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Take My Hand and Show Me the Way
Part One

By mel

 

13

JJ spotted the error as soon as she entered the room. "Goddamn," she muttered under her breath. When the manager had told her that there were three rooms left, she had specifically asked if each of those rooms was a double and he had assured her they were.

This was not a double.

"I… uhm…" JJ stuttered as she ran a frustrated hand through her slightly messy hair. "It was supposed to have two beds, Em. I'm sorry. And the hotel is booked solid, I got the last three rooms available."

Emily drew a deep, calming breath and forced herself to smile – albeit a little tightly – at the obviously flustered blonde. "It's okay, Jen. Really. We can behave ourselves, right?"

JJ licked her lips and gave Emily a small, barely perceptible nod. "Define 'behave'?" she asked with a wry smile.

Emily felt herself smiling at the absolutely adorable expression on JJ's face and chuckled softly under her breath as she crossed the space separating them until she was able to gather JJ in her arms. "How about…" she murmured, pressing her lips to the deliciously tempting curve where JJ's neck and shoulder met, "first base?"

JJ groaned even as she relaxed into Emily. "First?" she asked, the single word falling from her lips on a ragged, disbelieving breath.

Emily smiled and brushed her lips up the column of JJ's throat to kiss her chastely. "Mmm," she affirmed softly. "If we were to go much further than that, I doubt I would be able to stop myself," she whispered as she nuzzled JJ's cheek with her nose. "And that would not be professional."

"I hate being professional," JJ muttered petulantly.

Emily smiled. "I know. But we are. And I really do want to take you out on a date before I make love to you."

JJ sighed and closed her eyes as she rested her forehead against the unblemished half of Emily's. "You know you don't have to be concerned with protecting my virtue," she replied, half seriously, half teasingly.

Emily chuckled. "Well, a girl can always hope…" she let her voice trail off as she watched JJ smile. "I want to do this right, Jennifer," she murmured as she tightened her hold on the blonde's hips.

I'd really rather you just do me right, JJ thought as she took a slow, deep breath to try and calm her libido. "Emily," the brunette's name spilled from her lips on a sigh sounding both pleading and resigned.

Emily reached up to cradle JJ's face in her palm. She felt her heart take flight in her chest as she watched JJ's eyes flutter closed as she turned her face into the caress, rubbing her cheek against her hand before turning even more to press a slow, sensual kiss to her palm. "Can I kiss you?" Emily husked roughly.

JJ, eyes still closed, licked her lips and nodded, a slow, easy smile lifting the corners of her mouth as she tilted her head invitingly toward Emily, her lips parted slightly in expectation. An expectation that was met with the lightest touch of lips as the brunette's fit around hers perfectly in a soft, reverent kiss. She moaned softly into the kiss as she felt Emily's left hand slide around her hip to pull her in closer. "Em," she whimpered between kisses.

"Mmm," Emily hummed as she released her hold on the blonde's jaw and moved to take the younger woman more fully into her arms. Her right hand settled between JJ's shoulder blades, drawing their upper bodies together. "Jennifer."

JJ lifted her chin and reclaimed the brunette's lips in another kiss that was again soft and reverent, as she stepped in closer still, reaching up to thread her fingers through dark silk, scratching lightly at Emily's scalp as she ran her tongue over the plump bottom lip captured between her own.

Emily was helpless to rebuff the intrusion and obligingly opened her mouth, letting her own tongue slip out between her lips to dance and mingle with JJ's in light, playful touches between their now parted mouths. Breaths came hot and shallow as they tasted each other and smoldering dark eyes stared longingly into stormy blue, and when their mouths came together again the kiss was neither soft nor reverent. It was deep, crushing, and undeniably hungry.

Emily felt her blood boil as JJ's lips parted under her own and she groaned as she felt the blonde's hungry tongue seeking entrance to her mouth, which she immediately granted. All altruistic notions of waiting, of courting, of wooing faded into the background as JJ's hands tangled themselves tighter in her hair, pulling her closer, forcing their mouths open wider until the kiss was simply one long fusion of lips as their tongues stroked, massaged, and dueled with each other.

Fuck professionalism, Emily thought as she gave herself over to Jennifer's touch. She returned JJ's passionate kisses fervently and as she felt JJ's hands tug lightly at her hair, sending a current of desire through her body, she accepted the fact that her plan of waiting to taste all of JJ, waiting to have her, to love her, was nothing more than a monumentally stupid idea.

JJ moaned into the kiss as Emily's fingers dug into her hip, pulling her closer until their bodies were fused together as tightly as their mouths. She gasped for air between kisses and was surprised when her back came into contact with the wall separating the bedroom from the bathroom. "Emily," she moaned as the brunette's body pressed into hers, each of their curves fitting together perfectly as Emily's thigh slid between her own. "Fuck yes," she whimpered as she rolled her hips forward to eagerly meet Emily's slow, rocking thrust.

Emily growled appreciatively as she felt JJ grind down onto her thigh and she ran her lips over the line of the blonde's jaw to nip and suck at her pulse point. "You are so beautiful," she murmured between hot, heavy kisses as she slid her hands up JJ's body to palm her breasts possessively through the smooth material of her blouse.

JJ felt her eyes roll back in her head as Emily thumbs began brushing back and forth over her nipples even as she began moving down her throat on a string of wet, hungry kisses. "Emily," she groaned as she turned her head to the side, offering the brunette more flesh to consume.

"Mmm," Emily hummed as she discovered a particularly sensitive spot on JJ's clavicle.

JJ gasped as her body responded to Emily's touch and she slid her hands down the brunette's body to dip her fingers under the hem of the older woman's shirt. She felt herself flood at the low moan that escaped Emily's lips as she began stroking and grabbing at her flushed, heated skin as she rocked herself against the thigh that was flexed against her. She tightened her hold on Emily's hips as she shifted ever so slightly to press her leg between Emily's, using that grip to pull the brunette forward until she was able to pull the brunette into a steady rhythm with her.

"So good," JJ murmured as Emily ground into her. "God, Em," she groaned. "Kiss me."

Emily whimpered and eagerly moved her mouth higher to reclaim JJ's lips in a deep, searing kiss. "Put your arms around my neck," she rasped as she lifted JJ's left leg up to her hip.

JJ moaned as did as Emily instructed. She giggled when she felt herself suddenly lifted into the air and she immediately wrapped her legs around the older woman's waist. They fell onto the bed in a tangle of arms and legs and their kisses grew slower, more purposeful as their hands roamed, exploring new terrain, memorizing curves and valleys.

Emily maneuvered herself between JJ's legs and rocked her hips forward as she abandoned the blonde's mouth to lay a line of heavy kisses over her jaw to her hear. "I want you Jennifer," she husked, rolling her hips forward for emphasis.

JJ licked her lips as the rough, needy timbre of the brunette's voice caused the vast majority of moisture in her body to relocate to a location further south. "So take me," she replied breathlessly.

Emily whimpered and pushed herself up to her knees, sliding her hands under the hem of JJ's shirt. She moved her hands upwards with a slow, teasing deliberateness that had the blonde writhing under her. She moved slowly higher, the hem of JJ's shirt collecting at her wrists, until her fingertips were just brushing the underside of JJ's breasts, and it was then that the sharp, piercing tone of the communications liaison's phone ringing shattered the lustful fog that had enveloped them.

"Shit," Emily murmured as she stopped what she was doing to rest her head upon JJ's shoulder. "Jennifer," she husked plaintively. "Please let it go."

JJ closed her eyes and groaned. Her body was alive, tingling with the electric current of promised ecstasy, and the last thing she wanted to do was stop what they were doing to answer the phone. But she, they, had a job to do and what they wanted really wasn't important at the moment. "You know I can't," JJ whispered as she wiggled out from under Emily to retrieve her phone that was on the dresser. "Jareau," she answered, wincing at the roughness she could hear in her voice.

"JJ, it's Hotch. We have another body. Downstairs in ten, we're all going to the scene."

"Emily?" she asked as she looked over at the brunette who was sitting up on the bed and looking at her with such absolute longing that she felt her heart skip a beat.

