So, I know it's been longer than expected since I posted, but since my last story I've quit a job, started a new job, healed an ulcer, and decided that I'm starting my own business. On top of that my shoulder issues have returned, so my time on the computer is limited. That said, updates probably won't follow any pattern or be particularly frequent. I miss posting though, and this story has been in the works forever so I wanted to start posting it.

Thank you ditzie-blonde, tfm, and InMyIvoryTower for their thoughts, tips and general hand-holding while I brainstormed and wrote.

Thank you lizzabet for creating the wonderful cover. Your story is in the works and it will be chaptered!

"Though I've tried, I've fallen...
I have sunk so low
I messed up
Better I should know
So don't come round here
And tell me I told you so."

- Fallen, Sarah McLachlan

August 27, 1986

Emily stared out the large windows of the sweltering hot, Chinatown bus at a city that was destroying itself. A decade ago, heroin owned the streets, then crack cocaine appeared and it was even worse. It wasn't Emily's first trip to New York City, and she wasn't so naïve that she didn't know what she was heading toward when she boarded the bus. But she had no other options. And she was a smart girl with a good head on her shoulders, she'd be okay. At least, that's what Emily told herself.

The bus, which had left from Washington, D.C., moved through the crowded streets of Chinatown like an old dog dragging a broken leg behind itself. It was light outside, having left early in the morning, but the streets of New York still looked bleak. When the bus finally pulled over, Emily swallowed to calm her nerves. The driver got up from his seat barked some loud, unintelligible words at them, and opened the door. Emily wiped sweat from her head and neck, grabbed her backpack and began the struggle to push herself off the street.

Someone grabbed her arm, and Emily gasped turning to see an older Asian man gesturing that he would help her up. Emily released her caged breath and nodded, allowing the man to help her get up and into the narrow bus aisle. Trying to squeeze herself past the seats to the aisle was made extremely difficult by her heavily swollen belly. She was on her 38th week of pregnancy, and her belly looked massive on her petite fifteen year-old frame. She would be sixteen soon though, so she wasn't all that young.

Emily stepped off the bus into the baking August heat and nearly gagged on the smell of fish. She glanced around and saw two separate fish stalls open, and then tried to breathe through her mouth. The driver was already removing luggage from the compartments underneath the bus, and Emily found her suitcase quickly. She grabbed the handle, and began pulling the suitcase behind herself, thankful for the wheels. She turned off the busy and crowded Canal Street as quickly as she could onto Orchard Street then headed east on Broome Street for several blocks. She passed strung out junkies and heavily made-up prostitutes, many as young as herself, and ducked into a store when she saw a glint of metal in the hand of a man eyeing her.

By the time she found a cheap hotel, The Majesty Hotel (though it was far from majestic), her face was red, her feet were sore and she was beginning to reconsider coming to New York City. She had picked New York City, because it would be easy to hide there. She could blend into the millions of other people, and nobody would give a crap who she was or from where she had come. But could she really live there? Emily forked over enough money for two days in the dive. That should give her enough time to make a decision.

Up in room number E3, Emily bolted the door and dropped her bags. She went over to the window and tried to turn on the air conditioning unit with no success. After fighting it for several minutes, Emily gave in with a huff and slid down to the floor. Tears bit at her eyes as she contemplated her impossible decision. She could stay in New York City, the Wild Wild East, and raise her daughter, or she could return to her mother's home in Washington, D.C. and never see her daughter again.

The ambassador had already arranged a couple to adopt Danni, against Emily's wishes. It didn't matter how much Emily begged or pled, Elizabeth was deaf to all of it. Emily was scheduled for a c-section tomorrow, after the couple arrived, and so had taken her last opportunity to flee. But New York City was dangerous and Emily had limited funds. How on Earth was she going to provide for her child? How was she even going to provide for herself?

The tears biting her eyes grew to puddles that slowly dripped down her cheeks. As if in response to her mother's sorrow, Danni kicked. The soft flutters that had begun months ago were now powerful kicks against the walls of her womb. Emily sniffled. "Hi, Danni."

