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Take My Hand and Show Me the Way
Part One

By mel



The incessant beeping of the kitchen timer tore JJ from Emily's arms and both women felt the loss of contact acutely. Everything between them was so new, and yet it also had an overriding sense of rightness that made not touching an almost painful experience. Emily watched JJ walk toward the kitchen, taking the time to admire the blonde's delicious curves and the way she filled out her jeans, before she slowly worked her way off of the couch herself.

She tried to go into the kitchen to help JJ with the finishing touches on their meal, but her efforts were instantly rebuffed with a soft kiss and a murmured, "Go sit. I'll bring everything out in a second."

She wanted to argue, but could tell that this was something JJ really wanted to do for her so she obliged and did as she was told, taking her seat at the small dining room table to wait. She reached out to trace the edge of the crimson placemat, letting her nail rake over the small grooves of the fabric as she listened to the quiet clatter of plates on the other side of the bar. She looked over the black granite edge and grinned as she watched the way JJ went about her work with a small, pleased smile on her face.

"Here you go," JJ said as she set a plate down on each of their placemats. "I'll be right back with the silver and the drinks."

"I can get them," Emily offered.

"No, you won't," JJ countered, pressing a soft kiss to the crown of Emily's head.

Emily rolled her eyes and relented, again, thinking that she was in for a world of hurt when it came to Ms. Jennifer Jareau – she really was incapable of telling the woman 'no'. "Okay."

JJ heard the soft sigh that escaped Emily the moment she caved, and knew that it was taking a lot for Emily to sit back and give up control like this – even if it was just over dinner. So, she dipped her head down and claimed the brunette's lips in a soft, slow, lazy kiss of appreciation. "Thank you," she hummed as she pulled away.

Emily laughed. "No. Thank you, Jennifer."

"You are such a dork," JJ chuckled as she backed away.

Emily watched JJ lean over the bar to reach for something – the silverware, she assumed – on the other side. Which, of course, provided her with the perfect view of the younger woman's behind. She licked her lips and grinned lasciviously as she let her eyes caress every delicate curve.

"Stop looking at my ass, Prentiss," JJ chuckled.

Emily's eyes flicked up to find smiling blue eyes looking over a thin shoulder at her. She cleared her throat and grinned. "Sorry."

"No you're not," JJ corrected as she popped back up with her hands full of knives, forks, and napkins.

"No, I'm really not," Emily agreed.

JJ shook her head and laughed as she set the silverware down on the table. "You know, I am really liking this side of you," she confessed.

Emily smiled. "I'm enjoying being able to show it to you, so we're even."

JJ returned Emily's smile with a radiant one of her own as she set two wine glasses filled with what looked like white wine down on the table in front of them.

Emily sighed. "Jen, while I appreciate the romantic gesture, I can't drink alcohol right now."

"I know," JJ assured her as she pulled a small matchbook out of her pocket and lit the three small candles she had found and set out in the middle of the table. "It's sparkling cider. I just wanted to set the mood. Would you prefer a glass of water?"

Emily smiled and shook her head, amazed by the amount of thought and effort that JJ had put in to this meal. "This is wonderful, thank you," she murmured as she reached out with her left hand to pull JJ in close. Once JJ was beside her, she gave JJ's arm a gentle tug and smiled as the blonde leaned down for a kiss.

"I will never get tired of that," JJ whispered as she pulled back with a smile.

"I know what you mean," Emily agreed softly as she watched JJ take her seat. She reached out and took hold of the blonde's hand as she lifted her glass of cider. "To illustrious beginnings," she toasted.

"I like that." JJ smiled as she obligingly chinked her glass against Emily's before they each took a small sip.

Emily set her glass down and picked up her knife and fork, carefully cutting off a small piece of chicken to taste JJ's creation. As the sweetness of the sauce combined on her palate with the smokiness of the bacon, the richness of the mushrooms and onions, and the spiciness of the chicken, she let out a low moan of approval. "Jennifer, this is amazing."

JJ felt her heart skip a beat at the sound of Emily's low moan combined with her name and she could only offer a somewhat strangled, "Thank you," in response.

They dined in silence for some time, each of them content to bask in the simple act of enjoying a meal with another person. It was only when their plates had been pushed away that they fell back into their easy flow of conversation as JJ allowed Emily to help her clear the table. The dishes and silver were rinsed and set in the dishwasher and the pans from the stove were washed and dried as the two women laughed, teased, and stole the occasional quick kiss from the other until everything was put away where it belonged.

The soft, melodious jazz music was still pouring from the speakers and Emily smiled as she turned to gather JJ in her arms. "Dance with me?"

JJ tilted her head and smiled softly as she wrapped her arms around Emily's neck. "What brought this on?" she asked as Emily pulled her in closer, so that their hips were pressed lightly together.

"I missed holding you," Emily said with a small shrug as she began to move slowly to the music.

"Mmm," JJ hummed as she moved in closer and began to sway in time with Emily. "This overwhelming urge to touch is going to pose some serious problems for us at work, you know," she noted softly.

"It is," Emily agreed as she leaned in to kiss JJ.

"What are we going to do?"

"What we've always done. Share furtive glances. Perhaps steal a touch every now and again that lingers just a little too long."

"So nothing changes at work, then?" JJ clarified, watching the brunette carefully as they continued to dance to music that neither of them were hearing anymore.

"I don't see why it needs to." Emily shrugged. "As long as I can do this," she tightened her hold on JJ's waist and kissed her again, "when nobody is looking, it'll be worth it."

JJ smiled. "You certainly are a smooth talker, Agent Prentiss."

Emily shook her head. "I'm just being honest."

"I know I said this earlier, but I really am absolutely mesmerized by this side of you," JJ murmured as she slipped a hand out from behind Emily's neck to cradle the uninjured side of the brunette's jaw in her palm.

Emily relaxed into the younger woman's touch. "What side?"

"The side that doesn't have any walls or compartments," JJ whispered, her breath mingling with Emily's between their parted lips, hanging there for a moment before that final distance separating them was closed and warm lips came together in a soft, slow kiss.

Emily moaned as she felt JJ's lips on her own and tightened her hold on the blonde's waist as the kiss grew deeper to allow tongues to touch, stroke, massage. There was no fight for dominance, no struggle for control, just an easy connection of hearts and mutual desires expressed through the simple lover's language of a kiss.

"I have wanted to do this for so long," Emily breathed when the kiss broke.

"Me too," JJ whispered, her eyes still closed, as she leaned in to claim Emily's lips with her own once more.

Emily moaned in to the kiss and began taking slow, careful steps backwards toward the couch, pulling JJ along with her, step-for-step, until the backs of her legs made contact with the sofa. She pulled away from JJ to sit, a flash of disappoint flaring in her heart at the momentary separation, and she wasted no time pulling the blonde down onto her lap.

JJ smiled as she carefully lowered herself to Emily's lap, her legs angled to the side so that she was able to turn back into the brunette. The warmth of Emily's body spread through her as she settled into the older woman's arms and she held Emily's gaze as she dipped her head down to reclaim parted lips that were lifted toward her own expectantly.

Emily sighed as she felt JJ's lips fit around her own and she wasted no time opening her mouth, inviting the blonde in deeper. Twin moans marked the moment their tongues touched and they quickly became lost in each other, forgetting everything except the feeling of the woman in their arms and the feeling of her lips against their own. After a time their kisses slowed to a series of tender, lingering kisses, as they smiled deeply into each other's eyes.

"Wow," JJ whispered as she settled deeper into Emily's embrace. It had been a while since a simple make-out session had left her feeling so completely aroused and, more than that, desired. Even as she leaned back to look at Emily, she could feel the brunette's lips against her own, could still taste the sweetness of Emily's mouth upon her tongue.

Emily smiled and leaned in to press another quick kiss to JJ's swollen lips. "You were pretty 'wow' yourself, there, Jareau."

JJ blushed and reached down to take Emily's hand in her own, automatically twining their fingers together, as she studied Emily's reaction. The brunette's smile grew warmer, softer, more affectionate the longer she gazed at her and she felt as if the brunette were literally stealing the breath from her lungs. "Emily," she rasped as she drank in the emotions swirling in the older woman's gaze.

"Hmm?" Emily hummed, tilting her head to the side inquisitively.

"You're just…" JJ's voice trailed off as she lifted her free hand to carefully trace the curve of Emily's brow.

Emily smiled a small, embarrassed smile as she sat under the blonde's intense gaze.


Emily chuckled. "You are the breathtaking one, Jennifer. Since the moment I met you, you have taken my breath away."

"Mmm. I wanted you that day," JJ confessed.

"The feeling was mutual, I assure you."

"So why did it take us so long to get here?" JJ asked softly, punctuating her question with a kiss.

"Fear," Emily supplied, getting straight to the heart of the matter. "I should have listened to Derek a long time ago," she added.

JJ grinned. "When did you talk to him about me?"

Emily rolled her good eye and shook her head slowly from side to side. "It started not long after I joined the team," she shared. "He and I were out for drinks, just the two of us, and he was trying to push me into dancing with some guy who wouldn't stop staring at me…" her voice trailed off in a laugh as she felt JJ stiffen in her arms.


"You're getting mildly jealous over a story," Emily observed. "It's cute. But you have nothing to worry about. Morgan kept pushing until I snapped at him that the guy wasn't my type. He asked why, and I'd had enough alcohol at that point that I told him that the guy wasn't my type because he wasn't a woman."