"She can come too. We'll figure the rest out once we're on the road."

"Yes, sir," JJ murmured into the already dead phone.

Across the room, Emily ran a hand through her hair. "Hotch?"

JJ licked her lips and nodded. "Yeah. Another body. He said for you to come too."

Emily nodded. "I'm sorry."

"For what?"

Emily waved a hand at the direction of the wall she had pinned JJ against and then back to the bed she was sitting on. "This. Earlier. Starting that, it was…"

JJ could see the doubt beginning to build in Emily's expressive brown eyes and knew that she needed to stop it before it could manifest into something more. "It was wonderful," she interrupted as she crossed back to where Emily was perched stiffly upon the foot of the bed. "It was," she repeated as she ran her finger over the brunette's lips.

Emily smiled shyly and nodded as she pushed herself up off the bed and onto her feet. "Thank you," she murmured as she pulled JJ into a firm embrace.

JJ looped her arms over Emily's shoulders and tucked her face into the crook of the older woman's neck as she relaxed into the older woman's arms. "We need to go," she whispered as she remained where she was, unwilling to leave the safety and warmth of Emily's arms.

Emily sighed and squeezed JJ gently. "I know," she replied as she relaxed her arms and released the younger woman. "Lord knows we don't want to be the last ones downstairs. Morgan would have a field day."

JJ licked her lips and nodded, knowing full well how much fun Morgan would have teasing them. "Right. Well," she drew a deep breath, "let's go get this over with."

Emily ran a soft hand over JJ's jaw, smiling almost sadly at the blonde before she accepted their fate with a barely audible sigh and went to go check her appearance in the bathroom mirror. She smirked as she looked herself over and reached into her toiletry kit for her hairbrush. "I look like I just…"

"Hmm?" JJ asked as she sidled in next to the brunette. A smirk tweaked her lips as she took in Emily's bedraggled appearance and she instinctively knew what the other woman had been about to say. She looks like she's just been fucked, she thought, her eyes roaming over mussed hair, dark eyes black with need, flushed cheeks, and kiss swollen lips.

"Never mind," Emily chuckled as she ran her brush through her hair before reapplying her lipstick that had been effectively kissed off. She smiled as she watched JJ go through the same routine beside her and, once they were both presentable, she gathered their coats.

JJ gave the brunette a warm smile as she took her coat. She reached out and ran the pad of her index finger over Emily's lips, lingering for a moment on the soft flesh to feel the warmth of the brunette's breath cascading over her skin before she leaned in and claimed her lips in a promise of a kiss. "Soon," she whispered as she pulled away.

Emily licked her lips and nodded. "Soon," she repeated, tilting her head to the side as she ran the back of her hand over the line of JJ's jaw. She took a slow, deep breath to clear her head and offered JJ a small smile as she backed away. "You're sure Hotch said he was okay with me joining the team?" she asked as she opened the door to their room.

"That's what he said," JJ answered as she led the way into the hall. "Thanks."

"No problem," Emily replied as she pulled the door closed behind her, not trusting it to close tightly on its own. She followed JJ down the hall toward the elevators and placed a protective hand at the small of the younger woman's back as they waited.

JJ turned her head toward Emily and smiled. "I like this," she said cryptically as she rocked her body back into the older woman's touch.

"Like… what?" Emily asked as she began rubbing her thumb over the thin material of JJ's shirt.

JJ shrugged. "You touching me."

Emily groaned as ideas of the touching she could have been doing flashed through her mind. "Jennifer."

"What?!" JJ laughed. "I do like it."

"Me too," Emily replied softly as the elevator opened in front of them. She placed a protective hand over the doors as they entered and retreated to the back wall of the car as she watched JJ punch the button for the lobby.

Memories of their encounter only moments before flooded both of their minds as they rode down to the lobby in companionable silence. Emily again held the door for JJ, her chivalrous side now on full display, and she instantly spotted Morgan and Reid standing off to the side of the twin double doors at the front of the hotel.

"Hey guys," she greeted their teammates casually as she slipped into her parka. Out of the corner of her eye she watched JJ do the same, and she couldn't help the slow, easy smile that tweaked her lips as she watched the blonde flip her hair up out of the collar.

Morgan laughed. "Damn, Prentiss."

Emily snapped her attention away from JJ, who was now giving her a sly, knowing smile, and back to her partner. "What?"

"You're looking at her like she's a piece of meat and you haven't eaten in three years."

Emily blushed. "It hasn't been three years," she muttered.

JJ grinned, easily catching on to Morgan's innuendo. "Oh really? How long?"

"I'd assume she had some kind of meat with her dinner last night," Reid offered helpfully. "I'll be right back. I'm going to use the restroom before we head out," he informed the group before he took off for the public restrooms on the opposite side of the lobby.

Emily rolled her eyes and turned to her partner. "So, was everything copacetic with your room?"

"Sure." Morgan shrugged. "Except Reid's going to be sleeping in the bathtub."

"Why the hell is Reid going to be sleeping in the tub?" Emily asked.

"There's only one bed." Morgan smirked.

JJ frowned. "What? They messed up your reservation too?!"

"Noooo," Morgan drawled, a sly smirk tweaking his lips as he processed what it was that JJ hadn't said. "I was just messing with you. But why is it that I'm thinking your room really does only have one bed?"

JJ blushed in what Emily thought was the most adorable way and looked at the brunette, her eyes clearly pleading for help. "Em?"

Emily laughed. "I don't know what you're talking about," she answered, matching his smirk with one of her own as she stepped closer to JJ and placed a hand on her shoulder.

"Riiiight," Morgan chuckled. "Breaking regulations already, I like it."

"No regulations were broken," JJ assured him, her embarrassment easing as she settled into Emily and Morgan's teasing banter.

"Yeah," Emily agreed. "Damn phone rang. Hotch totally cockblocked me," she added under her breath.

Morgan threw his head back and laughed loudly as he clapped his hands joyfully. "What until I tell Garcia – she'll be so stoked her evil plan worked!"

"Wait," Emily held a hand up.

"Yeah," JJ leveled her gaze on Morgan who shifted uncomfortably under her stare. "What do you mean, 'Garcia's evil plan'? Did she change the reservation?"

"I… I… uhm…" Morgan stuttered, his eyes widening as he realized exactly what he had said.

"Everybody here?" Hotch's voice rang out and the trio of agents turned to find their boss and Rossi approaching.

"Thank god," Morgan muttered.

Hotch surveyed the group. "Where's Reid?"

"Right here!" the young genius called out in a chipper voice as he strode quickly across the lobby toward their group.

"Right," Hotch nodded. "Well then, let's go."

The team nodded and fell into line behind the two older men. Emily leaned in close to Morgan as the group bottlenecked at the entry doors and whispered, "We are not done with this conversation, Morgan."

Morgan just turned and blew her a kiss. "Oh please, like you're really upset about the outcome," he teased as he threw his coat on and walked out into the night.

"Prentiss, JJ, you're with me. Rossi, Morgan, and Reid will take the other car," Hotch called out as they all crossed the darkened parking lot.

 

14

Whereas not even thirty minutes ago JJ and Emily had been aware of little else outside their intimate bubble, now they were once again locked-in to the case. Both of them were a little surprised at how natural it was to shift from intimate to professional, but both were also more than a little relieved to find that they were able to turn one off one aspect of their lives in order to focus on the other.

Hotch was behind the wheel of their SUV which was following the team's other vehicle that was being piloted by Morgan since he knew the way out to the scene the best. JJ was riding shotgun, staring out the windshield into the blackness that surrounded them, and Emily was in the back seat, staring just as blankly out her window, as they paid close attention to the Unit Chief who was relaying what information he did have regarding the scene to the entire team via speaker phone. What worried all of them, beyond the fact that this victim was found in a much closer timeframe to the last one than the unsub's established pattern would suggest, meaning that his behavior was most definitely escalating, was that this body was dumped right under their noses. Somehow he had found a way past the patrol stationed near the secluded beach.

