noncommittal grunt. She finally gave up when Emily complained of the sun and the movement making her dizzy and said that she was going to close her eyes for a bit.

"Thanks for the ride," Emily muttered as she pushed herself up out of JJ's car. She wavered slightly as her balance was slow to catch up with her desire to run away and she closed her eyes in defeat when she heard JJ's door open. Knew it would be too much to hope she didn't see that.

JJ watched Emily tense as she slammed her door shut with perhaps a bit more force than necessary, but dammit – she was pissed. After everything that had happened between them in the hospital room she felt she had, at the very least, earned a little more than a 'thanks for the ride' for her efforts.

"This is bullshit," JJ muttered as she stalked around to the back of the car and pulled Emily's bag from the trunk. She dropped it to the pavement and yanked up the handle before she turned to Emily who was standing with one hand still on the roof of the car, the other up at her head shielding her eye from the bright, early afternoon sun. Her broken cheek was too swollen to allow her to wear her sunglasses and JJ was sure that the sunlight was playing havoc on the older woman's headache. "You ready?" she asked as she came to a stop beside the stubborn brunette.

"I can do it Jayj, you don't have to walk me to my door," Emily argued weakly.

"Uh huh, sure," JJ drawled sarcastically. "I'm not asking. I'm telling you that I am walking you up to your condo. Now, can you do it by yourself or do you want to hold onto my shoulder for support?"

"I can do it," Emily grunted as she stepped hesitantly away from the car. After a couple of shaky steps where she was sure she was going to fall over, she finally regained her equilibrium back and began moving with a bit more purpose.

JJ rolled her eyes and walked over to shut Emily's door, again not missing the way the brunette tensed at the loud noise. She beeped the car locked from her key ring and followed a few steps behind Emily, watching the older woman carefully for any sign that she wasn't going to be able to complete the trip on her own.

Emily pushed the elevator call button, swaying slightly as she took a small step backwards to wait, and could not help but let out a small sigh of relief when the elevator opened in front of her. She immediately went to the back wall to lean against the handrail that ran around the car at waist height, thankful for the small amount of support that it offered. She wrapped her fingers around the cool metal and offered JJ a small smile as the blonde entered the car as well. She flinched at the hurt, the anger, the frustration she could see swirling in JJ's eyes, and her heart broke with the knowledge she that she was the reason for all of it.

Well done, Prentiss, she silently chastised herself. Why don't you treat her like shit a just little bit more? Surely there's something else you can do to make her hate you.

JJ tried to force herself to smile back at Emily before she turned and punched the button for the brunette's floor, but she knew that she had failed miserably – she just wasn't in the mood to smile. She was too hurt, too upset, and altogether too pissed-off to offer a genuine, comforting smile. The ride up was silent, save for the quiet pings from the elevator as the car passed each floor, and when the doors whooshed open she stepped to the side, placed a protective arm over the door so that it wouldn't close on Emily, and indicated with a tilt of her head that the brunette was to exit first.

She followed Emily to her door and stood patiently by while the brunette fought to fit her electronic key in the lock. She knew any offer of assistance that she made would be instantly rebuffed, so she didn't push. She was, however, going to push once they were inside.

She was done being ignored.



Emily closed her eyes in relief when she finally managed to fit her key into the lock. She was exhausted from the flight, and her pain meds were beginning to wear off and her headache was returning with a vengeance. She glanced over her shoulder at JJ as she unlocked the door and groaned. After having spent the last eighteen months or so surreptitiously watching JJ she knew each and every one of the blonde's expressions and what they signified. She could read her like a book, and she knew from the way that JJ was looking at her now, with her jaw set and her eyes burning bright with determination, that her hopes to avoid discussing what had transpired in the hospital room for just a little bit longer were dashed.

I guess we're going to be doing this now, she thought, her heart dropping heavily into her stomach, as she turned back to the door and pushed it open slowly, hoping to draw out the moment before the inevitable confrontation with her heart's desire came to pass. She had known that JJ was hurting from her behavior since she got her memory back, knew that the blonde's hurt had grown and manifested into anger with every conversation starter she'd rebuffed in the car on the way over. She knew all of this, but what she did not know was what to do about it.