JJ laughed. "How'd he take that?"

Emily smiled at the memory. "Quite well, actually. He designated me his 'wingman'," she shook her head at the memory of some of their excursions.

"I probably don't want to hear those stories, do I?" JJ smiled.

Emily shrugged. "He probably wouldn't like me to share, but I was always on my best behavior," she assured the blonde with a soft kiss, "my affections were already otherwise engaged."

"When did you tell him about me, then?"

"I didn't, actually. He caught me watching you with what he called a 'stupid-ooey-gooey-lovesick-grin' one too many times and called me on it. He knows we've talked, by the way, he called this afternoon when you were out."

JJ smiled. "Penelope knows too," she shared.

"Ah," Emily nodded. "Somehow I figured she would. Does she approve?" she asked, almost hesitantly. She knew the quirky technical analyst was JJ's best friend and that her opinion really did matter.

JJ kissed Emily softly and nodded. "She does. She's been pushing me to talk to you for quite a while now too."

"And here we are," Emily murmured.

"Finally," JJ agreed as she leaned in to claim Emily's lips.

Emily moaned as JJ's mouth opened over hers and she reflexively arched forward, into the blonde, as she pushed her tongue into the younger woman's mouth. She shuddered as she swallowed JJ's low moan of approval, answering it with one of her own as she felt the blonde turn into her and meet her thrusting tongue hungrily stroke for stroke. Wanting more control, needing more control, she guided JJ backwards onto the couch and covered the younger woman's supine body with her own.

JJ sighed as Emily's body settled atop her own, the brunette's thigh slipping easily between her own to press tight to her center. God so good, she thought as she rocked herself up onto the limb. All thoughts of Emily's injury and taking things slow went out the window with that first electric touch as she slid her hands up the brunette's toned torso to palm her full, heavy breasts that she had been dreaming about for months. She groaned as she hefted their weight, a spark lighting low in her belly as she felt Emily's nipples pressing into her palms.

"My god, Jen," Emily groaned as she felt JJ's thumbs brush over her nipples, causing her hips to rock forward, driving herself harder against the younger woman.

JJ's eyes rolled back in her head as Emily's leg flexed against her, delivering the perfect amount of pressure. "Emily," she gasped as her head shot up off the cushion to recapture Emily's lips, wanting that connection, needing to feel Emily's mouth against her skin.

"Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck!" Emily yelled as JJ's head came into contact with her injured cheek. She immediately rolled away from the contact, flinging herself off of the blonde and onto the floor beside the couch as her hands reflexively reached up to cradle her injured face.

JJ froze as she heard Emily swear, felt a wave of absolute terror roll through her as the brunette moved away from her. Her mind, now functioning on all cylinders, quickly determined what must have happened and her terror turned to the stomach-churning realization that she had hurt Emily. That she was the reason Emily was curled up in a ball on the floor and cradling her injured face. "Shit."

She jumped up and somehow managed to fit herself between Emily's body and the coffee table, an incessant string of curses falling from her lips as she tried to see exactly how bad Emily was hurt. "Please, baby," she muttered as she wrapped her fingers around Emily's wrists and began to pull gently against them so she could assess the damage. "Lemme see, Em," she cajoled as she pulled with a little more urgency against the brunette's arms.

"Fucking hell," she groaned as Emily fought against her. "Come on Em, let me see," she pleaded.

JJ's panicked voice broke through the cloud of pain surrounding Emily and she managed a rough, "I'm okay."

"Just let me see if we need to take you to the hospital, please," JJ replied as she again pulled against Emily's wrists.

The threat of being taken back to the hospital was enough to motivate Emily to move her hands so JJ could examine her cheek. "I'm fine, Jayj. Just a bump."

JJ frowned and leaned in close to carefully examine Emily's wounded cheek. "It doesn't look any worse," she muttered, almost to herself, as she ran a hovering finger above the bruise being careful not to touch it.

"It's fine," Emily assured JJ and even managed to push herself up to a sitting position.

Emily's movement did more to reassure JJ than the brunette's words, and she let out a sigh of relief as she watched her maneuver herself back up onto the sofa. She stayed where she was on the floor, afraid to get too close and risk hurting her again. "I'm so sorry," she murmured apologetically.

Emily offered the obviously upset blonde a lopsided smile. "I'm fine, Jennifer. Really."

JJ chewed her lower lip thoughtfully, her brow furrowing with her disbelief, as she studied Emily's open expression. "I'm sorry."

"Please, I was the one who laid you down on the couch and climbed on top of you. It was my fault, I just can't control myself around you," Emily argued, trying to put a playful tone to her voice to ease some of the guilt that was painted across JJ's features.

"I think we should probably slow things down until you're feeling better."

"I think that makes sense," Emily agreed, giving the blonde one of her rare, unguarded smiles. "Come give me a kiss to make it all better?"

JJ rolled her eyes and shook her head even as a small, amused smile tweaked her lips. It was hard to stay serious when Emily was looking at her like that. "I don't think that's the best idea, Em," she sighed.

"It's a brilliant idea," Emily countered as she leaned forward toward JJ. "Please?"

JJ sighed and pushed up to her knees so she could lay a soft, quick kiss to Emily's lips, being careful to avoid the brunette's injuries. "I'm sorry."

"I'm fine," Emily repeated, her smile fading as she watched JJ push herself up off the floor and moved to sit on the far end of the sofa. That would just not do. "Please don't avoid me Jennifer," she whispered, holding out a hand toward the blonde. "Come sit with me. We'll just be a little more careful."

JJ's face showed that she was not entirely sold on Emily's idea, but, even still, she obligingly stood to move closer to Emily. "Better?" she asked as she sat down beside the brunette.

Emily reached out and pulled JJ in to her side so that the blonde's body was once again curved comfortingly around her own. "Yes."

JJ wrapped her left arm around Emily's waist as she closed her eyes and laid her head on the brunette's chest. "I'm sorry."

"Jennifer, it's fine," Emily murmured as she pressed her lips to the crown of JJ's head, hoping the touch would reassure the blonde that she really was okay.

"You have no idea how scared I was that I was going to have to call an ambulance to take you to the hospital," JJ muttered against the soft cotton of Emily's sweatshirt.

Emily laughed. "I dunno, it would have been fun to watch Hotch's face as you told him how I reinjured myself."

"Hey!" JJ could not help but laugh. "Yeah, that's just how I want us to come out to the team. 'Hey, guys, yeah. See, me and Emily were making out on the couch…'," she let her voice trail off as Emily's hold around her waist tightened and the brunette's rich, musical laugh filled the air.

"Like I said," Emily chuckled. "It would have been priceless."

JJ rolled her eyes and laughed lightly. "Yeah. Priceless," she repeated drolly.

Emily smiled and lifted JJ's face so she could kiss the blonde softly. "Do you want to tell the team about us?"

JJ shrugged. "Derek and Pen know already, and I have a feeling that Hotch and Rossi do too."

This new piece of information got Emily's attention as she spluttered, "Wait, what? How? When? What?!"

JJ smirked. "When you were, um… let's say, confused, Hotch warned me to be gentle with you – that he thought your emotions were such to support your…"

"Delusions," Emily offered with a groan as her words and actions from the hospital the day before flashed through her mind. "Shit."

"They weren't delusions," JJ argued gently.

Emily huffed disbelievingly and refused to answer. It had not been even twelve hours since this whole thing between them started, she was not about to go telling JJ about how she had dreamed so many times of the life she had stupidly rambled on and on about in the hospital.

"He said he saw it before either of us did," JJ offered. "Which means that Rossi probably did too. The only one who probably won't have a clue is Spencer."

"Aw, you don't think Boy Wonder will have caught the signs?"

JJ laughed. "Be nice. He just doesn't think that way. The big problem is going to be…"

"Dragon Lady."

JJ nodded. "Yeah, figuring out what to do about Strauss."

Emily sighed and leaned her head back against the cushions as the reality of their lives threatened to steal the beauty from this oh-so-fragile beginning of a relationship. "Can we have at least have one honest-to-god date before things get complicated?"

JJ smiled. "Of course we can, Em. Is this your way of asking me out?"

"It is now," Emily chuckled softly. "What are you doing next weekend? You know, provided we aren't called out for a case."

Hopefully you, JJ thought. "You tell me, Agent Prentiss."

Emily smiled and took a moment to really think about it. Jennifer deserved something special, something romantic, something… "How about if you let me think on that for a bit and I'll get back to you."

"So, should I pencil you in?" JJ teased.

"Forget the pencil, you can just go ahead use a freaking sharpie," Emily quipped. "I guarantee I will not be cancelling on you, and if you play the work card then I guess I'll just have to follow you to whatever hotel, motel, no-tell you're staying at and pick you up there."

JJ laughed. "Such a romantic."

"Don't worry, Jennifer," Emily assured the blonde, her voice dropping into a smooth gray silk that oozed sex as she ran her fingers up and down JJ's back, "when the time is right I will do my damndest to sweep you off your feet. You deserve that, and so much more. But, for now, you know what sounds really good?"

JJ grinned. "I thought we were going to give you a little time to heal?"

"Mind out of the gutter, Agent Jareau," Emily laughed. "Although that does… sound… so… never mind. Chocolate."

"Hmm?" JJ hummed questioningly as she struggled to tear her mind away from the wonderful mental image she just got of Emily covered in chocolate – as she licked her clean.