"What about Prentiss?" Morgan's voice crackled over the phone.

"What about Prentiss?" Emily challenged loudly.

"Em," JJ warned.

"Kids, knock it off," Rossi interjected.

"Yes, sir," Emily and Morgan grumbled.

Hotch looked up to glance at Emily in the rearview mirror as they bounced along the rough road. He didn't like the fact that he'd told her to come along, but the idea of wasting time, now that they were really racing against the clock, to either take her to the precinct or else double back to pick her up after they visited the scene, seemed unnecessary and possibly entirely foolhardy. He needed his team, all of them, to go over the information they had as soon as possible – and that left him with no choice but to let her ride out too.

He cleared his throat as he returned his attention to the road. "Technically she's already out in the field, so I'll leave it to her to decide whether or not she's up for the trek down to the body. She can either join the team or wait at the cars with the LEOs. Her choice."

"I'm going with you guys," Emily announced, quickly taking advantage of the opportunity afforded to her. She had already had it with sitting back and watching the team do their thing, she wanted to help.

"That's it then," Hotch stated, his tone final. "ETA three minutes. We hit the ground running."

Once the connection was lost JJ turned in her seat to level her serious blue eyes onto Emily. "You're sure?"

Emily smiled and winked. "I am. I'll be fine, Jayj."

JJ held Emily's gaze for a few moments longer, reading the unspoken assurances in Emily's dark eyes, before she licked her lips and nodded. "Okay," she murmured, almost to herself.

Hotch let a rare smile tweak his lips as he watched the two women interact. He knew from the tenor of JJ's voice when she'd answered his call earlier that he had interrupted them at a rather intimate moment, but he was pleased with the way they were handling themselves now. "She'll be fine, JJ," he murmured, glancing over at her quickly, effectively breaking up the tension that had built between the two women. "We'll all keep an eye on her."

JJ sighed and nodded. "I know."

Emily shook her head as she listened to Hotch and JJ talk about her as if she couldn't hear them and leaned forward to place a reassuring hand on JJ's shoulder. She gave the blonde's shoulder a quick squeeze for reassurance before she sat back in her seat and pulled her gloves out of her pocket. It wasn't a particularly cold night for Connecticut in late March, but she knew that the winds that incessantly flowed in off the ocean would make the thirty-four degree ambient temperature feel much, much colder.

JJ was already unbuckling her seat belt as they slowed to a stop and the moment the truck was in park she was already opening her door. She climbed out of the SUV and took a deep breath, allowing the rich, briny scent of the wet ocean air permeate every cell in her body. She smiled at Emily as the brunette motioned her forward. "Such a gentleman," she murmured teasingly as she passed close, a quiet laugh bubbling in her throat as she heard Emily chuckle.

"Jennifer," Emily warned as she kept a wary eye on their surroundings, alert for any threat that might lie concealed in the night. She might not be cleared for fieldwork yet, but there was no way she was going to let anybody or anything anywhere near JJ if she could help it.

They made their way down a narrow path cut into the bluff in a neat, single-file line and JJ smiled at the protective hand she could feel hovering just below her elbow, waiting to catch her should she slip and fall. Under normal circumstances she would have been offended but, as it was Emily's hand, she was simply touched. Somehow it just felt right for the brunette to protect her.

The team arranged themselves around the ring of light that flooded over the body which was nestled in the side of a sand bank a few hundred feet from the water, each of their eyes seeing something different, each of their brilliant minds drawing different conclusions. Emily, ever the protector, placed herself behind JJ, so that she blocked both the wind flowing in off the cold Atlantic waters and any unforeseen attack that might spring out of the dark. The group was quiet as they ran their eyes over the scene laid out before them noting the position of the body relative to the road, the condition of the body, the fact that her fingernails were painted but not her toes, each detail filed away in their impressive minds as they tried to piece together what they were seeing into something that might help them catch this unsub.

Damp sand was caked to her body, almost as if Mother Nature were trying to protect her dignity from prying eyes. She was naked, matching the earlier bodies, and seemed to fit their general age range. She was nearly flawless in her nakedness, her body unmarred by signs of outright torture, bullets, or knife wounds. She was bruised, she looked like she had put up a good fight – which they all silently congratulated her on – and her dark hair was damp, matted, and plastered across her forehead.

"She's wet. It didn't rain today and her body is well away from the tide. Did he hose her off before he dumped her here?" Reid wondered aloud.

"Be a good way to get rid of any trace evidence," Emily said as her eyes dissected the scene before her. "Would explain why there was nothing to be found on any of the other women."

"There is bruising evident on her throat," Hotch noted somberly.

"Consistent with manual strangulation," Rossi finished the other man's thought.

"She certainly looks like a match to the other victims," JJ murmured, her voice tinged with sadness.

"Anything we can use to find an ID?" Emily asked, turning to level her gaze on the Medical Examiner who was starting to bag the woman's hands to preserve any evidence that would be under her nails if she'd managed to scratch her attacker at any point during her ordeal.

The ME looked up and shook his head. "Nothing yet. No wallet, purse, cell – nothing that we could use to trace her. We'll run her prints as soon as we get her into the morgue, maybe she'll be somewhere in the system."

"Great," Emily groaned.

"Any estimate on a time of death?" Reid asked.

The ME nodded and looked down at his notes before quickly glancing at his watch. "Given the fact that I got her core body temperature at fifty-five degrees, the fact that she's still in full rigor, and the amount of livor mortis evident, I'd say it was sometime this morning."

Emily pulled back her coat sleeve enough to glance at her watch to see that it was barely past nine thirty. "Full rigor hits around twelve hours post mortem?"

The tech nodded. "Normally speaking, yes. But the cooler ambient temperature would slow the process down."

"So, anywhere between…" Reid thought aloud "…five and ten this morning?"

The ME nodded. "Sorry I can't be more precise."

"No, this is good," Hotch assured him. "We know the unsub killed this woman before we even arrived."

"But we had been contacted," JJ interjected.

"Maybe he knew we were coming up?" Morgan offered, looking around the group to see what they thought.

Hotch nodded thoughtfully to himself and shot a quick glance over his left shoulder at Rossi who met his gaze and gave the Unit Chief a quick nod of agreement. As usual, they were thinking the same thing. "Send the prints to our technical analyst when you have them," he told the ME, holding out a card that had Garcia's information on it.

The ME frowned, but gave a small shrug. "Sure thing. We good to move her now?"

"Yeah," Rossi answered as he gave the girl one final once-over before he turned to make his way back up the bluff to their cars.

"Thank you," JJ murmured to the ME as she watched the rest of her team disappear without giving the doctor or the techs, who materialized out of the darkness to help, a second glance. As usual, they were lost in their minds and had completely forgotten about the simple rules of etiquette that, when followed, made the locals more agreeable to their whims.

Emily, who was waiting for JJ to go before her, also gave the Medical Examiner a small smile of thanks before she fell into line behind JJ and followed the team up the hill to their cars. They dispersed themselves between their waiting SUVs and before long the matching black Yukons were en route to the precinct where they would reassemble to run through what new information they gathered from this latest victim.


Emily ran a hand through her hair as she rocked back in her chair and looked at the board the team had assembled. They had been back at the precinct now for an hour or so, and so far they were still trying to get a handle on what they had and who their unsub might be. The pictures of each of the non-skeletonized victims were lined across the top of the space with little notes scribbled under each. They knew they had nine victims now, but the first three were too badly decomposed for them to be able to ID without dental records – and that would mean that they would need to have some idea of who the women were so that way they would know which records to compare to. So, for all intents and purposes, they had four vics they could work with.

And normally that was enough.

"This guy is too good getting rid of evidence," Emily muttered as she stared at the picture of their latest, still unidentified, victim.

"Has to be some kind of law enforcement officer," Morgan finished his partner's thought. "Crime scene tech, something."

Reid pursed his lips and tapped them with his index finger as he crunched and re-crunched the data presented to him. The geographical data just wasn't adding up like it normally did. His eyes danced from picture to picture and then to the map they'd tacked up onto the wall. "There's no pattern," he muttered.