Morgan had told her to talk to JJ, to tell her how she felt, but that was easier said than done. Emotions had never been something that were discussed in the Prentiss household, feelings were always ignored in deference to keeping the status quo, to keeping their lives sailing smoothly along on an even keel of false happiness. She had learned early on that what you felt didn't matter, what mattered was putting on a happy face and continuing on through life as if you were without a care in the world. Emotions were messy, time consuming, and there had been no place for them in her life.

Because of this, she learned to compartmentalize. To put everything that threatened to make her weak into a little box so that it could be studied, analyzed, and eventually forgotten about. Pain, both emotional and physical, was easiest to box up and put away. Love… well, until she'd met JJ love had not really been an issue. But the more time she spent around the captivating blonde the more she came to notice, to admire, to covet – and it wasn't long before the box she had created to hold her feelings for JJ had grown in size, rather like the heart of the old Grinch in the children's holiday movie, until it was impossible to ignore, until it seemed to physically change her.

Until JJ, she had been able to put on her mask and play her part without compunction, but the more time she spent with her, the harder it became.

Because, as she tossed her keys onto the kitchen island and turned to face JJ directly for the first time since they left the hospital, she wanted nothing more than to gather the blonde in her arms and hold her tight. Emotions were messy, what she felt for JJ was confusing, but she wanted it all. The mess, the confusion, the hurt, the love, the pain, the joy, the warmth, the acceptance, the closeness, all of it. More than anything she had ever wanted in her life, she wanted JJ.

She just didn't know how to get her. And the thought, the very idea of opening the box that held everything she felt for the younger woman and putting it out there to potentially be refused, or mocked, was absolutely terrifying.

But JJ was worth the risk. She hoped.

"Thank you," she murmured, trying to inflect her voice with her absolute sincerity. It was a weak attempt to bridge the gap separating them, but she was hoping it was enough of a start that JJ would take her hand and show her the way.

JJ had followed Emily into her condo and had watched the brunette's posture shift from detached to pensive. She could tell by the way Emily's head dropped ever so slightly that she was thinking, probably chewing her lip as she tried to figure out what to say. But when Emily turned to face her, her brown eyes soft, open, and apologetic, she was blown away. She had been ready for a fight. She had been ready to yell, to plead, to cajole Emily to open up to her, to let her in; but from the way Emily was looking at her now she knew that what Emily really needed was a gentle push.

She could do that too.

"You're welcome," she answered warmly as she took a small step further into Emily's house.

Emily nodded, recognizing acceptance in JJ's eyes, hearing the warmth in the blonde's tone. "I'm sorry," she whispered, her heart thudding heavily in her chest as she took that first small step toward admitting how she felt for JJ.

JJ offered a small smile and a shrug as she crossed her arms over her chest. "Why?" she asked softly.

Emily frowned and leaned back against the island as she studied the woman in front of her. "Why am I sorry?"

"No." JJ shook her head and took another small step forward so that she was now an arm's length away from Emily. "Why did you shut me out so completely?"

Emily licked her lips, realizing that this answer, this moment was the one that would either grant her her greatest wish or rip her dreams to shreds. "I was scared," she whispered.

JJ's brow furrowed at the brunette's words. "Of me?"

"Yes." Emily nodded. Absolutely terrified of you and your reaction. "And I was embarrassed about the things I'd said, the things I'd done…" her voice trailed off as she looked down at the floor in embarrassment.

"Em." JJ smiled softly. "Really now, if I was at all uncomfortable don't you think I would have traded places with Morgan or Hotch?"

Emily shrugged. "It's just… I'm sorry," she murmured, still looking down at their feet, refusing to look up and see the rejection she was certain she'd find in the younger woman's eyes. "I don't know how to do this, Jennifer," she admitted.

JJ smiled as Emily slipped and used her full name, just like she had at the hospital. "Just say it," she whispered encouragingly as she closed that final distance separating them so she could gently lift Emily's chin so that the brunette was forced to look at her. "Tell me," she urged gently, letting her eyes fill with the affection she held for the brunette.

Emily looked into JJ's warm sky blue eyes and felt her breath knocked from her chest by the love she saw staring back at her. "I… I want…"

JJ tilted her head encouragingly. "Hmm?"