Emily heard the shift in JJ's tone and knew that the younger woman was entertaining some probably very good ideas that she could do absolutely nothing about at the moment. "I was going to say that chocolate was sounding good," she said, trying to bring the conversation back from the bedroom. "After the richness of dinner something sweet is sounding really good."

JJ grinned and laid a quick kiss to Emily's chin. "Well, you're in luck. I happened to have gotten some chocolaty goodness when I was at the store earlier too."

"You take such good care of me."

"Oh, honey," JJ drawled as she pushed up off the couch. "You have no idea what I'm capable of."

Emily groaned and shot JJ a pleading look. "Can we please save the innuendo until I can do something about it?"

JJ pursed her lips thoughtfully as she considered the dessert she had waiting for them in the fridge. "No," she shook her head. "I don't think we can," she said as she turned toward the kitchen to gather their dessert.

Emily bit back a groan as she looked at the window to watch JJ's reflection sashay toward the kitchen. She could hear the fridge door opening and then there was a quiet clatter of ceramic plates landing on the granite counter. She smiled as she watched JJ's reflection head back toward the couch, a plate in one hand and a small bowl in the other.

"Whatcha got there?" Emily asked as JJ set the plates down on the table.

"Chocolate covered strawberries and whipped cream," JJ answered, sounding rather pleased with herself.

Emily frowned. "Why the whipped cream?"

Now it was JJ's turn to frown in confusion. "What do you mean? You don't dip your strawberries in cream too?"

Emily shook her head. "Never have before, but it sounds good."

JJ grinned. "Oh it is. The second dip makes the strawberry absolutely sinful."

Emily groaned as her mind jumped straight back to the gutter. There was somewhere else that she would like to dip that big, juicy strawberry JJ was waving in front of her face. "I'm convinced. Hit me with it, Jareau."



JJ sighed as she was waved through the security gate at Quantico. The weekend had flown by in a blink of an eye and she could not comprehend how in the world it was already Monday. It was early, but it was still Monday. She pulled into her parking space at the BAU and killed the engine, taking a moment to gather her thoughts for the day ahead. Mondays were always rough because she had more cases than normal to wade through, files sent over the weekend by over-worked, desperate detectives that she knew were piled upon her desk at that very moment – and today she would not even be able to console herself by looking at Emily.

She knew she should make her way inside and get to work, but she instead stole a moment for herself, to pull out her phone to send off a quick text to Emily whom she was sure would still be asleep. Instead, however, she found a message sitting in her inbox waiting for her.

If Morgan gives you any trouble, tell him that I will personally kick his ass when I'm allowed to come back. – E

She smiled and considered her response for a moment before replying, I'll miss you today. The message was short, but she knew that Emily would understand exactly what she was saying. They had spent the weekend cuddling on the brunette's couch, watching movies, talking, and doing the general get-to-know-you type things that people did when they entered a relationship. She was a little surprised to realize how much she missed the feeling of Emily's touch, the warmth of the brunette's body. It was almost as if some important part of herself was missing.

"This is insane," she muttered with a shake of her head as she opened her car door and reentered the real world with a quiet scuff of shoe leather against asphalt.

She had just passed through the security checkpoint inside the building when her phone buzzed again. I'll miss you too, Jennifer. Be safe.

She smiled at the message before tucking her phone back into her pocket and heading for the bank of elevators on the far side of the lobby. The sixth floor was quiet this early in the morning and she headed straight to her predictably messy office and shut the door, blocking out the rest of the world as she began to sort through graphic eight by ten glossy prints and neat-type-written case summaries in search for the worst of the monsters hunting their fellow man at the moment.

Emily turned off her television with a disgusted harrumph and tossed the remote onto the table in front of her. Her doctor's appointment wasn't until the next day and she was hoping that by taking it easy today she would be able to pass the physician's scrutiny with enough grace to be released back to work. Even sitting at a desk analyzing files full of horrific details and stomach-churning photographs would be more enjoyable than daytime television.

And I'd get to see Jennifer, she thought to herself, a small smile tweaking her lips as she thought about the beautiful blonde.

She closed her eyes and easily pictured the blonde sitting behind her chaotically organized desk pouring through case submissions and had a suddenly bright idea. She pulled her laptop onto her lap and flipped it open, quickly pulling up the yellow pages for florists around Quantico. She found what she was looking for and grinned as she punched the appropriate phone number into her phone.

"This is going to be great," she announced to the otherwise empty room as she listened to her call ringing through.

A knock on her door pulled JJ's attention from the grisly photographs in front of her. "Come in," she called out, almost thankfully as she leaned back in her chair, grateful for the interruption.

She watched as her door was pushed open slowly to reveal a pair of legs encased in blue jeans and an absolutely gorgeous bouquet of tulips arranged in a delicate vase. "Wow," she drawled, a slow smirk tweaking her lips as she pushed up from her chair to meet the deliveryman halfway.

"Jennifer Jareau?" he asked as he moved the bouquet to the side to look her in the eye.

"That's me." She grinned as she drank in the sight of yellow tulips interspersed with gorgeous pink and white variegated ones. In the center of the bouquet were two different tulips, one pure red, and the other cream. It was, perhaps, the most beautiful arrangement she'd ever seen – if only because she knew exactly who it was that had sent them.

"Perfect, here you go." He handed the vase and flowers over to her and waited while she set them carefully down on her desk. "Sign here, please." He held out the requisite delivery-guy clipboard.

She scribbled her name on the bottom of the page indicating that she had received the delivery and followed the young man to the door, thanking him again before she closed it. "You are something else, Emily Prentiss," she murmured as she turned toward the bouquet, intent on finding the card she knew would be hidden within the greenery.

Sure enough, the small white envelope was nestled safely inside the bouquet on a clear plastic prong. She ripped the envelope open and smiled at the words she found written on the small card. "Told you I could be romantic. E," she read aloud. "You did," she muttered as she dropped the card to her desk and ran an appreciative finger over a smooth yellow petal. "You most certainly did."

"Jayj!" Penelope Garcia yelled as she threw the communications liaison's door open.

JJ jumped in surprise at the scream and the sound of her door crashing into the wall and turned to find her friend regarding her with an all-knowing, shit-eating grin. "Garcia," she laughed. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"You tell me," Garcia drawled as she pushed past JJ to look at the bouquet. "Saw the delivery guy as he was riding up the elevator. Tulips are very nice," she observed. "Are they from our wounded comrade-in-arms?"

JJ rolled her eyes and nodded. "But you can't tell anyone, Pen. Seriously. She wants to go on at least one date before things get complicated."

Garcia nodded knowingly. "Damned Dragon Lady. I'm still trying to find enough blackmail on that Nazi-incarnate to make her leave us all the hell alone. But, enough about that. You got flowers!" she squeed. "Our Ms. Prentiss certainly has a definite flair when it comes to selecting bouquets, that's for sure."

JJ turned to look at the bouquet. "She does?"

Garcia nodded sagely. "Anyone can send roses. It takes somebody who is a certain amount of special to pick out something as gorgeous as this," Penelope murmured as she reached out to touch a red petal. "I printed out the meanings, in case you were curious," she continued as she pulled a folded piece of paper from her pocket and held it out. "Very insightful."

JJ laughed and waved her friend off. "Please, Pen. I'm sure she doesn't know the meaning of the flowers. She probably just told the florist…" her voice trailed off as she realized that Emily Prentiss never does anything that she doesn't mean. "Give me that paper," she snatched it from the technical analyst.

Blue eyes scanned the page hungrily and she smiled as she read the descriptions aloud, "Red tulips mean 'believe me' and are a declaration of true love," she murmured as she brushed a finger over the red flower in the center of the bouquet. "Variegated tulips," she moved to touch one of the pink and white blossoms, "mean 'you have beautiful eyes'."

"Awww," Penelope cooed.

"Shut up," JJ laughed. "Yellow tulips mean 'there's sunshine in your smile'."

"That girl sure is a panty dropper."

JJ looked up from the paper and leveled her eyes on her friend. "Pen!"

Penelope grinned and held her hands up in front of herself. "What? She is! Hell, she's not even my preferred gender and I'd put out if she sent me those!"

"Oh my god," JJ shook her head disbelievingly as she looked for the meaning behind the cream-colored tulip. "You are bad Pen. Oh," she gasped as she found the meaning at the bottom of the page. "Cream tulips mean 'I will love you forever'."

"Like I said, panty dropper."

JJ ignored her friend as she picked up the card that came with the flowers to place it safely in her back pocket. It was definitely something to be saved and cherished. "Wow."

"Wow is right," Penelope agreed. "I'm happy for you Peaches."

"Thanks," JJ murmured as she ran a finger over each of the different colored blossoms.

"Well, my work here is done," Penelope chuffed. "I should get back to my babies before they realize I've gone. Come visit me later."

"Mmm," JJ hummed distractedly.

Garcia smiled as she left JJ's office, pulling the door closed after herself. "Well done Ms. Prentiss," she murmured.

Emily smiled as JJ's ringtone shattered the silence inside her house. She had gotten a confirmation email from the florist not long after the flowers she'd ordered had been delivered, and she had been hoping for a phone call from the beautiful woman she had sent them to.

"Hey you," she answered with a smile.

"Hey yourself," JJ answered with a smile of her own. "You certainly know how to get a girl's attention, Agent Prentiss."

"So you liked them then?"

"They are absolutely gorgeous," JJ answered as she gazed at the flowers on her desk. "Really, Em. Thank you."