"There is always a pattern," Emily argued. "We just haven't found it yet."

"The initial conditions are unknown," Reid countered.

Emily nodded. "We know the condition of the bodies and where they were found, start there and work it backwards," she offered.

JJ, Morgan, Hotch, and Rossi watched the two brains began bouncing ideas off of each other as if they were in a competition to complete a proof of some abstract mathematical problem. JJ looked at Emily who was now pacing in front of the board pointing and gesturing, and smiled at the brunette's sexy display of intelligence before she turned her attention to the rest of the group.

"When you spoke to Garcia on the way here, did she say if she found any data on the two knowns' cell phone records?" Morgan asked.

JJ shook her head. "Not yet. She said she had some other things she was going to look into," she explained as she pulled her phone out of her pocket to read the message that just came through. "She just got the prints on the latest Jane Doe from the ME."

"Good," Hotch murmured and Rossi, who was sitting next to him, nodded his agreement.

The team looked up as the door to the conference room swung open slowly to admit one of the local detectives. "Detective Swartley," JJ addressed the man. "Is there something we can help you with?"

The detective nodded. "Agent Jareau, there are a handful of reporters out in the lobby asking for details about the latest victim."

Emily cringed as she watched JJ's eyes flare.

"How did the media find out about it?" JJ asked, her voice eerily calm while her eyes flashed fire.

"Said they heard it on the scanner," he answered as he took a small step away from the communications liaison. He knew the look in her eyes, it was the same one his wife gave him before he would end up sleeping on the couch.

"JJ," Hotch interjected. "Just go give them the standard 'no new information at this time' spiel and then get back here."

"Yes, sir," JJ growled as she stomped out of the conference room.

"Wow," Swartley murmured, running a hand through his hair as he offered the rest of the BAU Agents a rueful smile. "I'm sorry."

"Just make sure the rest of your guys are aware of the operating procedure from now on," Hotch told him sternly.

"Yessir," Swartley nodded. "I'll make sure to let the Captain know A-SAP, sir."

Emily's phone rang as the detective was making his way out of the conference room and she gave Morgan a pointed look, which he read immediately and jumped up to close the door tightly. "Who is it?" he asked.

"PG, you're on speaker," Emily answered the phone.

"Who do you love?" Garcia's typically happy voice carried out of the speaker.

"You know we love you, Baby Girl," Morgan replied playfully as he rounded the table to sit back down in his chair. "Whatcha got for us?"

"Of course you do," Garcia cooed. "Okay, so I ran the latest set of prints through the system and got a hit."

"That was fast," Emily said as she grabbed a pen so she could start adding to the board.

"I started with local area records, instead of national since the last two victims were local. This particular Jane Doe's name is Abigail Hanson, age 32, English professor at Middlesex Community College."

"How far…" Reid started to ask but was cut off by their quirky analyst.

"Twenty six miles, Reid. Oooh," Garcia drawled as they all heard her typing away. "Princess, you're going to love this: she taught a seminar last semester on Vonnegut. Now, I am still tearing through the Craigslist database, which, by the way, I could have hacked into when I was five, but from what I can tell she has never used the site."

"Never?" Emily asked.

"That is correct, my brown-eyed girl," Garcia answered, and the team could hear keys being tapped furiously in the background. "But, she did just join an online dating service. Their system is surprisingly more secure than Craigslist, but if you give me some time I'll be able to get in and tell you who accessed her profile, made contact, etcetera."

"What about the first Jane Doe from this morning?" Hotch asked.

"Still nothing, sir," Garcia answered, her frustration with her inability to find the information evident in her tone. "The ME was able to get prints, but they're incomplete due to the…" her voice trailed off and they could all picture the grimace she was most likely wearing at the thought of the body.

"Fact that scavengers gnawed on some of her fingertips," Morgan offered helpfully.

"Yes," Garcia agreed, sounding more than a little repulsed by the idea. "Well, anyways. That's all I have for now my furry friends, I'll hit you up when I have something new. Garcia out!"

The team stared at the now silent phone for a moment before Hotch muttered, "I really need to remember to get a drug test on that girl."

Emily shot JJ a grin as she reentered the room and Morgan chuckled softly under his breath. There was something reassuring about Garcia's very Garcia-ness – a kind of reminder that though they dealt in death and destruction, there was still a reason to smile, to laugh, to embrace that which is wholesome and good. And they needed that reminder. Craved it, occasionally.

"What did I miss?" JJ asked as she scanned her friend's faces and closed the door behind herself.

"Garcia," Morgan offered, knowing that single word was explanation enough.

JJ grinned and nodded her understanding. "Sorry I missed it then. She find something?"

"An ID," Emily answered. "She's still looking for some sort of a connection though."

"How'd it go out there?" Hotch asked the communications liaison.

JJ shrugged. "Fine. I did confirm that there was another body found, because there was really no way to deny it, but I left the rest of the details with the usual 'this is a pending investigation' yada, yada, yada. They're all heading back to their hotels now, but I'm betting they'll be back first thing in the morning."

"Sounds good," Hotch replied as he watched Emily try and stifle a yawn. He glanced up at the clock on the wall above the door and sighed. "It's already nearing midnight and there really isn't anything more we can do tonight. Let's head back to the hotel, get some sleep, and we'll meet up in the lobby at seven to get back to this. Hopefully by then Garcia will have something more for us to work with."


"So, how are you doing?" JJ asked as the elevator doors closed behind Hotch and Rossi's retreating backs and they were left alone for the first time since they'd been so suddenly been called from their room earlier.

Emily, who was leaning bodily against the back wall of the elevator, hands wrapped around the bar that ran around the cube at waist height, turned her head toward her companion and smiled. "I'm fine," she murmured. "Just tired. Long first day back, you know."

JJ nodded her understanding and smiled gently. "You know, you could have stayed back at Quantico with Garcia."

"Nah, there was no way I'd be able to function back there if you were up here with the team."

"Don't you trust my abilities as an Agent?" JJ asked, somewhat seriously, as she stepped off of the elevator which had just stopped at their floor.

"No, nothing like that," Emily answered quickly as she hurried to JJ's side. "I just… it would worry me, you being up here without me. I trust you, and your abilities; but I also know that I am protective enough of those I love to know that I would have had a very hard time being so far away from you when you were on a case."

JJ smiled at the words those I love, but didn't press. "Okay, then," she replied as she slipped their room key into the lock. "Just making sure."

Emily tried to smile but another jaw popping yawn beat it to the punch. "Sorry," she apologized.

"Don't be," JJ assured her as she unzipped her bag and pulled out the pair of faded navy blue soccer shorts and equally broken-in t-shirt she wore to sleep in. "You're tired. I'm tired. Let's just try and get some sleep."

Emily nodded and pulled her pajamas out of her own bag. "Do you want me to sleep on the couch?" she asked, motioning to the small loveseat tucked away in the corner of the room.

JJ frowned. "Why in the world would I want you to do that?" she asked as her eyes bounced from the small sofa and Emily.

Emily shrugged. "I dunno. I just thought…" her voice trailed off.

JJ smiled reassuringly and moved to take the older woman into her arms. "I want to fall asleep in your arms, Em. If that's okay with you," she added.

Emily smiled tiredly as she looped her arms loosely around the blonde. "That's definitely okay with me."

"Good," JJ grinned and leaned in to lay a quick, chaste kiss to Emily's lips before she released her so they could both get changed.

Minutes later they climbed into the bed, each of them letting out a soft sigh of contentment as their bodies relaxed into the surprisingly comfortable mattress. Emily stretched her left arm out across the pillows and JJ wasted no time sliding into the space, cuddling into Emily as she laid her head on the brunette's chest. Emily hummed softly, the sound distinctly content, as she reached across her body with her right arm to wrap it around JJ's waist and pull the blonde in closer.

"This is nice," Emily murmured as she pressed a soft, lingering kiss to JJ's forehead.

"It is," JJ agreed softly as she snuggled in closer, wrapping herself around Emily. "Sweet dreams, Em."

