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Three Things Jennifer Jareau Knew She Shouldn’t Do
She watched her. Watched her out of the corner of her eye, watched the angled grace of a head tilted in concentration. Watched the fall of brown-black hair as it curved into the sloping line of neck and shoulders. Watched the unconsciously confident way she walked, the seductive sway of hips, wide black belt riding low on her waist, gun nestled at her side. Once or twice, on the jet, she watched her sleep, the tension leaving that face, softening the sharp curves of high cheekbones and long jaw line, erasing the tiny fissures between thin brows.
She knew that she shouldn't. It would never end well. Things never did for her. She knew that everyone imagined that her life was charmed. Brains, beauty, talent. She was young and she'd come a long way in the Bureau in such a short time, to one of the most elite units in the entire FBI. She was their face, their representative.
She wondered sometimes if being the calm, steady voice of the B.A.U. had robbed her of her own voice, or if it was still there somewhere, buried under copies of communications texts and case files. She wondered if she still sounded like that post-pubescent girl who had told the FBI recruiter that she was interested in joining the Bureau, interested in anything that would get her out of Pittsburgh, out of her life.
She knew that the others thought that she was driven and in a way she was. Just not the way they imagined. Yes, she felt a need to prove herself; not so much to her colleagues or her bosses, maybe not even to herself, but to the lingering shadows of family and friends and teachers who said she'd never be anything more than a hick girl from a hick town in Pennsylvania.
She met hundreds of people every year in the course of her job. But she wasn't who any of them, in lingering moments or cursory glances or even detailed fantasies, thought that she was. She didn't even believe that she was who the rest of the team imagined her to be. Her life wasn't charmed. Not by a long shot.
Her life was lonely. She went home most nights to an empty house that she bought because, despite years of being away from the empty expanses of space back home, she still hated being so close to other people. She hadn't liked dorm life, the constant noise, the constant presence of other people ten feet away. There were times that she'd felt like screaming, the thump of someone else's music rattling her walls, the sound of laughter in which she had no part slicing through her brain like a hot knife through butter.
So, after she graduated from college, after she made it through the hell of the Academy and got her first assignment with the Bureau, she had scrimped and saved, and finally bought a house. Two bedrooms, twenty yards on either side of the brick walls separating her from her neighbors. Space to breath. Space to think.
It's just that recently, all she could think about, lying alone between the crisp, cool cotton of sheets was someone she had no business thinking about. Someone whose life was as removed from her own as Boston from Bakersfield, despite the fact that every day they sat not two feet apart from each other, eyes meeting over conference tables and across interrogation rooms.
Still, she couldn't help it. She had tried and failed. Failed miserably. Besides, there was nothing wrong with thinking, even if those treacherous thoughts ran to the minute dimple that appeared at the corner of full lips when she smiled that melancholy, distracted, acknowledging smile, or the way her thick, black watch rode up on her arm, revealing the elegant slenderness of her wrist bone.
And there was nothing wrong with looking. Except, of course, when those warm brown eyes turned suddenly and caught her watching, caught her before she had time to look away, before she had time to drop the screen over her own eyes, to hide the longing painted on her irises like graffiti; "I want you", written across the clear blue walls in ink the color of blood.
JJ knew better. She really did. And maybe if it hadn't been such a shitty case, and maybe if she'd left that last glass of wine sitting nearly full on the table, it wouldn't have happened. Only she knew better. She knew that it had nothing to do with the case, or the wine, or even the way Emily's eyes seemed to swallow her whole, or the feeling of touching an exposed wire that shivered along her skin as the slightly rough pad of Emily's thumb drew an invisible pattern on the back of her hand.
All of the others had left hours ago, left the discordant racket of clanking glasses, the smell of stale beer and the raucous haze of piped in music and semi-drunken voices, for homes that clearly weren't as empty as hers. All except Emily. Emily, who sat across from her all evening, her glass of red wine never completely drained, full of hollow laughter and smiles that never reached higher than full lips, a question in her brown eyes that JJ tried to convince herself wasn't meant only for her; a question that she tried futilely to convince herself that she couldn't quite make out, much less answer.
The thing was, she did know the answer, or rather, she knew what the answer ought to be. It just wasn't the one she wanted.