"You," Emily whispered, her shoulders slumping in defeat. She couldn't fight what she felt any longer, was not able to resist that look in JJ's eyes any longer. "I want you."

JJ was unable to contain the smile that broke free at the brunette's words. "Emily," she sighed as she slipped her hand from under the point of Emily's chin to cradle the uninjured side of her face tenderly. She let her eyes dance over the older woman's face, drinking in her beauty, her strength. She knew how hard it must have been for Emily to say those three simple words, and she felt her heart swell inside her chest with the knowledge that finally, finally she would be able to do something about her attraction, affection, and, if she was being honest with herself, the love she felt for her.

Emily's eyes fluttered closed at the feeling of JJ's hand upon her cheek and she reflexively turned her face into that touch, giving herself over to it as she waited for her absolution or condemnation. JJ's smile, her tone, were both accepting, but she was still afraid. Her heart began to race in her chest, her fight or flight response kicking in as she struggled to remain where she was and not run away. Her fear had her primed to run, to escape, to flee this potentially disastrous situation – but her hope had her rooted to the spot, shaking imperceptibly as she waited for JJ's response that she knew would either be her condemnation or her exoneration.

So she waited, her heart hammering in her chest, her pulse pounding in her ears as she savored feeling of JJ's hand upon her skin, committing the feeling to memory so that if this, this moment was all she would ever have, she would be able to remember it forever. She felt the warmth from JJ's touch spread through her and she was so focused on that soft touch upon her cheek that she at first did not notice the even softer brush of lips against her own.

"Look at me, Em," JJ whispered as she leaned in and brushed her lips across Emily's. The kiss was soft, chaste, simple, but the meaning behind it, the acceptance, the affection was unmistakable.

Emily whimpered softly and opened her good eye to stare into bottomless blue. "Jennifer," she whispered, the blonde's name spilling from her lips as a prayer. A soft, breathless request for the younger woman to accept her love and protect her heart.

"I want you too," JJ murmured, watching Emily carefully, making sure that the brunette understood the sincerity of her words. "I have, for so long now, Emily."

Emily felt her heart skip a beat as JJ's words soothed her soul, and she smiled softly as she reached out to place her hands lightly upon JJ's hips. Her uncertainty, her fear, faded as she read the truth in JJ's eyes, heard the honesty in her words. As her uncertainty disappeared a small measure of confidence took its place and she pulled the willing blonde closer until they were standing hip to hip with each other. "Wow," she murmured, completely awestruck by the day's turn of events.

JJ chuckled softly. "Em, believe me, we haven't gotten anywhere near 'wow' yet."

Emily wet her lips as her gaze flicked down to the smiling blonde's mouth and she felt that familiar pull low in her stomach as she watched JJ's tongue slip between the blonde's plump lips. "Jennifer," she husked.

JJ smiled shyly as she leaned in so their lips brushed lightly against each other once more. "I like it when you call me Jennifer," she whispered as she closed that final distance separating them and captured Emily's lower lip gently between her own.

The kiss started out slow and languid, just the soft grasping of lips as bodies moved closer together, adjusting, moving along with and counterpoint to the other until they found that perfect fit where every curve fit seamlessly together. Hands began to roam slowly, gliding over fabric in search of that first touch of flushed, heated skin. Low, throaty moans rumbled deep in heaving chests as seeking fingers finally found that skin they so desired and mouths opened to admit tentative, seeking tongues that danced, delved and stroked against each other.

"God, Jen," Emily gasped as her burning lungs demanded she stop kissing the blonde long enough to actually breathe.

JJ purred as she began laying a string of soft kisses over Emily's jaw to her ear. She smiled to herself as she caught the back of the brunette's lobe with her tongue and pulled it between her lips to suckle gently.

"Christ," Emily groaned as her knees buckled and threatened to give way. "Baby, stop."

JJ immediately stopped what she was doing and stepped back quickly, her expression clearly giving away that she was afraid she had done something wrong. "Em? I didn't hurt you, did I?"

Emily smiled reassuringly and held tight to JJ's hips, refusing to let the blonde escape her. "No, you didn't. I'm fine," she assured her. "I just need to sit down."

"You're sure?"