Emily smiled and buried her face in JJ's hair. "Sweet dreams Jennifer."

 

15

JJ came awake slowly, an easy, contented smile lifting her lips as she pulled herself in closer to Emily. Eyes still closed, she snuggled into the brunette, delighting in the rhythmic beat of the older woman's heart beneath her ear. "Mmm," she hummed softly as she squeezed the warm skin under her hand.

Emily smiled to herself as she felt JJ waking up, already anticipating the blonde's reaction. This is going to be priceless, she couldn't help thinking as JJ's fingers dug into her breast once more. Dear god that feels good, she groaned inwardly as her body reacted to the blonde's touch.

Wait, JJ thought to herself, scrunching her eyes closed tighter in concentration as she gave the captured flesh under her hand another soft squeeze. Skin? Mmm, so soft. Is that…? Awareness came a little bit faster as she opened her eyes to confirm her suspicions. Her hand had, indeed, worked its way under Emily's shirt as they'd slept. Which would have been fine, except for the particular body part that it had decided to wrap itself around.

"Hello," Emily chuckled as she placed her hand over JJ's, giving the blonde's hand a teasing squeeze through the material of her shirt. "Nice sleep?"

"Ohmygod," JJ groaned, an embarrassed blush setting her cheeks instantly aflame. "I'm so sorry," she apologized as she moved to withdraw her hand from underneath Emily's shirt.

Emily had expected the reaction JJ was giving her and she refused to let the blonde's hand go. "I like that there," she murmured, squeezing both of their hands over her breast indicatively. "Don't you?" she teased.

JJ groaned and nodded. "You're mean," she muttered. "Of course I do. How long have I been fondling you while I slept?"

Emily smiled and pressed a slow, soft kiss to the blonde's brow. "I dunno. I woke up a few minutes before you did," she shared as she released JJ's hand.

JJ smiled when she felt Emily release her hand but opted to leave it where it was. "What time is it?" she asked, squeezing the firm mound under her hand as she lifted her chin to press a soft kiss to the underside of Emily's jaw.

Emily groaned as her body instinctively arched into JJ's touch. She turned to glance at the alarm clock on the nightstand and groaned. "We have about an hour before we're supposed to meet up with the team."

"So not enough time for this then," JJ murmured, giving Emily's breast one last squeeze before releasing it and pulling her hand out from under the brunette's shirt. "Sorry."

"It's okay," Emily assured JJ gently as she rolled them over so that she was on top of her. "I'll just need a really, really good, good-morning kiss to make up for it," she teased.

JJ smiled, her blue eyes twinkling with joy as she looked up into Emily's playful gaze. "You think so, do you?"

Emily smiled as she dipped her head down to brush her lips ever so softly across JJ's. "I do," she breathed as she continued to brush her lips lightly back and forth over the blonde's.

JJ laughed and reached up to tangle her fingers in Emily's hair. "I think so too," she purred as she pulled the brunette down so that she could capture the older woman's lips in a deep, hungry, open-mouthed kiss.


The team gathered around the board in the back room at the precinct as they each nursed a generous sized cup of coffee that Morgan had stopped to pick up from the little corner shop that Emily and JJ had visited the day before. The hour was early, they were all tired, but there was an underlying energy coursing through the room as each of them knew that, with the latest body, they were really on the clock now and that they desperately needed to come up with something that would help them catch this guy.

"Okay my lovelies," Garcia's voice carried out of the speakerphone. "I kept my babies up all night and have some good news for you. So far as I can tell, Sampson has never been on Singles.net and while Lane did in fact view Abigail Hanson's profile, he never contacted her. McGregor was the only one of the three who accessed and contacted Abigail Hanson via her dating profile."

"So he's the only one with a tie to each of the last three victims," Emily muttered.

"Exactomundo," Garcia replied.

"Does he have a record?" Morgan asked.

"Indeed he does, my hunk of burning love," Penelope drawled. "Took some digging because he lived in California at the time and their system is so messy and disorganized that it makes JJ's office look clean."

"Hey," JJ interrupted. "My office is organized. It's an organized chaos. I know where everything is in there."

"And we all believe you, don't we guys?" Garcia teased. "Anyways, he was picked up in oh-seven for assault, looks like it was a bar fight and the other guy ended up to not press charges. Another instance of dropped assault charges in oh-eight, an ex-girlfriend, Tammy Weaver, claimed he beat her."

"He sounds like a real charmer," Emily muttered.

"Exactly," Garcia agreed.

"Do you have a current address for her?"

The team listened to the tapping of Garcia's keyboard. "That's a negative, sir. From what I can tell, her parents reported her missing early last year, so far she hasn't turned up."

The teams' eyes all dropped to the pile of photographs showing the skeletonized remains found on the beach.

"All right," Hotch addressed the group. "Thanks, Garcia. Let's go have a chat with Timothy McGregor. I want all hands on deck, so JJ – you're with us on this one. Emily, I'm going to have to leave you here."

Emily felt her heart drop to her stomach as she nodded her understanding. She had known that she wouldn't be going in the field during the case, especially when the team went to bring in a suspected unsub, but the idea of JJ going out to interview a potential suspect without her was terrifying. "Yes sir," she mumbled, her eyes focused on JJ.

Hotch didn't miss the fear that played across Emily's eyes as she looked at JJ but, with Emily having to stay behind, he really needed the blonde in the field on this. "I want everybody in vests," he informed the group. "Let's go."

Emily tensed as the team around her all nodded their understanding and she looked over at Morgan, who was the first to his feet, and gave the man a look that quiet clearly said, 'You bring her back to me', as he caught her eye. The small nod of understanding he gave her did little to ease the knot of worry in her gut, but it did make her feel a little bit better knowing that he would keep an eye on JJ for her. She watched as Reid and Rossi led the way out the door, quickly followed by Morgan.

"We'll be on channel one," Hotch said as he handed Emily an earpiece, which she took gratefully. "JJ-" he turned to the blonde "-we're leaving in two."

"Got it," JJ nodded and watched their stoic leader leave.

Emily pushed herself to her feet and reached out to grasp JJ's hand. "Be safe," she whispered.

"I will," JJ assured her.

Emily nodded. "I'm holding you to that, Jareau," she tried to joke, but it sounded flat even to her own ears.

JJ glanced over her shoulder through the window at the bustling precinct before she moved in closer to give the brunette a quick, reassuring kiss. "I'll be back soon," she whispered, squeezing Emily's hand reassuringly before she turned on her heel and headed out the door, her pony-tail bouncing with each step as she broke into a jog to catch up with the rest of the team.

Emily watched JJ go until she couldn't see her anymore, and only then did she close the door, blocking out the rest of the precinct. She dropped heavily into one of the chairs surrounding the table and looked back up at the board, letting her eyes roam over their thoughtfully scribbled notes. She knew from the information up there that the team was heading toward their unsub. She stared at the board, her eyes locked to the bruises around the latest women's necks, and offered up a silent prayer that McGregor would be subdued easily and that JJ would return to her unharmed.


JJ dug her phone out of her pocket as they raced toward the freeway. She glanced over at Morgan who gave her a small, reassuring grin and a wink, before she turned her attention to the phone in her hand. She began to flip it slowly, front to back and back again, as she considered whether or not to make the call. Snippits of conversations from the last few days danced around her mind, combined with the look in Emily's eyes before she left, had her pulling up the contact she needed and hitting send.

"Oracle of Quantico, speak and ye shall be heard."

"Hey, Pen," JJ greeted her friend as she turned toward the window to block out the rest of the car's occupants. "Can you do me a favor?"

"Of course, what do you need my blue-eyed girl?"

JJ smiled and leaned forward to rest her forehead against the window. "I need you to make a call for me."


Emily was pulled from her thoughts by the ringing of her cell phone. She reached blindly for the device which she'd tossed onto the table earlier and answered the call without bothering to look at the screen to see who it was.

"Prentiss."

"So, tell me about this date you're planning for our girl," Garcia stated without preamble. "She is uber-excited, by the way, so you better deliver."