That's why she wasn't particularly surprised to feel Emily's hand cover her own on the top of the scarred wooden table, or to see that question magnified, spreading across Emily's face like the dark circle of the moon, eclipsing the sun. The places on her hand where Emily's skin touched her own were hot. Looking down, she expected to see small brands in the unique, swirled pattern of Emily's fingerprints, raw against her tanned, freckled skin.
She tried not to notice the non-existent nails and slender length of Emily's fingers, but she didn't quite succeed. Not that she hadn't noticed them before. Only now they were touching her.
Neither of them spoke, both sets of eyes fixated on the entwined sculpture of skin and muscle and bone that lay between them, a thing of abstract beauty. Finally, Emily murmured a gentle summons to go and rose from her stool with one languid motion, slipping her hand away from JJ's with a visible wince, as if the sudden lack of connection had smarted, the sting of a slowly removed bandage from an open wound.
Standing to leave, JJ could see that despite the several rounds of drinks they had imbibed that Emily was fine, her gaze as clear and unwavering as ever. She was the one who had had one too many drinks, hoping to blur the single consonant and vowel of the only answer that she knew that she could give to Emily's question into something else, something less painful, something she could live with.
She pulled her cell out to call a cab, only to stop at the feel of those fingers against her skin again, stilling the fumble of wine slowed reflexes as she tried to dial the number.
Minutes later, she found herself in the darkened interior of Emily's car, the roads nearly empty, the yellowed blip, blip, blip of streetlights as they slipped by into the dark night a warning signal she couldn't quite ignore. Get home. Say thanks and goodnight. Get out of the car. Go in. Shut the door. Simple.
And JJ might have made it, too; except, as she pulled up to the curb outside JJ's house, killing the lights and leaving them in the wan, sickly glow coming from the neighbor's front porch, Emily said her name.
Not her nickname. Not JJ. She called her Jennifer, something no one ever called her these days, mainly because she didn't encourage it. "JJ" gave her distance, created a new, efficient, slightly plastic persona that allowed for just enough familiarity to stop anyone from prying too much into what lay beyond the cute moniker. Everyone knew "JJ". Everyone liked and respected "JJ".
"Jennifer" was another story. Peering into the darkness, she could see her name hanging in the air along the dark line of the dashboard, written in the strong, bold strokes of Emily's handwriting, emotions she didn't even want to consider hidden among the curls and sweeping lines.
Jennifer. She said it again. Only this time much closer, the soft whisper of breath against the suddenly too warm skin of her cheek raising goose bumps of flesh along her arms and down the sloping curve of her back. She could smell the rich, spicy scent of Emily's perfume, mingled with the sharp tang of her brown leather jacket, feel the moist heat suffuse her body as soft lips took advantage of the exposed line of her neck as her head tilted forward unconsciously in surrender.
She knew she shouldn't turn her face. She knew that she shouldn't allow her lips to taste the wine stained fullness of the ones just brushing the skin along her jaw line. She knew that she should simply murmur a gentle, "no" to the hand that had slipped under the edge of her jacket, that she should blunder out into the clammy chill of the Virginia night, the ungainly shape of guilt and fear left behind on the smooth leather seat the only answer that Emily would need.
But she didn't. JJ turned her head, lips parted, meeting the slick warmth of Emily's mouth, the desperate hunger of the kiss tempered by a gentleness in the brunette's lips and hands that brought a sting of tears to JJ's eyes. Her own hands rose to tangle in the air cooled thickness of dark hair, the indecipherable sound at the back of her throat the only answer either of them wanted to hear.
Part of her had known from the moment Emily's hand had covered hers that she had lost the lopsided internal battle she had been waging. So she offered up her white flag. She just prayed that Emily knew what it cost her.
She knew she shouldn't tell her. Not yet. There were things that JJ knew not to do, knew without thinking or considering. Ingrained. Instinctive. Things like not opening a bottle of Diet Pepsi after dropping it on the floor. Like not letting her fingers slip as she shoved the clip into her gun. Like not setting a cup of hot coffee between her thighs or coming home after ten on a Saturday night as a teenager, because Uncle Dail would have finished a couple of six packs by then, and that was never a good thing. Things that would end badly, painfully, with only her left to mop of the mess.
Like telling Emily she loved her. Had loved her for some time now.