"You make my knees weak Jennifer," Emily murmured. "You make my heart flutter," she smiled and leaned in to kiss JJ chastely on the lips. "And the taste of your lips makes my head spin… which isn't a good thing right now," she finished with a playful smirk. "Will you come sit on the couch with me?"

JJ frowned. "Do you think you should maybe go lie down in bed?"

"No," Emily grunted as she pushed herself up off the island she had been leaning against. "I'm not ready to let you go just yet today Jennifer – and when I take you to bed, I want to do it properly. So, for now, the couch will have to suffice."

"Okay," JJ murmured as she reached out to take Emily's hand in her own. She smiled as the brunette automatically turned their hands so that their fingers could twine together and she could not help but notice once again that their hands, much like their bodies moments before, fit together perfectly.

"Come on, Jareau," Emily chuckled as she gave the younger woman's hand a gentle tug. "You don't want me falling over on you," she teased as she led the way into the living room and over to the cream colored couch that faced the windows overlooking the Washington Monument. She used the arm of the couch to help her lower herself to the cushions and, once she was comfortable, she tugged at JJ's hand and pulled the blonde down next to her.

JJ smiled as she sat down next to Emily, being careful not to jostle the brunette as she settled into the cushions. "Okay, this is a comfortable couch," she sighed as she leaned back. "View's not too bad either," she observed as she looked out the large windows onto the National Mall.

"It is absolutely breathtaking," Emily agreed softly as she ignored the window and let her eyes caress JJ's features.

JJ nodded in agreement and turned to find Emily unabashedly staring at her. She felt her cheeks flame as she realized that the view Emily had been referring to was markedly different from the one she was pointing out. "Em," she murmured as she let her own eyes dance over the brunette's face, drinking in the sight of Emily Prentiss looking at her so openly and intently. Emily was not one to let her walls down quickly or easily but, by god, when she did, it was absolutely mesmerizing.

Emily licked her lips and smiled as she reached out to slip a hand behind JJ's neck. She threaded her fingers through blonde silk and gently pulled JJ closer. "I want to kiss you," she husked softly before she pushed up enough to claim JJ's lips in a slow, deep, unmistakably serious kiss.

JJ whimpered and moved her body closer, welcoming the brunette's caresses and meeting them with her own. When her neck began to hurt from the angle it was twisted to, she shifted to straddle Emily's lap. Lips never breaking contact, she moved closer, tangling her hands in Emily's hair and deepening their kiss as she settled into place.

Emily groaned as she felt JJ move over her and when the blonde lowered herself onto her lap she reflexively reached out to grasp JJ's hips to pull her in closer. She reclined back into the couch, resting her head on the back pillows as she pulled JJ down on top of her, accepting the younger woman's weight, delighting in the feeling of JJ's body pressing into her own.

JJ felt every drop of moisture in her body head south to settle between her legs the moment Emily's strong, knowing hands slipped into to back pockets of her jeans and began grasping, kneading, and massaging her in time with their kisses. It was both too much and not enough at the same time, and yet she was helpless but to continue tasting Emily's sweet lips, to continue rocking with the hands on her ass.

Emily sighed as she felt JJ's hands leave her hair to begin traveling slowly over her body, grasping at her shoulders before sliding down over the plane of her chest to graze the sides of her breasts before slipping under them to cup her firmly. "Christ, Jennifer," she gasped as JJ's small, strong hands began kneading her gently.

"Mmm," JJ moaned as she continued to rock with Emily's hands. She reveled at the feeling of Emily in her hands as she worked the firm mounds slowly, rubbing, grasping, massaging, and when she brushed her thumbs over Emily's nipples she thought she could very well come right there at the guttural sound that rumbled deep in the brunette's throat.

Emily pulled her left hand from JJ's back pocket to reach up and pull the blonde's mouth back to her own. The moment JJ's lips met hers she deepened the kiss, hungrily thrusting her tongue deep inside the younger woman's mouth. One kiss became two, became a dozen and eventually she was left feeling very, very aroused and very, very dizzy.

"Whoa," she murmured as she pulled back and closed her eyes against the vertigo that was threatening to overwhelm her.