Emily's eyes softened at the tone in the blonde's voice. "My pleasure. I'm glad you liked them," she whispered.

In her office deep within the bowels of Quantico JJ let out a long, wistful sigh. She wanted nothing more than to be back on Emily's couch, snuggled comfortably in the brunette's arms. "Can I come see you tonight?"

"Jennifer," Emily murmured, "you never have to ask. Call me when you're on your way and I'll take care of dinner."

It was after six when she finally closed the last file for the day and set it atop the rest. Tomorrow she would distribute them amongst the team, but for tonight there was nothing so pressing that they had to grab their bags and fly off somewhere to help.

"Thank god," she groaned as she leaned back in her chair, arching her back in a slow stretch that helped ease some of the tension that had built up during the day.

She looked at the flowers Emily had sent her and smiled, deciding that it was time to go home. She stood and slipped her arms into her coat as she debated taking the flowers with her or leaving them where they were. Her natural instinct was to gather the vase and take it with her, but she had liked having them to look at while she worked, a constant reminder that all was not lost and that hope and love not only exist, but also flourish and thrive in the face of such depravity. So it was with one last sniff of their delicate fragrance and one last brush of her fingertips over a soft petal, that she left the bouquet where it was and left her office, locking the door after herself as she went.

She had her phone in her hand the moment she exited the building and wasted no time calling Emily. "Hey."

"Hey yourself, Jennifer," Emily's smiling voice answered. "You still at the office?"

JJ grinned and opened her car door. "Nope. Leaving now."

"Wow, and before seven. I'm honored."

"I can always go back inside and find something to do," JJ teased as she pulled out of the lot and started for Emily's house.

"I see how it is," Emily laughed. "I send you two dozen tulips and this is what I get? Snark and teasing?"

"You'd get more than that if you weren't hurt," JJ replied, smiling as she heard Emily's breath hitch. "Cat got your tongue, Prentiss?"

Emily groaned. "I… just… damn, Jennifer."

JJ laughed and turned toward I95. "Do you want me to stop and pick anything up?"

"Nope. Just bring yourself. And your lips. I missed them today."

"I missed yours too," JJ whispered. "See you soon, Em."

Emily shook her head and stared at her phone, wondering – and not for the first time – how in the world her life had changed so dramatically in the last four days. It boggled the mind, really, that a week ago she was still a helplessly closeted romantic when it came to all things Jennifer Jareau, and now she was able to send her flowers with little notes and have dinner with her, just the two of them.

"My god, I love my life," she muttered with a grin as she opened up her contact list and dialed up the back kitchen at Ranch.

The call was answered with a rushed, "Yeah," and she could hear the sounds of steaks sizzling and pots and pans clinging in the background

"Hey, Paul – it's Emily Prentiss."

"No way! Emily, darling, how are you? How's your mom?"

Emily smiled at the warmth in her old friend's voice. Paul Walker, now the owner and executive chef at Ranch – one of DC's newest 'it' steakhouses – was at one time the head chef at the Ambassador's residence in Luxembourg. He had seen the way that she had been virtually ignored by her parents and had welcomed her into his kitchen with open arms. It was from him that she had learned how to cook, and if there had been any groceries in her house, she would have put his lessons to good use.

"Mom's good… I think. No news means everything's going well there, you know how it is," Emily answered. "And I am doing well. Great, actually."

"Glad to hear it darling," he answered, and then Emily assumed that he put his hand over the mouthpiece of the phone because his next words, 'Goddammit, no! Not like that!', were distinctly muffled. "Look, kiddo, not that I don't love talking to you – but is there a reason you called during the dinner rush?"

"Actually-" Emily smiled "-there is. There's this girl that I've recently started… well, anyways, her name is Jennifer. And she's coming over for dinner tonight. If I sent a car over there to pick up an order, could you make us two of your mouth-watering filets with all the trimmings?"

"Why don't you just swing by and pick it up yourself?"

"I uh… I have a grade three concussion and am not allowed to drive until I get cleared by my doctor," Emily said with a grimace.

Paul laughed. "You always did have the worst luck with hitting your head."

"Hey! This time it wasn't my fault – a suspect decided to use my face for batting practice!" Emily argued with a laugh.

"How about this, then. I'll make you and your girl something special, on the house, and have one of my busboys run it over to you since you're just on the other side of the Mall. Then, when you're all healed up, you bring this Jennifer by the restaurant so I can meet her. She must be something special to have caught your attention like this."

"Believe me, Paul, she is." Emily smiled. "She most certainly is. And you have yourself a deal."

"Take care of yourself kiddo," Paul replied warmly. "I'll talk to you soon."

"You got it. Thanks," Emily murmured.

Emily had just finished setting out plates and silverware when the melodious chimes of the doorbell rang out. She habitually brushed her hands off on her jeans as she turned from the table and checked her watch as she hurried down the hall to the door. She glanced out the peephole and spied a young, good-looking kid in a pair of black slacks and a white button down shirt holding a rather large bag in front of him.

"Hey." She smiled as she opened the door. "Thank you so much for running this over."

"It wasn't a problem at all, ma'am," the kid replied quickly as he handed her the bag. "Chef Paul sends his regards, and told me to tell you to put the desserts into an oven to stay warm."

"Dessert?" Emily murmured as she glanced into the bag of food. "Oh god, he sent the chocolate lava cake."

The kids smiled. "It's a favorite at the restaurant."

"I'm sure it is," Emily assured him. "Here," she pulled a folded bill from her pocket and handed it to the kid. "A tip for running this out here."

The kid's eyes widened as he saw Benjamin Franklin looking back at him. "Wow… Thanks!... I mean.. this is…"

Emily grinned. "Yours, for a job well done." The elevator chimed, and she looked up to see JJ striding out of the car with her familiar, confident gait. She felt her grin soften into a warm, welcoming smile and she reached out a hand toward the blonde once she got close enough to touch. "Hey," she murmured.

"Hey yourself, Prentiss," JJ said, returning the brunette's smile with one of her own.

"Right. Well, I need to get back to the restaurant." The kid cleared his throat. "Enjoy your dinner," he offered with a small bow as he backed away from the two women who were looking as if they were oblivious to anything beyond each other.

JJ was the first to snap out of the spell that had befallen them and she gave Emily's hand a slight tug as she made her way inside the brunette's condo. "Dinner?"

"Um, yeah." Emily blushed. "I was going to cook for you, but then I realized that I didn't have anything that I needed. And since I can't drive yet and I didn't feel like walking to the market, I went with the next best option.

"Delivery," JJ laughed.

"Busted," Emily muttered playfully as she pushed past JJ to set the bag onto the island. She smiled as she heard the blonde close and lock the front door, and then her breath was literally stolen from her when she turned to find herself pulled into a fierce embrace as hungry, seeking lips covered her own.

She moaned into the kiss and reached out for JJ's hips, pulling the blonde in closer as she pushed her tongue between parted, willing lips. The kiss grew slower, deeper, hotter with every brush of tongues as they reacquainted themselves with the taste, the feel, the smell, the very essence of the other's presence after a long day spent apart.

"Mmm," JJ hummed as she broke the kiss.

"Wow," Emily breathed. "What was that for?"

JJ smiled and laid a soft, lingering kiss to Emily's lips. "I missed you. And you sent me flowers."

Emily grinned. "I'll send you flowers every day if this is what I get for it," she murmured playfully as she wrapped her arms around JJ's trim waist and pulled her in even closer. "God, I missed you," she sighed as she buried her face in JJ's hair.

JJ relaxed into Emily's embrace and laid her head on the older woman's shoulder. "How you feeling?"

"Good. Headache isn't nearly as bad, and my cheek only hurts if I touch it."

JJ pulled back to look at Emily's injury. It was looking rather disgusting, the deep purple of the bruise fading to light blue and even greens and yellows toward the edges. "It looks… better," she noted tactfully.

Emily rolled her eyes, as she could now see out of both, and laughed. "I guess 'better' is one way to describe it. Come on Jareau," she pushed lightly against JJ's hips. "Let's eat dinner before it gets cold."

JJ smiled and backed away a little regretfully. She set her purse down on the bar and followed Emily to the table where the brunette began unpacking their dinners. "My lord, Emily," she laughed as she watched carton after carton appear. "What did you order?"

"I called an old friend and had him make us something," Emily explained as she transferred JJ's steak to her plate.

"Old friend, huh?" JJ murmured as she eyed the five-star meal being set out.

Emily grinned. "Perk of growing up an Ambassador's daughter, I suppose. Our old chef has a new restaurant here in the city – I called him up and asked him to send something over for us." She opened up a couple of smaller containers and eyed their contents speculatively. "We have what looks like garlic mashed potatoes, steamed carrots, and grilled asparagus. What would you like?"

"Yes," JJ answered with a grin as she headed into the kitchen. "What would you like to drink?"

"What would I like, or what should I have?" Emily replied. "Water will be fine, thank you. I want to make sure I pass my physical tomorrow. If you'd like, there is a nice Cabernet on the rack in the cupboard."

"I'll wait to share it with you," JJ answered as she pulled two pint glasses out of the cupboard above the sink and filled them with water. "Here you go," she murmured as she set the glasses down next to each of their plates that were now filled with steak, mashed potatoes and veggies. "Looks amazing," she observed as she leaned in and kissed Emily's cheek softly. "Thank you."