Emily laughed. "Why are you calling me now to ask about this?"

"Because Jayj asked me to keep you occupied while they ran out to McGregor's place," Garcia answered honestly. "So, spill. What's the evil plan?"

"There's nothing evil about it, and I'm not telling you," Emily replied.

"Ach, my wounded heart! Why not?!"

Emily smiled knowingly. "You'll tell her."

"Will not."

Emily rolled her eyes and chuckled. "Swear to me on your file of photoshopped pictures of Morgan."

There was a pause as Garcia considered Emily's terms. "I… I… damn. Can't it be anything else?"

"Nope. Take it or leave it, PG."


Timothy McGregor's house was a small, two story farmhouse set about a quarter mile off the road. It was surrounded by lightly rolling hills that, for the moment, were still covered with snow. The house itself was small and worn. The white plank siding was in complete disrepair, faded to a dull, lifeless gray and chipped and peeling in more places than not. The shutters framing the windows across the front of the house were equally neglected; once upon a time they were most likely a rich forest green, but time, weather, and years of neglect had transformed them to a pale, mossy color.

The house had definitely seen better days.

JJ jumped out of the SUV the moment it came to a stop in Timothy McGregor's driveway and automatically reached down to check the placement of her gun on her hip as she rounded the front of the vehicle to join the rest of the guys. "What's the plan?" she asked as she watched the local officers spreading out behind them, waiting for instructions.

Hotch looked up at the house and studied it for a moment before replying, "Rossi and I will take the front door, try and talk him into coming down to the station with us peacefully for questioning. JJ, I want you, Morgan, and Reid to cover the back in case he decides to bolt. I'll instruct the LEOs to hang back and circle the property to wait for our call. I don't want too many itchy trigger fingers in there making it more dangerous than it needs to be."

JJ nodded her understanding as she watched Morgan immediately start for the garage, and glanced at the young genius. "Let's go Spence," she said, unsnapping and un-holstering her gun as she began to follow Morgan around the small, single-stall attached garage to the back door. She could hear Spence following somewhat clumsily and she hazarded a glance over her shoulder to check on the lanky Agent. "You all right?"

"Yeah." Reid nodded. "Just keep slipping on the ice."

"You want me to slow down?"

"I'm fine, just catch up to Morgan," Reid assured her as they rounded the back corner of the garage and the back of the house came into view.

JJ nodded and hurried into position near the back door. She glanced at Morgan who was on the opposite side of the opening, with Reid tucked safely behind him. "We're in position," she muttered into her mic.


"Oooooh!" Garcia squealed as Emily finished sharing her plan for her and JJ's big date.

"We're in position," JJ's voice filtered through the radio Emily was monitoring.

"Garcia," Emily whispered into her phone.

"It'll be okay, peaches," Garcia murmured as she, too, listened to her team's progress.

"Yeah." Emily nodded to herself as her stomach wound itself in knots once again.


Hotch heard JJ's report and looked over his shoulder at Rossi. "Ready?" he asked, and was answered with a tight nod to the affirmative. "All right then," he muttered as he lifted his hand to deliver three powerful knocks to the front door.

The agents all waited tensely for their suspect to answer the door. Seconds ticked into minutes and, when there was still no answer, Hotch tried again – this time calling out, "Timothy McGregor, this is the FBI."

Rossi pursed his lips as he studied the door before ducking over to look inside the house through a window caked with dirt. "Nobody's in there."


At the back of the house JJ was on guard, gun pointed at the door as she waited for a signal from Hotch. "What's taking so long?" she muttered under her breath.

"Did you hear that?" Reid asked, tilting his head to the side as he listened carefully.

JJ mimicked the other agent's posture and listened carefully. Nothing but silence greeted her and just as she was about to tell him that, she heard it. A muffled scream. She glanced at Morgan who nodded that he'd heard it too, and she immediately lifted her wrist to her mouth and reported, "Hotch, there's a woman screaming inside the house. It's faint, sounds like it might be coming from the cellar."

Hotch's answer was immediate. "Go."

She nodded and glanced back at Reid before reaching out to try the knob on the back door. Surprisingly, it turned easily under her hand. "We're in," she muttered into her mic as she pushed the door open carefully and stepped out of the way for Morgan to slide through, gun at the ready as he led the way inside.

The sound of a foot making contact with the front door echoed through the house, which seemed to shake on its foundation from the blow. She quickly cleared the kitchen, waving Reid off to the left toward what would most likely be the dining room as she headed for the hall. She shook her head at Morgan's questioning look and watched Rossi make his way quickly up the stairs to clear the second floor.

"It sounded like it was coming from underground," JJ shared softly as she started opening doors, looking for the one that would lead to the basement.

"Here we go," Morgan called out as the door he was trying refused to open. "It's locked," he shared as he looked over his shoulder at Hotch.

"Do it," the Unit chief ordered.


Emily tensed at the sound of a door being kicked open. "I wish I was there," she muttered.

"They can handle this," Garcia murmured reassuringly as she stared at the screensaver on her monitor and wished she had a visual on what was happening.


Morgan led the way down the stairs, JJ following closely behind. The moment his foot hit the ground he swept his gun and his eyes over the room. "Clear."

JJ placed a hand on the taller man's shoulder as she passed by him, pushing into the dank, wet smelling cellar as Hotch and Reid followed them down the steps. She cocked her head and listened, every cell in her body on high alert for any movement, any sound that might tell her where the woman she'd heard earlier was.

And then she heard it. A choked, desperate cry. A muffled scream – faint, but distinct.

"This way." She tilted her head as she led the group around a corner to find a door set in the wall at the far end of the unfinished basement. "There."

Morgan pushed past JJ and took the lead, closing the distance in a handful of long, powerful strides until he was able to wrap his hand around the knob. "It's locked," he growled as he took a step back and hefted his foot to kick in his second door of the day.

JJ stepped to the side to get an angle on the room beyond the door and nodded at Morgan. "Go." She tightened her grip on her gun, her finger resting comfortably on the trigger, riding that line where it would take just a fraction more pressure to actually fire the weapon, and steadied her gaze on the door as she watched Morgan deliver a solid kick just above the doorknob.

The flimsy door crashed inward on the first kick and she immediately saw a woman tied to a cot against the far wall. The woman was bruised and bloody, and her wide, terrified eyes were staring pleadingly at JJ. The woman tried to scream through the gag covering her mouth but, like before, it came out muffled and weak. How they had even heard her in the first place was an absolute miracle.

Morgan did a quick scan of the room as he regained his balance and, seeing nobody beyond the victim tied to the bed, took a few quick steps into the small, dirty space. He became so focused on the woman, that he didn't see Timothy McGregor slinking out from behind an old, decrepit bookcase on the wall to his left and stalking toward him with an old aluminum baseball bat.

But JJ did.

"FREEZE!" she shouted as she leveled her gun on the man.


Emily's fingers dug into the armrest of her chair as she listened to JJ call out. She knew that tone of voice, she had heard it many times before – it was the blonde's 'don't fuck with me' tone, and she knew what that meant. "He's there," she whispered.


Morgan whirled around at the sound of JJ's yell and immediately saw the suspect who had been trying to sneak up on him. "Put the bat down, McGregor," he ordered sternly as he, too, trained his sights on the man. "It's over."

McGregor shook his head and laughed. "No it's not."

"Drop the bat, Mr. McGregor, and put your hands on your head," JJ commanded.

McGregor's beady eyes turned to focus on JJ who was standing tall, aim unwavering as she held the man in her sights. "You're not going to shoot me, little girl," he drawled as he hefted the bat and took a challenging step toward her. "You know what I do to girls like you?" he taunted.

"Yeah." JJ nodded as she watched Morgan carefully. "But you're not going to get to me. Put the bat down, McGregor," she echoed the burly agent's earlier command.

"But I'm not done playing," he replied as he tightened his grip on the bat and tried to turn and hit Morgan with it.