"Are you okay?" JJ murmured as she pulled back to really look at Emily. She smiled at the sight of Emily's kiss swollen lips and the flush of arousal that tinted her cheeks, but as she took in the sight of Emily's furrowed brow her smile faded and concern immediately banked the burning need she had, only moments before, been helpless to resist.

"Yeah," Emily muttered. "I'm fine. Just dizzy. I think I need to rest."

"God, Em. I'm so sorry. I just… I forgot," JJ apologized as she pulled further away.

"Believe me, Jennifer. I'm not complaining." Emily smiled, reaching up to run a gentle hand over the blonde's jaw. "Can I just hold you?"

"Of course," JJ smiled and slipped off the brunette's lap, suddenly painfully aware of exactly how aroused she had become. "Tell me if I hurt you?" she requested as she moved with Emily so that they were laying down on the couch, Emily on the edge holding her as she laid on her side between the brunette and the back cushions.

"You won't," Emily assured her through a stifled yawn.

Seeing the brunette yawn elicited a sympathetic of her own which had her laughing as she laid her head on the plane of Emily's chest. "Comfy," she said as she wrapped her arm around Emily's waist and snuggled in closer.

"Very," Emily agreed softy before turning to press a soft kiss to JJ's forehead. She stayed there, breathing in the smell of the blonde's shampoo, listening to JJ's breathing even out until she was certain that the younger woman was asleep, and it was only then that she allowed herself to fall asleep as well.



Emily awoke to the sweet smell of JJ's shampoo saturating the air in front of her nose and the warm, comforting weight of the younger woman draped over her body. She smiled to herself as she pulled the still slumbering blonde in closer, reveling in the feeling of Jennifer wrapped in her arms as she buried her face in blonde silk and pressed a soft, adoring kiss to the top of JJ's head. Being with Jennifer like this was everything she had dreamed it would be and more. Much like the sweet taste of JJ's lips and the way the lithe blonde's body molded to her own, the entirety of their interactions that afternoon had been better than her wildest dreams. If it were not for the fact that her heart's desire was currently sleeping upon her chest she would be apt to believe she were trapped in the middle of yet another dream.

She drew random patterns on JJ's back as she held her close, enjoying the simple intimacy of the moment. She was unsurprised to realize that she was happier than she could ever remember being, and she knew that it was all because JJ was strong enough to take her hand and show her the way. To show her the way out from behind her walls and compartments, to show her the way to the blonde's heart.

"Mmm," JJ purred as she came awake to the feeling of Emily's fingers stroking lightly up and down her back.

Emily smiled as the blonde stretched languidly within her arms. "Nice nap?"

"Very," JJ hummed happily as she tilted her head up to press a soft kiss to the underside of the brunette's jaw. "How about you?"

"Best. Nap. Ever," Emily murmured as she dropped a slow, lingering kiss to JJ's brow.

JJ laughed lightly. "Nice dreams?"

"Don't remember," Emily confessed. "But you were here when I woke up this time, so that makes it the best nap ever."

JJ smiled widely as she lifted her head to claim Emily's lips with her own. The kiss was slow and gentle, the purest expression of affection, and spoke volumes more than the words either of them felt comfortable sharing at this point. She moaned softly as Emily's hands, which had been tracing light patterns over her shirt, slipped under the hem to press against the small of her back, pulling her in closer as the kiss grew deeper and more demanding. Her free hand began to roam aimlessly, sliding over the defined ridges of the older woman's abs and up over the delicate swell of her breast, eliciting a low, guttural groan from Emily, before she cradled the injured side of the brunette's face tenderly in her palm as she purposefully slowed their kisses until they were nothing more than a series of light, quick pecks.

"How's your head?" JJ asked softly between kisses.

"It's fine," Emily assured her.

JJ looked ready to speak when she was interrupted by a rather loud growl from Emily's stomach. "How's your stomach?" she asked with a grin.

"Angry, by the sounds of it," Emily chuckled. "I'm sorry Jennifer," she apologized softly as she ran a gentle hand over the blonde's jaw.

"For what?"

"Ruining the mood," Emily murmured.

JJ smiled. "Em, I am hoping we'll have many more moments like this one in the future. Your stomach growling hasn't ruined anything. What would you like to eat?"