"Yeah, it was real tough picking up the phone," Emily joked as she speared an asparagus tip with her fork.

JJ just shook her head, recognizing the deflection for what it was and letting it slide. If Emily wanted to play this off as if it were no big deal, she could do that as well. "So, what did you do today?" she asked as she cut into her steak which, she was pleased to note, was cooked to a perfect medium-well – just like she liked it.

Emily shrugged. "Nothing much. Watched some television, stared out the window, sent the most beautiful woman in the world flowers to let her know that I couldn't stop thinking about her… you know, the usual."

JJ blushed at not only Emily's words, but also the warm tone of her voice. "Pen was right," she muttered with a shake of her head.

Emily grinned. "Do I want to know what Garcia was right about?" she asked as she scooped a forkful of potatoes into her mouth.

JJ looked at Emily and grinned. "You really are a panty dropper."

Emily choked on the bite she was trying to swallow. "Ah! Oh! God, Jennifer!" she spluttered as she reached for her glass of water as JJ laughed. "When did she say this?" she squeaked before she took a drink.

JJ's smile faltered as she considered, for the briefest of moments, the possibility that Emily did not know the meaning behind the flowers she had received.

Emily watched the laughter fade from JJ's eyes and knew something was up. "Jennifer?"

"She, ah… she liked the flowers you sent," JJ said softly.

Emily smiled. "That's nice. But I was more concerned about you liking them," she replied. She watched the way JJ blushed a little and looked down at her plate, and had a pretty good idea as to what had the blonde looking suddenly unsure, she added, "I picked those flowers just for you."

JJ felt her heart take flight in her chest as the invisible band of fear loosened. "You knew what they meant?"

Emily nodded. "I'd thought about sending that particular bouquet to you many times, I just figured I'd never get the chance to do it," she confessed as she set her fork down and reached out to take JJ's hand in hers. She ran her thumb over the back of the younger woman's hand as she added softly, "Are you okay with them? With… what they represent?" she asked hesitantly, only now realizing that the single red and cream tulips might have been too much, too soon.

Her fears were soothed, though, by JJ's soft smile and the bob of her head. "Yeah," JJ murmured. "I'm more than okay with it."

"Good." Emily smiled. "So," she continued, "what would you like to do after dinner?" she asked as she turned her attention to her meal.

JJ chuckled. "Well, there is what I would like to do," she looked seriously at Emily, the tenor of her voice and the darkening of her eyes conveying exactly what she would like to do, "and what would be a more appropriate activity given the fact that you have a physical tomorrow morning."

"Jennifer," Emily groaned.

JJ smiled and set her fork down on her plate so her hand was free to motion the brunette closer. "Come here," she instructed.

"Hmm?" Emily asked as she followed the younger woman's directions and leaned in close.

JJ shook her head and pushed herself up out of her seat enough that she was able to claim Emily's lips in a soft, slow kiss. "How about a movie and… a little of this?" she suggested softly, kissing the brunette again for emphasis.

Emily opened her eyes when she felt JJ pull away and licked her lips as she nodded. "I think that could be arranged," she husked as she swept in and kissed JJ again.



Emily smiled as she pulled her phone out of her pocket to call JJ. The doctor had given her the all-clear to resume desk duties and even travel with the team, and had said that, provided she continued to heal as quickly as she was, she should be back in the field in another two or three weeks.

"Hey." She smiled into her phone as she carefully slipped her sunglasses on.

"Hey," JJ answered. "How'd it go?"

"Good. He released me for desk duty, at least."

"That's good to hear," JJ sighed. "How long until you can get here?"

"Um…" Emily stalled as she looked for the car she had hired for the day, finally finding it parked in the back corner of the lot. "Fifteen minutes, maybe," she said as she lifted her arm to signal the driver. She was afraid he had not seen her, until the sound of the sedan's V-8 turning over rumbled through the parking lot. "Why?"

"Because we're going wheels up in about forty-five. Got a case in Connecticut."

"Yeah, I was watching some of the coverage on that one yesterday. I was wondering if we were going to end up out there."

"Well, we are. They just found another three bodies, the media is swarming, and they want this thing solved two days ago."

"I'll bet," Emily sighed. "I'm getting into the car now. I'll be there in a few."

"Make it faster than that," JJ replied. "You're going to have to talk Hotch into letting you come with us, you know how he gets."

JJ was busy collecting the files she would need for the trip when she heard a chorus of "Prentiss!" explode out in the bullpen. She smiled as her eyes reflexively flashed to the bouquet on her desk, and she found herself having to fight the urge to go out there herself. They had agreed to keep things professional at work and it wasn't until just now that she realized exactly how difficult that was going to be.

So, even though she wanted to go out to the bullpen to say hello to Emily, she stayed in her office, finishing up the work that needed to be done. She only looked up from her papers when there was a playful knock on her open door. "Hey," she smiled as she let her eyes rake up Emily's body, finally meeting the brunette's warm, smiling gaze.

"Hey yourself, Jareau," Emily teased, looking over her shoulder quickly before entering JJ's office and closing the door after herself. "Nice flowers."

"Yeah," JJ grinned, playing along. "Some girl sent them to me."

"Just some girl, huh?" Emily drawled as she crossed the small space to stand right next to JJ. "Well, this 'girl' has excellent taste in flowers. Tulips are a bold choice. The yellows and the variegated ones suit you well."

"I especially like the red one," JJ shared.

Emily smiled and brushed her hand over JJ's cheek. "Me too," she smiled as she leaned in closer to steal a kiss.

"Security cameras," JJ warned softly as she leaned away, an unmistakable note of regret in her voice.

"Damn FBI," Emily grumbled. "Later?"

"Definitely," JJ murmured. "Have you seen Hotch?"

"Not yet, I wanted to come see you first."

"While that's sweet, you should really go see him. We're going to have to leave in a few minutes for the plane."

"I know," Emily groaned, her shoulders dropping in defeat. "I just… I know. I'll go see him now."

JJ sighed and looked up at the camera in the corner of the office above the door. She knew it was there for security purposes and that it didn't have sound – but, until today, it had never seemed oppressive. She smiled understandingly as she followed Emily to the door, her grin growing wider as they slipped under the camera's view.

"Hey," she called out softly, reaching out and catching Emily's arm before she could open the door.

"Hmm?" Emily hummed questioningly as she turned to look at JJ.

JJ lifted her chin toward the ceiling and answered, "We're invisible here."

Emily's confusion disappeared and was replaced with a slow, expectant grin. "We are, huh?"

JJ nodded and gently pushed Emily back against the wall. Once the brunette was pinned, she cupped the smiling woman's face in her hands and leaned in, claiming her lips in a kiss that set both their pulses racing.

Emily sighed and relaxed into JJ's caress, a low moan escaping her as she felt JJ pull away. "Wow."

JJ grinned. "You say that a lot," she observed as she leaned in and gave the brunette one last quick, chaste kiss. "Now, go see Hotch while you can."

"Yes ma'am," Emily replied with a goofy grin and a sloppy salute.

JJ shook her head and laughed as she opened the door. "Go, Prentiss."

Emily licked her lips and nodded, making sure to 'accidentally' brush against JJ as she passed. Her grin grew wider as she heard the blonde's breath hitch. "See you soon," she murmured.

Not even a minute later she was standing outside the Unit Chief's open door and knocking lightly on the frame. "Hotch, can I speak to you for a moment?"

"Sure, come on in," he said without looking up as he continued to pack up the materials he thought they might need for the case. "What's up?"

"I got cleared," Emily replied, holding out the paper from the doctor which spelled out the exact limitations of her release.

Hotch frowned thoughtfully as he scanned the report from Emily's doctor. He was surprised to see that the physician cleared her for everything short of actual field work. "You're not cleared for the field," he observed.

"But he cleared me to travel," Emily pointed out. "I don't have to go in the field to help. I can run victimology from the precinct, do the geographical data mapping as it's needed. I can be of more help there Hotch, don't make me stay here," she argued, not caring that she was practically begging. She couldn't stand the idea of JJ going off to hunt this monster with her stuck back on base at Quantico.

Hotch stood up straight and crossed his arms over his chest as he studied Emily carefully. The brunette had always been eager to prove herself to both him and the team and the time had long since passed when she'd needed to prove anything to anybody, so he had a pretty good idea of why she was so eager to travel with the team. And that reason was one thing that did need to be cleared up as soon as possible. No matter how much he wished his two female agents happiness in their personal lives, he also had a unit to run.

He moved around his desk to close the door to his office. "Does this have anything to do with the flower delivery JJ got yesterday?" he asked, getting directly to the point of the matter as he picked up his phone and punched in an extension. "My office, now, please," he ordered without preamble and hung up before the person on the other end could respond.

Emily sighed softly as she seriously considered her response to his question. It did, and yet it didn't. She wanted to be with JJ however she could, but she also knew that she would lose her ever-loving mind if she were forced to stay back at Quantico and run data. "I'm not exactly sure how to answer that, sir," she finally answered.

He nodded and let silence overtake the room as he waited for JJ, who arrived a few seconds later, announcing her presence with a quick knock on the door as she pushed it open slowly.

"Hotch?" the blonde asked as she stepped into the room and closed the door behind herself before moving to stand beside Emily.

Hotch looked from JJ to Emily, noting their obvious concern. "You both know that I am supposed to put a stop to this," he said, waving a hand between the two women indicatively. "It is no secret that the Bureau has strong views on the matter of teammates becoming involved romantically. So, we need to establish some ground rules."