Morgan saw the way McGregor re-gripped the bat and the way his hips shifted ever so slightly and knew what was coming so, as he turned toward him, he stepped into the man and caught the barrel of the bat with his left hand before it could even really begin to move. "I asked you-" he gave the bat in his hand a twist as he slipped his gun into its holster on his hip "-to put-" he ripped it out of the other man's hand, letting it fall to the floor with a tinny clatter "-this down," he continued speaking as he moved to take hold of one of the man's arms, wrenching it behind his back forcefully and using that grip to force him to the ground.

JJ watched Morgan whip his cuffs out and snap them onto McGregor's wrists as Hotch read him his rights, but paid them no mind as she turned her attention to the woman who was still bound and gagged on the dirty, rusting cot against the wall. She slipped her gun into its holster and quickly crossed the space toward her, smiling reassuringly at her as she slipped her arms out of her coat and laid it over the other woman's body.

"I'm Agent Jareau with the FBI, you're safe," she murmured soothingly as she reached out to gently remove the gag from the woman's mouth.

 

16

Emily was pacing inside the briefing room the team had commandeered for the case as she waited for her friends, her family, to come back. JJ had called her not long after the team had helped the woman they'd rescued into an ambulance, so she knew the blonde was safe, but until she could see it with her own eyes the knot of worry and dread and fear and apprehension that had wound itself around her stomach refused to loosen.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, she could hear familiar voices carrying down the hall. She fought the urge to jump up and run to see them and instead busied herself re-organizing the files, notes, and general paperwork that she had already cleaned up earlier; trying to look busy, trying to look as if she hadn't been nearly paralyzed with fear the entire time JJ had been away.

"Hey you," JJ called out as she stopped in the doorway to the briefing room and leaned against the frame.

Emily looked up and returned the blonde's smile with a relieved one of her own. "Hey. You're back."

"I am."

Emily nodded as she let her eyes roam JJ's lithe form, looking for any sign of injury. The knees of her black slacks were dusty, probably from kneeling on the floor of the cellar where they had found McGregor and his next victim, but otherwise she looked fine. More than fine, really. She looked as beautiful as ever.

"I'm glad," Emily murmured as she felt that crippling knot of worry in her gut finally begin to ease until, for the first time since the team had left her behind she felt like she could actually breathe.

JJ nodded knowingly. She understood exactly what Emily was feeling at the moment because she had felt it herself many times over the last year when she had been the one forced to stay behind and wait for Emily to come back. "Me too. Morgan is taking McGregor into the box, going to try and see if we can get him to cop to the first eight since it's all circumstantial at this point. Do you want to come watch?"

"Yeah." Emily set the files in her hands back down onto the table and headed for the door. She stopped beside JJ and ran a hand down the blonde's arm, feeling the younger woman's warmth, her strength.

JJ smiled and captured the brunette's hand once it reached her own and gave it a quick, gentle squeeze. "I'm fine, Em. Really."

Emily took a deep breath and held it in for a moment before letting it go slowly. "I know. Let's go watch Morgan work."

JJ nodded and led the way down the narrow hall that led to the holding and interrogation rooms, bypassing the first four chambers as she headed directly for the last door in the hall. She looked over her shoulder and smiled at Emily before she turned the knob and pushed the door open to join Hotch and Reid who were standing with a couple of the local detectives watching Morgan and Rossi question their suspect.

"He say anything yet?" Emily asked as she followed JJ into the room and closed the door behind herself.

"Not yet," Hotch answered.

"You know…" Reid started as he looked from JJ to Emily, the look in his eyes shifting from speculative to apologetic as he voiced what he was thinking, "I think if we sent JJ in he'd probably give us something. The complete distaste he showed toward her in the basement was palpable, and his crimes show a distinct hatred toward women. I don't think he would take too kindly to having a woman confronting him."

Emily had to literally bite her tongue to keep from speaking up, to keep from voicing her opinion that the idea of putting JJ in the box with that guy was beyond stupid. It was only because of her years of experience schooling her expression and hiding her emotions that she was able to not physically react to Reid's suggestion. Intellectually, the profiler in her knew it would be a smart move, but the protective part of her hated the idea of JJ getting any closer to the guy than she already had been.

JJ watched the walls snap into place in Emily's eyes and knew that the brunette didn't like Reid's idea at all, but she had to admit that he had a point. McGregor certainly seemed the type to react strongly to being confronted by a woman who held a position of authority over him, so she turned away from Emily to look at Hotch, hiking a brow questioningly, letting her posture and expression show that she believed Spence's assessment was correct.

Hotch nodded thoughtfully and knocked on the window, drawing the attention of the two agents in the box. He watched Morgan lean in closer to McGregor and mutter something that the microphones in the room couldn't pick up before he strode out of the box.

"What's up Hotch?" Morgan asked after he'd closed the door after himself.

Hotch glanced quickly at Emily before shifting his gaze to JJ and giving her a slight nod. "Morgan, I want you to go back in with JJ. See if between the two of you, you can get him riled up enough to say something we can use."

"JJ?" Morgan repeated as he looked from the determined blonde to his partner who was wearing a schooled expression and refusing to meet anybody's gaze.

"Yes." Hotch nodded.

"Let's go, Morgan," JJ muttered, looking over her shoulder at Emily one last time before she opened the door and strode purposefully into the small, gray room on the other side of the two-way mirror.

Emily edged closer to the window as the door closed behind Morgan and she watched intently as JJ settled herself into a chair opposite their chained suspect. She sucked her lower lip between her teeth and held it there as she watched JJ lean back in her chair and begin a dialogue with McGregor.

Hotch shot Rossi a look behind Emily's back and the older man nodded his approval, his eyes telling his friend that he thought the plan was sound and also that he believed Emily and JJ were handling themselves just fine. The team would be fine, probably better than they were before, because of this connection.

"She'll be fine," Rossi murmured in Emily's ear. He understood and even embraced his role as a quasi-father-figure to the woman, and knew that, while she was putting on a strong front, her protective nature was most likely screaming at her to go into the box, grab JJ, and haul her ass out of there.

"I know," Emily replied evenly, emotionlessly.

"This is our best chance."

"I know," Emily answered, finally turning to look him in the eye. "I know. I don't like it, but I know."

"Good," Rossi said with a small nod before he moved to stand next to Hotch.

Emily watched him for a moment, noted the way the two older men leaned their heads together to share a quiet conversation, before she turned her attention to Reid. She gave him a small, tight smile, letting her eyes tell him that she understood why he said what he did and that she wasn't upset with him for suggesting it. She knew her message was received when he smiled in return and gave her a small nod, his shoulders relaxing as though a weight had been taken off of them.


Four hours later the team found themselves climbing back into their matching SUVs and headed back to the hotel. Hotch had called ahead to the airstrip from the precinct and the pilot was already busy fueling the plane and making sure all the pre-flight requirements were met so that when the time arrived at the airport they would be ready to take off. Morgan snagged the keys to the second truck out of Hotch's hand and sent him off to ride with Rossi as he waved Reid over to the 'cool kids' car.

"You know you're like two seconds from a Unit Chief smack down every time you pull that shit, right?" JJ laughed as she climbed into the back seat next to Emily.

Morgan looked up into the rearview mirror at the smiling liaison and nodded. "Yup. But I'm just trying to hook my homie up with some lovin'."

Emily blushed as JJ erupted into laughter. "Oh my god, Morgan. Please tell me you did not just call Emily Prentiss your 'homie'," she said, making sure to use little air finger quotes for emphasis.

"My wingman?" Morgan offered with a laugh.

"What's a wingman?" Reid asked as he turned in his seat to look at Emily.

Silence descended on the car as the three other occupants stared, agape, at the young genius. "Really?" Emily asked.

Reid grinned. "No, not really. I know what a wingman is."

This, of course, got the group laughing again and Morgan shot Reid a wry, approving grin. "Well played, grasshopper. Well played."

Reid smiled, obviously pleased with himself, and turned back around to face the windshield. "Thank you," he said as he adjusted his sunglasses on his nose.

Emily looked over at JJ and smiled as she reached out across the seat to gently take the blonde's hand in her own. It was strange to be able to reach out and touch the younger woman like this, but at the same time there was just an overwhelming sense of rightness about the whole thing as well.