You, was Emily's first thought. "I dunno," she opted to share instead. "I'm not picky, really. Are you hungry? What are you in the mood for?"

You… with a side of you for dessert, JJ thought wryly before responding, "Not take-out, we've been eating out all week. What do you have in your fridge?"

"Nothing. We've been gone all week."

"Riiiiight," JJ drawled. "Well, then, why don't I run to the market and pick up some stuff to make us dinner and you can either relax here on the couch or go soak in a hot bath or something."

"You don't have to cook us dinner, Jen," Emily protested. "I can do it."

"Yeah right," JJ chuckled. "Whatever you say, Ms. I Just Got Hit in the Head With a Two by Four."

Emily responded by petulantly sticking her tongue out.

"Hah! Real mature Prentiss."

"God you're beautiful when you laugh," Emily murmured, almost to herself as she stared intently at JJ. Realizing that she had spoken aloud by the way the blonde's features softened and her blue eyes grew noticeably darker, she tried to lighten the mood by changing the subject completely. "What is it with unsubs hitting me with pieces of lumber, anyways?"

JJ just shrugged and carefully laid a soft kiss to Emily's brow. "I don't know, but I swear to god I'm going to shoot the next one that tries it. Now, you relax while I run down to the market – I'll be back before you even know I'm gone."

"Not possible. I have always felt your absence whenever you're not nearby."

JJ smiled shyly. "You are smooth, Prentiss."

Emily shook her head. "I'm serious."

"And I am serious about wanting to make you dinner," JJ countered, not giving an inch. "So go upstairs, relax, and let me do what I want."

Emily laughed loudly at that. "Babe, haven't you realized that I always let you do whatever you want?"

JJ had her phone in her hand before she had even stepped foot out of the elevator heading out of Emily's building. She smiled and nodded at the doorman who opened the door for her and the moment she set foot on the sidewalk she was already listening the dulcet tones of Penelope Garcia who skipped her usual quirky greeting and jumped right into the issue at hand.

"Gumdrop! So, my hunk of burning love told me that you took our brown-eyed girl home today. How'd that go?"

JJ laughed. "Well, hello to you too, Pen."

"You sound awfully chipper. Did you get laid?"

"Hardly," JJ scoffed. "She has a grade three concussion. We did talk though."

"And you sound happy," Garcia observed.

"That would be because I am happy," JJ drawled playfully as she stopped at the corner to wait for the signal to cross.

"Well, quit holding out on me and dish! What happened?"

Emily sank deeper into the steaming bath, being careful to keep her phone out of the water. "She brought me home and we talked," Emily shared, rolling her eyes at her partner who was acting like an over-excited teenage girl.

"Uh huh, yeah. And if I was twelve I'd be happy with that information – but I want the good stuff!" Morgan whined.

"I don't kiss and tell," Emily reminded him. Which was not entirely true, she had done her share of bragging over drinks when they would go out just the two of them, but this was Jennifer and she was not going to disrespect the blonde by divulging anything personal about her.

"Please, Prentiss. We both know that isn't true."

"It is this time," Emily countered, her tone final. "JJ's different Derek. Special."

"So is she as good of a kisser and those pouty lips of hers suggest?" Penelope squealed.

JJ moaned at just the memory of Emily's sweet lips moving against her own. "Better. Definitely better."


"Definitely wow."

"But no nookie?"

JJ laughed lightly. "No," she confirmed, her voice sobering as she continued, "this is too special to rush, Pen."

"Okay, fine," Penelope sighed. "I admire your self-control. But soon, right?"

"God I hope so," JJ groaned.

After she had hung up on Morgan, Emily opened the drain of the tub and let a couple inches trickle out before closing it back up and refilling the tub with hot water. She pulled up her Pandora app and opened her favorite jazz station, smiling as the smoky smooth voice of Diana Krall cascaded from the tiny speaker on her Blackberry. She carefully set the phone down on a folded towel that was on the side of the tub and sank deeper into the water, letting the warmth tickle her nape and seep into her bones as she closed her eyes and gave herself over to throaty saxophones, muted trumpets, and the clear, crisp notes of a piano.