"Ground rules, sir?" Emily spoke up.

Hotch nodded. "When we are at work or in the field, so long as it's in an official FBI capacity, I expect you both to conduct yourself in a professional manner. You need to be SSA Jareau-" he looked pointedly at JJ before shifting his gaze to her partner "-and you need to be SSA Prentiss. There can be no blurring of the lines. And, god forbid you have a fight or break up, I don't want to see it in my bullpen. Am I clear?"

"Yes, sir," JJ answered.

"Crystal," Emily replied.

"Good," Hotch smiled. "Now that we have that out of the way, let me say that I am happy for the both of you and that you can count on me to have your backs should your relationship become an issue with the Bureau."

Emily let out a small sigh of relief and looked over to JJ who she could see was equally relieved. They had both hoped that Hotch and the rest of the team would support them, but it was reassuring to hear it.

"Thank you, Hotch," Emily said sincerely.

He just nodded and turned back to the work he'd been doing before Emily had entered his office. "Wheels up in twenty," he announced by way of a dismissal.

JJ sighed as she dropped into what she liked to call 'her' seat on the team's private plane. She kicked off her shoes and relaxed into the plush leather seat, delighting in the way it conformed to her body. Their job could be a living hell most of the time, but this plane made it at least a little bit bearable.

"Hey." Emily smiled as she came to a stop in the aisle next to where JJ was sitting. "Is this seat taken?"

JJ laughed and waved at the open seat invitingly. "You are such a dork. Get over here," she instructed, her smile growing as Emily sat down beside her. "I'm glad you're coming with us," she murmured as she reached out to rub her foot against Emily's calf.

"Me too." Emily smiled.

"Hey, hey, hey! Wouldya lookey here," Morgan crowed as he threw himself into the seat opposite JJ's.

"Morgan," Emily growled warningly, her eyes flashing fire. "Behave."

Derek grinned and gave each of the women a knowing wink as he slouched in his seat. "Somebody-" he waggled his brows at JJ "-got a flower delivery yesterday," he shared, as if Emily hadn't known. "Has the whole floor speculating as to who sent them."

Emily smirked at her partner. "The whole floor?"

"Well, Reid and the other teams are guessing," he conceded.

"I told you Spence wouldn't have a clue," JJ muttered.

"Spence wouldn't have a clue about what?" Reid asked as he stopped beside their grouping of chairs. "I'll have you know that I am not oblivious to the world around me. I know something is going on."

"Do you?" Emily asked, tilting her head questioningly.

"I do." He nodded as he lowered himself to the empty chair beside Morgan. "JJ, for example, got flowers delivered yesterday and she has been much happier than usual – so that leads me to believe that she is in a new relationship."

"It does, huh?" Emily played along, shooting a sidelong glance at JJ who was now blushing adorably.

Reid nodded. "It does. And, Morgan and Garcia have been spending more than their usual amount of time flirting and gossiping which suggests that they know who this mystery man is as well."

Emily shot Morgan a look, to which he responded with an unapologetic shrug. "Really," she drawled.

"Yes," Reid replied, sitting up straighter in his chair as he found his groove. "But what strikes me as being more than a little strange is the fact that you are not getting jealous like you normally do whenever JJ is the object of somebody's attention."

This observation had Morgan and JJ laughing out loud, which confused the poor genius terribly.

Emily scowled. "I do not get jealous."

"Actually," Morgan interrupted, rather enjoying the flustered look his partner was now wearing, "you do, princess."

"Do not," Emily retorted.

"You kind of do, Em," JJ corrected the brunette in a loud whisper, offering Morgan a conspiratorial wink as she did.

Emily turned to glower at JJ but her scowl disappeared into a goofy grin as she met the younger woman's gaze. "Well, can you blame me?" she replied playfully, letting her eyes soften until they were filled with the depth of her affection for the blonde.

JJ licked her lips and shook her head. "No," she murmured with a small shake of her head as she held Emily's gaze captive.

"I'm confused," Reid piped up.

Morgan chuckled. "You two just keep having eye sex while I explain the beauty of Sapphic love to our dear Doctor Reid."

Reid's eyes widened as he processed what Morgan had just said. "Oh, I see," he muttered, shifting a little uncomfortably in his seat as he looked at JJ and Emily. "So, there is no mystery man."

"No, there isn't," Emily answered him seriously.

Reid nodded. "Oh." He met JJ's concerned gaze and smiled. "Okay."

"Good, so… now that we have the big ol' coming out thing outta the way, details!" Morgan announced with a lascivious grin as he rubbed his hands together expectantly.

"Don't think so, partner," Emily laughed, nodding her thanks to the man for lightening the mood considerably.

"Details about what?" Reid asked.

Morgan slapped a palm to his head dramatically and groaned. "Are you serious?"

"Serious about what?" Hotch's voice broke through the playful bubble that had surrounded the group.

"Nothing, sir." Emily shook her head.

"Good," he replied as he took a seat opposite the group. "I know we did a briefing on this case earlier, but now that Emily is joining us I want to run through it all again so that we are all on the same page."

The four younger agents all sat up a little bit straighter as they slipped into 'work mode'. "I was following the case on the news yesterday, so I know some of what is happening," Emily shared as she watched David Rossi board the jet.

"Excellent," Hotch nodded. "With the three bodies that were discovered this morning, the body count is up to eight. Two of the women recovered today have already been identified by the local Medical Examiner's office," he explained as he looked up and caught Rossi's eye. "Right, we're about to take off. Prentiss, look through the file and we'll go through it more once we're in the air."

Emily nodded and took the file that JJ had pulled out to hand her. She flipped it open and glanced over the first page as the plane began to taxi toward the runway. She flipped through the file as the plane went through the usual take-off procedures and once they were in the air she looked up from the file to focus on JJ, who began filling her in on some of the finer details of the case.

"The first five victims were found on a remote beach just outside Fenbrook, Connecticut, without any form of identification on or near the remains. No clothes, watches, wallets, cell phones. Due to the fact that the bodies were skeletonized, and that scavengers had made off with some of the bones, the autopsy has only given us the basics: gender, race, height range, age range. All are Caucasian, and in the thirty to forty-five age range. All are Jane Does at this point."

Emily nodded as she flipped through some of the pictures nestled in the back of the folder she was perusing.

"Victims six through eight are fresher, so there was a little bit more to find as the bodies had not decomposed enough for evidence to be destroyed. Because there is more evidence we know that they are all female, Caucasian, and in their early thirties. Six is still a Jane Doe, seven and eight have been identified as Michelle Turner and Rebecca Holland, respectively."

"Autopsy and toxicology reports on these three?" Emily asked as she flipped to the back of her file.

"The local ME brought in some outside help and they are working on all three as we speak. He hopes to have something for us by the time we get up there."

"Okay." Emily nodded.

"Local PD are compiling data on Turner and Holland, Garcia is working her magic, and we are going to handle the interviews of the families. Rossi and I will handle those," Hotch said. "Reid, Morgan, go out to the beach where the bodies were all recovered and see if you can't get a read on this guy."

"The one time I forget to pack my flip-flops," Morgan groaned.

Hotch ignored the quip and continued giving instructions. "JJ, you know what to do. Try and get that department sealed up as tight as possible – I don't want any industrious reporters finding a talkative detective and getting details of this thing. Emily, you're going to be riding a desk at the precinct. Pour through all the information we have regarding the last two victims that have positive IDs. Run any ideas through Garcia, see if you can't come up with possible IDs for the Jane Does."

Emily nodded. "Right."

"These IDs could be the break we need to catch this guy, I want everybody ready to roll as soon as we touch down."

Emily leaned back in her chair and ran her hands through her hair as she watched JJ handling the local police, enamored as she always was of the blonde's ability to command attention. She caught JJ's gaze for the briefest of moments when the blonde looked her way, and she couldn't help but smile as she watched the blonde instructing the local cops and begin running through her media procedures and what she was expecting them to say to reporters should they accidentally get cornered by one. She watched JJ wave the group down the hall, presumably to inspect the precinct's media briefing room, assuming this small town police department even had one. She sighed and returned her attention to the open file in front of her as JJ's voice trailed off down the hall, leaving her alone to her thoughts and the gruesome details of the case they were asked to help solve.

She was halfway through the file on the most recently recovered body when something caught her eye. She frowned thoughtfully as she pulled her phone from her pocket, reflexively hitting the third number on her speed dial.

Penelope Garcia picked up after the first ring. "Talk dirty to me, princess."

Emily dropped the pen she'd been twirling between her fingers. "Um, sorry. What?" she stuttered, cringing as Penelope's musical laugh boomed out of her phone.

"You are too easy," Garcia chuckled. "What's up, sweetness?"

"Can you hack into the Craigslist database?"

Garcia scoffed. "Don't insult me, I'm still trying to figure out how stern of a 'if you hurt her' speech you're going to get. What do you need?"

"Rebecca Holland. Report says she advertised her services on Craigslist. Roommate last saw her as she was heading out to meet with somebody she met via the site. Can you get into her account and trace who she was corresponding with?"

"And thus, Craigslist became the modern pimp."

"PG," Emily sighed, running a tired hand over her face. "Shit," she hissed as she accidentally brushed her injured cheek.

"What's up?"

"Nothing," Emily groaned as she waited for the pain to ease. "Do you have anything yet?"