The top sheet of her bed was pulled out, hanging at an odd angle from the side of the bed, a ripple of pale yellow against the dark blue of the carpet. She could see it from the corner of her eye, a vague thought crossing her mind that she was going to have to get up and tuck it back in before she went to sleep. The thought was roughly pushed aside by the feel of Emily's mouth, hot and languid, against the skin of her stomach, moving at a leisurely pace down taut muscle and over springy blonde hairs, to settle quite comfortably, knowingly in the moist juncture between her legs.
JJ had had other lovers. But no one had ever touched her the way Emily did. It wasn't about technique or style; it wasn't how often or how long, though, God knows, JJ had no complaints in any of those categories. She'd tried to figure it out, to reduce it to a simple equation, but it hadn't worked.
Now, feeling the rough texture of Emily's tongue against her clit, the way she dragged her full bottom lip slowly, back and forth, back and forth, over the sensitive, exposed bundle of nerves, teasing, the touch just light enough that JJ's hips surged up to meet her, her own bottom lip caught between straight white teeth, JJ looked down and met Emily's eyes.
Holding her gaze, Emily gently slid three fingers inside her, watching as JJ's eyes fluttered shut at the increased sensations. JJ forced her eyes open, her hips beginning to move erratically, her breath catching in her throat, needing at this moment more than any other to see Emily's face, to see the look in those dark eyes.
It was the same look that was always there when Emily looked at her. It was just that JJ finally named it.
That was the difference. Emily loved her.
She knew that it was true, although neither of them had ever spoken the words out loud. It had been three months now since that fateful night in the car, three cautious months of verbal subterfuge and omitted pronouns with the people they cared about. Three months of stolen moments when no one else was looking to share a glance or a smile. Of pretending to go home alone each night, only to end up together, in JJ's house or Emily's apartment.
Three months of snuggling on the couch, of conversations in darkened bedrooms that lasted until four in the morning, holding each other and just talking, sharing. Three months of amazing sex.
Three months to say three separately insignificant words; three words which, when linked together, held more power than any nuclear arsenal.
JJ felt the sensations caused by Emily's mouth and hands begin to overwhelm her, her brain losing its grasp on higher cognitive functions, her breath now coming in gasps, the sharp gulps and releases of air of one struggling not to drown, yet secretly desiring nothing more than to give in to the pull of the sea. Emily wrapped one arm around her inner thigh and hip, anchoring her to her mouth as JJ's movements grew more frenzied, her own lips forming words her brain couldn't quite control.
Begging. Calling out to God and Emily, not necessarily in that order, pleading with her not to stop. As if she had any intentions of doing so.
Several minutes later, JJ managed to raise her head from its prostrate position half off the edge of the bed and again meet Emily's eyes. The brunette was smiling lazily at her, clearly quite pleased with the results of her labors, and there it was, still peering confidently from those brown depths. Love.
She knew she shouldn't say it. She knew that everyone says it in the throes of passion, caught up in the physical, unable to differentiate between lust and love. Between attraction and love. Between simple liking and love. The thing was, she didn't have that problem.
She knew she loved Emily. She also knew she shouldn't say it. Not now. Not like this. Saying those words first could be disastrous. What if the other person didn't say them back? What if the words meant more to one than the other? What if they dried up, like the glue and glitter words on the picture she made for her aunt when she was ten, finally flaking off so that all that remained was the faint outline of the letters against the faded red construction paper?
She had learned that playing it safe was the best bet for avoiding any unnecessary pain. So she knew she shouldn't tell her.
The thing was, she didn't factor in Emily.
Pushing up on her hands, Emily crawled up the bed towards her, hovering over JJ's body, one finger coming up to trace the thin sheen of sweat that coated JJ's chest and neck, blonde hair, darkened with sweat, sticking to moist skin here and there along the slender column of her throat. Emily was smiling still, that tiny dimple at the right corner of her mouth peeking out, teeth brilliantly white against bruised lips. And before JJ knew what had happened, Emily had said it.
Calmly. Tenderly. Earnestly. Simply. Said that she loved her.
And looking up into that beautiful face, dark eyes shining with love, JJ did the only thing she could imagine doing. The only thing she wanted to do. Even though she knew she probably shouldn't. Knew that it had the potential to destroy her.
She said, "I love you, too."
Because since she had met Emily, she had done a lot of things she knew she shouldn't. She doubted that one more was going to kill her. Besides, it was true.
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