When the water had cooled for the third time, she reluctantly opened the drain and climbed out, quickly wrapping an oversized towel around her body to ward off the chill of the room. The water drained with quiet gurgles she dried herself off and shuffled over to the mirror above the vanity to really look at her injury for the first time.

A low, nearly silent gasp broke through her lips as she let her gaze focus on the swollen, bruised skin that stretched from her right cheek, up and around her eye, to cover half of her forehead. The bruising was a light purple along the edges and black in the center, and she knew that once it started to fade her face would resemble an overripe piece of fruit, slightly puffy and tinged with bilious looking colors of muted yellow and green. "Damn," she muttered as she held her towel to her body with her left hand so she could lightly touch her wounded face with her right. She had been so wrapped up in her embarrassment, and then Jennifer and the devotion that she could see shining in the blonde's clear blue eyes, that she had honestly forgotten about her injury.

After a few more minutes of staring at her face in the mirror she turned away, leaving the bathroom without a backwards glance as she made her way into her bedroom. She pulled her favorite pair of jeans out of her dresser, as well as an old heather gray Yale tee and a matching gray hoodie. She tossed the clothes carelessly onto the bed before opening two other drawers and selecting a matching bra and panty set that were neither scandalous nor utilitarian, but rather comfortable and modestly sexy, just in case.

As soon as she was dressed, she toweled her hair dry and returned to the bathroom to comb it out, fastidiously avoiding looking at the mirror this time as she dragged the brush through her hair. She took the stairs down to the main floor carefully, keeping a tight grip on the handrail as she descended slowly. Her stomach growled appreciatively at the delicious smells wafting from her kitchen and she smiled widely as she caught sight of JJ standing at her stove, stirring something she could not see and swaying from side to side, presumably dancing to music that only she could hear.

Her sock-clad feet made no noise as she touched down on smooth hardwood and she smirked as she playfully shuffled into the kitchen to wrap her arms around the blonde's waist. She chuckled as she felt JJ jump in surprise and murmured, "Something smells delicious," as she buried her face in the crook of the blonde's neck.

JJ smiled and set the wooden spoon she had been holding down across the top of the sauté pan. "You scared me," she admitted as she wrapped her own hands around Emily's that were resting comfortably upon her hips.

"Sorry," Emily muttered.

"Why is it that I don't believe you?" JJ asked, leaning her head back to rest it upon Emily's shoulder so she could look the older woman in the eye.

Emily smiled and laid a soft kiss to JJ's lips. "Because you know me."

"I'd like to," JJ whispered, almost wistfully.

Emily sighed and tightened her hold on JJ's waist. "You do, Jennifer."

JJ nodded and lifted her chin to kiss the brunette tenderly. Her insecurity made her want to ask if she truly did or not, but the open, unguarded look Emily was giving her told her that even if she didn't really know Emily yet, that the brunette was willing to open up and let her in. And that was more than enough for her for the time being. "How was your soak?"

"Heavenly." Emily smiled, pleased that JJ was willing to move their conversation to lighter, easier topics. "You could have told me how bad I looked though. I almost screamed when I saw my face in the mirror."

JJ turned in Emily's arms and lifted a hand to trace the uninjured side of the brunette's face with her fingertips. "You are as stunning as ever, Emily Prentiss," she murmured, tilting her head to the side and smiling as she watched a flash of embarrassment cross the brunette's features. "You are," she repeated when she saw Emily preparing to debate the point. "So don't argue with me."

"Yes ma'am," Emily chuckled.

"I am really liking this agreeable side of you," JJ hummed as she lifted her chin to claim Emily's lips with her own, but before the kiss could deepen, the pan that JJ had been attending made a wet popping noise and the blonde broke away with a soft laugh to tend to their meal. "You can't distract me like that," she chastised playfully, her words holding nothing but affection for the woman behind her. "I'll burn our dinner."

"Sorry. It smells divine, by the way. What are you making?"

JJ lifted the spoon to her lips and tasted the sauce coating it, nodding approvingly at the result of her efforts. She turned to lift the spoon to Emily's lips, letting the brunette taste the sauce as she answered, "Chicken breasts stuffed with sautéed mushrooms, bacon, shallots, and a little bit of parmesan in a red wine reduction sauce."