"Oh, have ye a little faith. Our girl was quite popular with the fellas," Penelope replied. "Hmm, and the ladies, too, by the looks of it. Wow, lots of ladies. You go girl. Gotta love anti-discrimination at work."

Emily rolled her eyes. "Okay. How about Michelle Turner?"

"Way ahead of you, Casanova," Penelope drawled. "She had an account too, but was not nearly as active as Rebecca Holland. Mostly selling stuff. Couches, a dresser, old textbooks, the usual."

"Damn," Emily groaned.

"Hold on," Garcia cut in. "I'm running a cross-check through the users that accessed each of their ads and there were twelve accounts that accessed ads from both women."

"And they couldn't figure this out before now?" Emily muttered. "What were they doing up here?"

"You probably don't want me to answer that," Garcia replied seriously.

"Can you find out what else the owners of those accounts looked at over the last…" Emily's voice trailed off as she pulled the file for what was assumed to be the first victim. "Seventeen months."

"Wow, this guy is controlled," Garcia observed.

"And thorough," Emily agreed.

"Okeydokey my little love bug, I'll hit you up when I got something."

"You are awesome, PG – thanks."

"Sucking up isn't going to get you out of that talk, princess," Garcia warned.

Emily smiled at the warmth in her friend's tone. "Can't blame a girl for trying," she laughed.

"I guess I can't. Garcia, out."

Emily flipped the last manila file closed and pushed herself up from her chair, arching her back to work out some of the kinks that had settled in during her hours hunched over the table reading file after file, trying to find some piece of information that might help them catch the unsub.

"How's it going?" JJ murmured from her position in the doorway, where she had been standing, watching the brunette work for the last five minutes or so.

"It's going," Emily groaned, offering the blonde a small, tired smile as she glanced at her watch. "When do you think the guys are going to be back?"

"Reid called about twenty minutes ago, so they should be back any time now. Hotch just called in, said they were leaving Michelle Turner's parents' house. ETA thirty minutes."

"So I have enough time for coffee," Emily sighed. "Excellent."

JJ smirked. "I did some asking around, the LEOs told me that there's a good little place about a block down if you want to make a run for it."

Emily whimpered at the thought of real coffee. She'd been drinking the precinct's typically awful mix all afternoon, and a decent cup was sounding damn near orgasmic at this point. "You want anything?" she asked, her question signifying that she was indeed going to make a run.

JJ cocked her head to the side and openly appraised Emily, letting her gaze rake up the brunette's body inch-by-inch, gliding over soft curves and intimate valleys as she sucked her lower lip between her teeth. She smiled as she focused for the space of a few heartbeats on the brunette's lips before finally meeting molten chocolate eyes. She nodded. "I guess," she answered, her casual acceptance offset by the distinctly smoky tone of her voice. "You know what I like, surprise me."

Emily laughed and shook her head before looking up through her lashes at the teasing blonde. "My god, Jennifer."

JJ arched a brow, feigning innocence. "What?"

Emily just shook her head again, indicating that she was not going to respond, and made her way across the small space for the door. She paused beside JJ and leaned in close, lowering her voice so that only they would hear. "Someday soon, I hope to learn everything you like, and I look forward to surprising you more than you will ever know."

JJ's next breath escaped on a ragged exhale. "My god, Emily."

Emily smirked, knowing that she had won this round. "But, for now… coffee. Be back in a jiffy!" she called over her shoulder, putting a little extra strut into her step as she could feel the hungry weight of JJ's eyes glued to her ass.

"Emily!" JJ's voice called after her.

She smiled and turned to face the blonde. "Yeah?"

JJ just shook her head and threw herself into motion, quickly closing the gap between herself and Emily. "I'll come with you."

Emily smiled and pushed the glass front door of the precinct open with her right hand as she ushered the blonde forward with a gallant wave of her left. "After you, then."

"Such a gentleman," JJ teased as she walked through the door.

Emily, hyper-aware of the eyes upon them, opted to say nothing as she followed JJ down to the sidewalk. She immediately took the outside track, placing herself between JJ and the street, and she found herself fighting the urge to reach out and hold the blonde's hand. When they reached the corner coffee shop, like before, she moved ahead of the younger woman to get the door, smiling shyly as JJ walked past her with a grin.

Emily followed JJ into line and stood closer to the blonde than would normally be appropriate as she placed a discrete hand onto the small of the younger woman's back. After having spent hours reading through gruesome reports, looking at even more nightmarish photographs, she found herself immeasurably calmed by JJ's presence.

JJ turned to smile at Emily and relaxed into the touch upon her back, saying without words how much the contact was welcomed. They made their way toward the registers with slow, halting half-steps and when they reached the front of the line JJ rattled off the team's typical orders while Emily pulled her wallet out of her pocket to pay.

Six white cups were distributed between two cardboard trays, and before long they found themselves back in the small, cramped briefing room at the back of the Fenbrook Police Station. Their brief escape had reenergized them both more than the caffeine they were now drinking; and Emily leaned back in her chair and smiled as she watched JJ pass off the cups to their friends as they returned 'home' from their afternoon excursions.



Hotch took a long drink from his coffee as he settled back in his chair. "Reid, Morgan, let's start with you two. What did you find at the scene?"

Reid waved a deferential hand at Morgan who nodded and took another small sip of his coffee before filling the team in on what the two of them had found. "Not a whole lot, really. It's secluded, which is perfect for a body dump, no houses or other buildings around the area where people might see something. The closest building of any kind is about a mile up the road in either direction. We stopped and talked with the owners of the two buildings, one is a document printing company and the other is empty – used to be some sort of a textile plant."

"Video surveillance at the printers?" Hotch asked.

Morgan shook his head. "Negative for the outside of the building that faces the street. There's a camera in the back where they load up the trucks – but nothing that is going to be of any use to us. The empty building is obviously useless to us as well. Because of the remoteness of the site, and the fact that you have to drive over two different dirt roads to get there – I'd say our unsub is a local, or has at least lived or worked here at one point. These roads are difficult to find, only somebody familiar with the area would even know they're there."

Hotch nodded. "Good. Emily?"

Emily cleared her throat and stood to approach the board as she addressed the team. "There wasn't really anything useful for forming a profile from the first five victims, but we knew that flying up. Now, the last three are more interesting. Toxicology reports on all of them were negative. Doesn't rule out the possibility of the unsub using drugs to abduct and or subdue the women, but at their time of death their systems were clear," she shared.

"Now," Emily continued, waving a hand at the board behind her, "what was interesting is that beyond the bruising we'd expect to find in cases of sexual assault, all three of the most recent victims presented with crushed hyoids, which we know is most often seen in manual strangulations carried out with an extreme amount of force. The cold weather helped preserve evidence on the last two victims and from the identifications we were able to get a little bit more," she explained as she looked down at the eight by ten glossies littering the tabletop.

"From the missing persons report Rebecca Holland's roommate filed, we know she was going out to meet a man she met through Craigslist. I had Garcia run a cross-comparison of users who accessed her ads with those who accessed Michelle Turner's ads and she came up with twelve similarities."

"Was Turner turning tricks too?" Morgan asked.

Emily shook her head. "No. Her ads were for the usual – selling furniture, books, etc."

"Nothing remotely escort related?" Rossi asked for clarification.

"Not that I could find. Garcia is tearing through her hard drive remotely as we speak, but for now I'm going to have to say no. Hard to say how long he kept them because we can't get a pinpoint on when, exactly, they were dumped, but both Turner and Holland showed signs of sexual abuse. No DNA, though. He was careful."

Hotch nodded thoughtfully. "The families were appropriately shocked, distraught, upset. Both said there had been no indications of trouble. As far as either of them knew, neither woman was in a relationship."

Emily nodded. "There was no evidence left on the bodies, we only got IDs on the last two because they both had prints in the system. Holland got picked up for prostitution and Turner was a teacher. All the bodies were clean – no clothes, wallets, purses, phones, nothing that could be used as a means of identification which means he has at least a working knowledge of basic forensics."

"So, give me a profile," Hotch spurred the team on.

"Local," Morgan offered. "Either by living or working in the area."

"Male," Reid piped up, stating the obvious. "Strong. Works out. The bodies were a good three hundred feet off the road. A car couldn't have gotten down there which means he had to carry them."

"Most likely has a background with law enforcement," Emily added. "Or, at the very least, has an understanding of crime scene procedures, how evidence is collected, and so on. The bodies were too clean."

"Mid thirties to late forties," Morgan chimed in. "More than likely has been picked up for assault or something similar in the past. Either domestic violence or even a bar fight. He has a temper."

"Manual strangulation is personal, so he feels an extreme hatred toward these women for some reason," Emily added.

Reid flexed his eidetic memory as he said, "If these are his only victims, something may happened around seventeen, eighteen months ago to set him off. Some kind of a trigger. Divorce? Bad break up?"

"Death of a girlfriend or wife?" Rossi mused.

"Possibly," Emily agreed. She looked ready to say something else when her phone started ringing. She reached for it, glanced at the screen, and put the caller onto speaker. "Hey Garcia, you're on speaker. What do you have for me?"

"Is everybody there?" Garcia asked.

"Hey Baby Girl," Morgan greeted.

"Hey hot stuff, you miss me?" the technical analyst cooed.

"Garcia," Hotch prodded.

"Sorry, sir. Work now, flirt later. Right girls?" she teased.

"Penelope," Emily warned.