The rest of the ride was spent joking and laughing and generally trying to shake any residual darkness that they might be feeling from the case, and before long they were back in the hotel parking lot. Morgan glanced over his shoulder at Emily as he killed the engine and couldn't contain the smile that creased his face as he saw the look his partner was giving the communications liaison. He knew how long she had been admiring the younger woman and was happy for her, them, now that the two of them had somehow managed to find their way to each other.

"Meet you back here in ten?" he asked as the group converged on the front doors of the hotel.

"Sure," Emily agreed as she held the door open for JJ. "Didn't really get the chance to unpack yesterday, so it shouldn't take too long to get everything together. Jayj, do you have to check us all out?"

The blonde nodded. "Yeah, but it'll be quick. I called ahead earlier to let them know that we'd be checking out today, I just need to grab the room receipts for accounting."

"Cool," Morgan said. "Well then, let's get to it."

Emily rolled her eyes as they all came to a stop in front of the elevators. She placed a hand at the small of the blonde's back and smiled at JJ's reflection in the polished brass doors as she began moving her hand in small, light circles. She ignored the knowing smirk Morgan threw her way, instead dutifully following JJ into the car to stand against the back wall.

Reid punched the buttons for each of their floors before stepping back to the side of the car. He glanced at his watch as he asked, "Do you think we'll debrief tonight or tomorrow?"

JJ shrugged. "Dunno. Depends on Hotch's mood. It's what, a forty minute flight?"

The young genius nodded. "About that, depending on the winds."

"So that'll put us back around five," Morgan calculated as the elevator stopped at the third floor. "Here's to wishful thinking," he smiled at the girls as he followed Reid out of the car.

"Yeah," Emily agreed, giving her partner a small wave. "We'll meet you guys downstairs," she told him as the doors began to slide shut. As soon as the doors closed completely, she reached out and pulled a very willing JJ into her arms.

"Mmm," JJ hummed as she gave herself over to the embrace, wrapping her own arms around the brunette's neck. "What brought this on, Agent Prentiss?"

Emily chuckled and pressed her lips to JJ's forehead. "I've just been wanting to do this since you guys got back from McGregor's," she murmured, closing her eyes and soaking in the scent of JJ's skin, the warmth of JJ in her arms.

JJ smiled and lifted her chin to kiss Emily quickly. "I must say, I've been kind of looking forward to this too," she shared in a hushed whisper, but all further thoughts on the matter were abandoned for the moment when the car dinged, announcing that it had arrived at their floor.

The two women separated somewhat regretfully and made their way down the hall toward their room. To an outsider watching them, they looked to be nothing more than two friends; only the most observant of gazes would have picked up the slightly protective slant to the brunette's posture or the distinct absence of personal space between them as their arms brushed against each other as their strides crossed. As soon as they were in their room JJ turned to Emily and pushed the brunette back into the wall as she kicked the door closed behind them.

Emily let out a soft grunt of surprise as her back came into contact with the wall, but the grunt quickly turned into a low moan of approval as JJ's lips covered her own in a deep, lingering kiss. She reached out and grabbed hold of JJ's hips to pull the blonde into her and smirked into their kiss as she heard JJ whimper at the contact. She slipped her hands under the hem of JJ's blouse and began grasping and massaging the blonde's sides as she opened her mouth wider and slanted her head to the side to deepen their kiss until it was unmistakably raw and hungry and full of need.

"My god," JJ gasped as her burning lungs forced her to pull away.

"Mmm," Emily hummed, her tongue sweeping over her lips seductively as she leveled her lust darkened eyes onto JJ. "Come out with me tonight?"

JJ's eyes dropped to Emily's kiss swollen lips as she nodded. "Yes," she answered, her voice low and rough with barely contained desire.

Emily smiled and ran her hands up and down JJ's sides, letting her thumbs brush ever so gently against the outside of the blonde's breasts. Her smile turned decidedly wolfish as she felt JJ tremble under her touch. "Good," she husked.

JJ licked her lips and lifted her eyes and felt a familiar pull low in her hips at the look she saw in Emily's gaze. The emotions, the promises swirling in the brunette's eyes left little room for any misunderstanding as to what she had in mind. "God, Em," JJ murmured as she pushed herself back into Emily and claimed the brunette's lips once more.

The chirping of Emily's phone finally pulled them apart and the taunting, Did you get lost in JJ's eyes? We're waiiiiiiiting!, text that Morgan had sent was enough motivation for them to put their desires aside long enough to quickly collect what few belongings they'd pulled and left out of their bags. Once they had finished gathering their things they headed down to the lobby, where Emily met up with the boys and accepted her partner's teasing while JJ finished checking them out, and before long they were back in the SUV on their way to the small airstrip where their plane was waiting to take them home.


Emily followed JJ up the steps and into the team's private jet, turning left toward the cabin when the blonde turned right to speak to the pilots. It was a well choreographed dance and they did it without thinking, which was probably a good thing as neither of their heads were particularly focused on the present. Each of them were too wrapped up in their thoughts for the future – that evening, to be precise.

Emily saw that Reid and Morgan were already seated across from each other at the larger table grouping with a chess board set up between them and, while she would normally take great pleasure in watching Reid trounce her partner at chess, today she decided to avoid their bickering about Morgan taking too long or Reid cheating by dropping onto the couch and leaning back against the arm, resting her head against the bulkhead.

Morgan looked up from his game and studied Emily carefully. He would never admit it out loud, but he was glad they were heading home, he was worried about her. He knew how long a road it was to recover from serious concussions like the one she'd suffered only a week ago, and he was certain she was more tired than she was letting on. He watched JJ leave the cockpit and smiled as he observed the blonde's features softening as she appraised the brunette.

"Budge up," JJ ordered with a smile as she tapped Emily's leg.

"Hmm?" Emily opened her eyes. "Hey."

"Hey yourself," JJ replied as she took matters into her own hands and lifted the brunette's legs so she could sit on the couch as well. She set Emily's legs back down onto her lap as she settled into the seat and began absentmindedly running her right hand up and down the brunette's shins as she turned her upper body toward Emily, bracing her left elbow upon the back of the couch as she rested her head in her hand. "You okay?"

Emily smiled and nodded. "Just resting," she answered, hiking a brow suggestively.

JJ smiled and ran her hand up past Emily's knee to trace light circles on the older woman's jean covered thigh. "Big plans later?" she asked, a teasing smirk creasing her face.

Emily smiled and offered a playful shrug. "We'll see. We ready to go?"

JJ looked up at the sound of Hotch and Rossi's voices announcing the older men's arrival. Morgan's typically aggressive driving had gotten them to the airstrip with time to spare. "We are now."

Hotch paused for a moment as he entered the cabin proper and offered JJ and Emily a small nod before moving past the two women to sit down next to Morgan, giving them as much privacy as the small space allowed. Rossi followed, giving the two women a small smile as he passed before slapping a heavy hand on Morgan's shoulder and dropping heavily into the empty seat beside Reid to watch the two younger men who were now thoroughly entrenched in their game.

The flight to Quantico was quick and smooth, and when they landed Emily had to laugh at the way Morgan pulled out his phone to take a picture of the game board, not trusting Reid's memory to put the pieces in the correct places next time they played. Hotch looked over the faces of his team as they all climbed to their feet and, as he glanced at his watch to see that it was already a little after five, he decided to give the team a break.

"Debriefing tomorrow at eleven," Hotch called out and was rewarded with four thankful smiles. He knew they would have gone back to the BAU and debriefed tonight without question or complaint had he asked them to, but he also knew that they'd pulled long hours on this case and could all use the break to rest and decompress.

JJ smiled at Hotch's announcement and turned to Emily. "So, what would you like to do?"

Emily returned JJ's soft smile with one of her own and fought the urge to run a finger over the gentle slope of the blonde's jaw. "Dinner?"

"Take out?" JJ countered.

Emily licked her lips as she watched JJ's normally bright blue eyes darken. "Okay."

Part 17

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