Emily moaned appreciatively at the taste. "Delicious."

"I'm glad you like it," JJ smiled as she turned back to the stove to drop the heat on the pan to a simmer and set the cover in place. "It just has to simmer for twenty minutes and we'll be good to go. The rice is already cooking so it'll be ready and I just have to make a salad."

"Wow," Emily murmured. "You didn't have to go to so much trouble, Jennifer. Really. This is too much."

"Nonsense." JJ grinned. "I wanted to cook for you, and this is my favorite meal. Now, why don't you go put on some music, I'll prep the salad real fast, and then we can sit on the couch and cuddle until everything is ready."

Emily gave the blonde a quick salute and a smile. "You know, I find this authoritative side of you rather sexy."

JJ grinned and gave the smiling brunette a quick, chaste kiss. "I'll keep that in mind. Now, go find some music."

"You like jazz?" Emily asked.

"I like everything."

"I'll keep that in mind." Emily smirked before turning on her heel and heading for the sound system that was housed in the entertainment center under the television.

She had her back to the rest of the room as she was staring at her iPod, carefully analyzing the different playlists she had complied, when deceptively strong arms slipped around her waist from behind causing her to jump in surprise.

"Gotcha," JJ's chuckled in a self-satisfied tone of voice.

"You do," Emily agreed, closing her eyes and relaxing into the younger woman's embrace. "You have for quite a while, in fact."

JJ smiled and pressed her face into Emily's back to hide the blush that had tinted her cheeks at the brunette's words. She flexed her arms, tightening her hold as she murmured, "So, what will we be listening to tonight?"

Emily looked back down at her iPod and frowned. She knew what she would like, but she was certain that her taste in music differed greatly from JJ's – even though the blonde had confessed to 'liking everything'. "Do you like Melody Gardot?"

JJ shrugged. "Dunno. Put it on and let's see."

"You sure? I mean, there's got to be something on here that you'd recognize," Emily offered as she looked back down at the iPod, wondering what exactly would be JJ's preference.

JJ smiled at the brunette's awkwardness. "Put it on, Em. I'm sure I'll like it. I happen to have a rather eclectic taste in music, as you'll soon find out," she shared as she released her hold on the older woman and moved back toward the sofa.

Emily nodded and pulled up the correct playlist before docking the unit and turning around to find JJ smiling at her from the couch. Her lips automatically curled to return the smile and made her way toward the blonde as the soft opening notes of 'If the Stars Were Mine' poured from the speakers hidden in the ceiling, filling the room with gentle chords and the smoky, sexy voice of her favorite jazz singer.

She watched the way JJ's head tilted to the side and her eyes grew a little unfocused as she listened to the lyrics, truly taking the time to hear the music. She sat down on 'her' corner of the couch and studied JJ's reaction to the music that she normally kept close to her heart.

"I like it," JJ murmured when the song ended and she slid across the couch so she could curl herself into the brunette's side.

Emily smiled and wrapped her arms around JJ. "I'm glad."

"Mmm," JJ hummed as she snuggled in closer. "It's very… you."

"I'm afraid to ask why you think that," Emily chuckled softly.

JJ turned to lay a soft kiss to the brunette's jaw. "The music is multifaceted, smooth, and undeniably sexy," she explained, smirking as she watched Emily blush at her use of the word 'sexy'. "This song, for example…"

"Quiet Fire," Emily supplied the title.

JJ smiled and nodded, rather liking the imagery those two words joined together in such an unusual combination created. It was actually fitting. "Well, the title is you – very much so. Quiet, reserved, but intense. The music itself is deep… the tempo is a little playful, but the lyrics are full of an undeniable depth and almost painful longing," she shrugged, feeling suddenly silly trying to explain something like this to a profiler.

"You know," Emily teased, trying to lighten the mood, "you should be a profiler."

JJ chuckled. "Nah, somebody has to keep you guys under control."

Emily laughed softly and tightened her hold on JJ as she relaxed into the couch, enjoying the sultry tones wafting through the speakers and the warmth and comforting weight of the woman in her arms. JJ smiled and buried her face in the crook of Emily's neck, breathing deep the clean, pure scent of the older woman as she relaxed into her embrace.

Part 9

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