"Okay! Geez. You will be so much easier to deal with once you finally get…"

"GARCIA!" JJ and Emily yelled.

A melodious giggle was their only response before Penelope flipped whatever internal switch she had that made her flip between playful and professional, and got down to business. "I ran those twelve accounts that accessed ads posted by both of our last two victims. Three were women…"

"The profile says the unsub is male, so rule them out for now," Morgan interrupted.

"Right-O, my chocolate Adonis. Well then, that leaves lucky contestants one through nine. I'm sending their information to you now. Somebody got a laptop open?"

"I see it," JJ called out as she opened the attachment, she quickly sent the document to print. "Hold on while I grab the pages from the printer," she called out as she hurried out of the room and down the hall to where the precinct's printers were housed.

"No projection screen?" Garcia asked, sounding surprised. "How… primitive."

"Here comes JJ," Emily laughed as she watched JJ jogging back toward them with a handful of papers. She smiled at the blonde as she took her offered pages before turning her attention to what they said.

"All right, we have the information," Hotch said as the team immediately began reading through what Garcia had sent them.

"Any questions, my lovelies?" Penelope drawled, and Emily could almost picture the quirky technical analyst spinning around in her chair as she spoke.

"Where do they live?" Hotch asked as he skimmed through the brief, bulleted bios.

"Two are in New Haven, three are in Westbrook Center, three are in Old Saybrook, and one is in Essex," Garcia reported.

"Rebecca Holland lived in Saybrook Manor, and Michelle Turner lived in Essex Village," Morgan said as he set the information Garcia had sent down to flip through his notes.

"We're thirty miles from New Haven," Emily noted. "That's a hell of a drive to dump a body."

"Garcia, do any of those nine have a background in law enforcement, lab techs, EMS, or something similar?" Hotch asked.

"Yes, sir," Garcia confirmed. "Three of them do. Robert Sampson, Brett Lane, and Timothy McGregor."

"What fields?" Emily asked as she scribbled the names on the board.

"Sampson is a detective first grade in New Haven, Lane is a beat cop in Westbrook, looks like he's currently on traffic detail, and McGregor is a CSI tech – works in Old Saybrook but lives in Essex."

"Can you work your magic and find out if they're married?" Emily asked.

"But of course," Garcia replied, and the team could hear the tech guru's keyboard keys clicking rapidly. "Sampson is married, wife Jamie is a kindergarten teacher. Oooh, pretty. Wonder why he was contacting an escort? Lane is single, no history of marriage and/or divorce. And McGregor was married, but…," her voice trailed off as she typed, "it looks like his wife filed for divorce a year and a half ago."

Hotch nodded as he watched Emily finish writing the information on the board. "Any history of violence?"

"Not that I've found, but I'll keep looking, sir. Do you want me to look through all nine?"

"Yeah," Hotch answered. "Better to cover all our bases here. When you're done with that, I want you to gather everything you can find on Sampson, Lane, and McGregor and send it over when you're done."

"Will do, oh captain my captain. Go get the bad guys, my mighty, mighty crime fighters."

"You're awesome, Baby Girl," Morgan called out. "We'll talk later. Ciao."

"Okay," Hotch said, drawing the team's attention back onto himself. "JJ, you prepare a press release while the rest of us fill the local detectives in on the profile," he looked around at his team, immediately noticing the exhaustion lining Emily's face. "It's already seven, so we'll finish up here and head to the hotel for the night. I want to talk to these three, but at this point they're merely persons of interest and by the time we brief the LEOs on the profile, and then drive out to their houses it'll be after eight thirty. There's no way we'd be able to finish all three interviews tonight since Prentiss isn't cleared for the field and I don't like the idea of any of us going into one of the interviews alone, so let's give Garcia time to see what she can find and we'll interview them in the morning."

The team nodded and Emily watched as JJ shot her a quick glance before heading down the hall to the small office she'd commandeered to prepare her statement. She stood with the rest of the guys and went to stand against the front wall, preparing herself to present their profile to the local authorities.

"How you holding up?" Morgan murmured as he leaned back against the wall, crossing his arms over his chest.

"Good," Emily answered. "Why wouldn't I be?"

Morgan shrugged. "No reason. Just that, you know, you got whacked upside the head with a two-by-four not even a week ago."

Emily rolled her eyes and smirked. "Psht, doesn't even hurt."

"Yeah, whenever I have bruises that are yellow and puce – they never hurt either."

"It's not puce."

"Parts of it are," he confirmed, tilting his head to the side as he studied her face. "That bit right there, for example…" he pointed at a dark pinky-purple section of her bruise that was sandwiched between equally disgusting blue and green parts. "Really, your face is a rainbow, Prentiss. Kind of like…"

Emily scowled at him. "You make one gay joke Morgan and I will beat your ass."

Morgan laughed and held his hands up defensively. "Geez. Garcia was right, you will be so much easier to deal with once you get laid."

Emily's jaw dropped, but any further retort on her part was stifled by the influx of detectives and Hotch stepping forward to begin the briefing. "It's important to note that this is only a profile, and it's a working profile at that. From the information we have at the moment, we believe the unsub you're looking for in this case is…"

Emily stood off to the side of the hotel lobby, watching JJ as she talked with Hotch and Rossi, presumably giving them their room keys. She let her eyes trail slowly over the blonde's form, taking in the tired set of her shoulders before dropping down, lower, to appreciate the curves on display. Her ogling, however, was cut short though as she caught sight of Morgan and Reid making their way over to her.

She immediately straightened her posture and turned toward the guys. "What's up?"

Morgan hiked a brow. "You tell me," he replied vaguely as Reid looked on, slightly confused.

Emily rolled her eyes, knowing that her 'wingman' had seen her staring at JJ. "Shut up."

"Are you two fighting again?" JJ teased as she approached the group. "God, I can't take you anywhere. Okay, look, there was an issue with the rooms, but I managed to get us something."

"What kind of an issue?" Emily asked.

JJ rolled her eyes. "They only saved three for us. I had them call around, but everything else around here is booked out because of the media that's in town because of the case. So we're stuck. All the rooms have double beds, so we're just going to have to bunk up for this trip."

"Who am I supposed to share with?" Morgan asked as he watched Emily sidle in closer to JJ.

"Reid," JJ replied, holding out a little envelope containing two electronic key-cards. "Here are the keys for your guys' room."

"Why Reid? No offense, buddy."

"None taken," Read answered breezily, he was too busy studying the fresco painted on the ceiling of the hotel lobby to pay too much attention to what was being said around him. As long as he ended up in a room with a bed and a shower, he was happy.

"Well," JJ countered with a superior grin, "as the Bureau has strict regulations about agents of different genders sharing hotel rooms while on assignment, your choices are Reid, Hotch, or Rossi. If you hurry, I'm sure you can catch them before they go up."

"Mom and Dad?" Morgan whined as he looked over his shoulder to where Hotch and Rossi were waiting for an elevator, obviously in a heated discussion about something – probably the case. "Fine. Give us our key," he grumbled as he snatched the envelope out of JJ's hand.

"You're in room 304, Hotch and Rossi are in 511, and we'll be in room 743," JJ shared, holding out a business card that she'd taken from the front desk and written the information on in case they needed to call from room to room.

Morgan's look of discontent morphed into an evil-knowing grin as he looked up. "You two are sharing a room?"

"Well, yeah, genius," Emily replied. "If there are only three rooms, there are six of us, and we're the only women…"

"Well then, go get some, Prentiss." He grinned, holding his fist out for a bump.

Emily just stared at him.

"Sleep," Morgan added hastily, shoving his hand in his pocket. "Go get some sleep. We'll see you two in the morning."

Reid jumped when Derek punched him lightly in the arm to get his attention, and he offered JJ and Emily a sheepish smile and a soft, "Good night, girls," before he turned and followed Morgan to the elevators with a, "Hey! Wait up! You didn't give me a key!"

Emily rolled her eyes at the pair as she watched Morgan hold the door open for Reid. She reached down for the handle of her bag as she turned toward JJ. "You ready, then?"

JJ nodded and grabbed her own bag, silently following Emily toward the elevators. This was not the first time that they had shared a room while on a case, but there was an added level of unease, no, anticipation about the situation now that they were, for lack of a better description, dating. "Are you okay with this?" she asked as she studied Emily's reflection in the burnished brass of the elevator doors.

Emily turned to JJ and smiled. "Of course."

"Good," JJ murmured.

The elevator doors opened before them with a quiet ping and Emily immediately placed her hand over the doors, holding them open for JJ to enter the car first. As soon as JJ was inside, she followed suit, and soon the car was on the way up to the seventh floor. Once again, as the doors slid open, she placed her arm over the gap to allow JJ to exit before her, and as she followed the blonde down the typically beige and hunter green hallway she gave herself a little pep-talk.

You can do this, Prentiss. No problem. You promised Hotch that when we are out in the field that you would conduct yourself in a professional manner. You are a professional. Just because she has the most amazing body and the sweetest tasting lips you've ever been blessed enough to kiss, you can and will control yourself.

She smiled at JJ when the blonde stopped in front of the door to their room and looked at her. Professional, Prentiss. Be a goddamn professional, she lectured herself as she followed JJ into the room.

Routine dictated she leave her bag beside the small closet just inside the door, before she walked more fully into the room. She froze mid-step as her keen profiler's eyes took in the room's furnishings. Not that it took any sort of profiling skill to see the immediate problem with their accommodations.


There was only one bed.

Part 13

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