She rubbed her belly. "We're going to be okay, baby," she told her unborn child. "One way or another, we'll be okay."

Emily braced herself on the busted air conditioning unit and pulled herself up from the floor. She shuffled over to the bed and collapsed onto it, knowing full well that it probably wasn't very clean, and not really caring. After about five minutes, her eyes began to flutter shut.

She was awoken not quite an hour later with an ache in her back and a sharp pain in her abdomen, like someone was tightening a belt around her swollen belly. It took Emily several seconds to realize what it all meant, and when she did, she curled even tighter into herself.

Danni was coming. In a matter of hours, Emily was going to be a fifteen year-old mother.

May 20, 2006

"Carla, Melanie, we have to go, we're going to be late," Sasha reminded the two younger girls. Curfew was at 12:30, and it was already 12:20.

"Relax, it'll be fine." Melanie laughed, unfazed. She was sixteen, and sporting a barely noticeable baby-bump, courtesy of the 30 year-old boyfriend that had quickly kicked her out after hearing the news.

"I haven't had no damn curfew since I was 12. I can take care of myself," Carla hissed. She was the youngest of the threesome, 15 and already with an arrest record. Never prosecuted though.

"Mama will throw you out if you break the rules." Sasha scowled at the girls, deep brown eyes narrowed. It hadn't been her idea to take them out. They were being restless and Mama asked her to chaperone.

"No, she won't. She'll get pissy, but she's too much a bleedin' heart to do shit."

"You ever seen anyone get thrown-out?" Melanie added to Carla's assertion.

Running a hand through her iron-straightened hair, bottom lip pouting out, Sasha answered. "A couple times. She'll give you a couple chances, but she has a waiting list, and doesn't have time for your shit, so can we please go home?"

"Why the hell do you like it there so much? I had more freedom on the street." Carla stopped and faced her, brown curls blowing in the soft night breeze.

"If you don't like it Carla, then just go back to the streets. No one is forcing you to stay."

A shrill scream sent both girls jumping out of their skin, and their eyes immediately went searching for Melanie. She was by the mouth of an alley, backing away and still screaming.

"What!" Sasha yelled, running over. "What happened!"

Melanie kept screaming until Carla grabbed her shoulders and shook her roughly. "Cool it, Mel."

"I think she's dead," the sixteen year-old whimpered.

The other two girls looked at each other, then to where Melanie had been standing, and back at each other with wide eyes.

"What do we do?" Carla asked.

Sasha pulled out her cell phone, and found the battery dead. Shit.

"Cooper and Jareau, Homicide." Detective Jason Cooper held his badge up and maneuvered under the crime scene tape, his new partner following him.

They'd been partnered for under a month, and in about the same amount of time, she'd shown up in the NYPD from some Podunk town in Pennsylvania and a distinct dislike for discussing her past.

When she introduced herself as 'JJ', he'd been instantly grateful that his wife was the only one that called him Jay. Jay and JJ, seriously? It was like some horrible 70's cop show.

"How many murders are you attributing to this guy?" The blond bent down and studied the young victim, bright blue eyes searching for clues. She had a more proper, educated way of speaking than most city cops, and it made her stick out like a sore thumb.

Even the ones with college educations slipped into the NYPD lingo eventually.

"This is number four." He studied the dead teenager, whose age, slim figure, and revealing clothing matched that of the other victims. There was blood on her mouth and bruises face, and messy stab wounds on her stomach and chest. "Damn it."

A gaggle of young voices caught both their attention. A group of girls, one white, one Hispanic, and one African American were standing by a patrol car looking frightened and cold. The black girl was talking loudly to the patrol cops. "We need to get home, we have a curfew!"

The officer was regarding them skeptically.

"I guess those would be our witnesses," JJ said.

He nodded. "Yep, looks like it. Come one, let's let the ME finish."

"Mama is gonna be worried, my cell is dead, I haven't been able to call." The dark-skinned teen was upset and growing more so by the minute.

"I'm Detective Jareau, this is Detective Cooper, you girls found the body?" JJ asked, voice soft and calm.

"Yeah, Melanie kind of found it. She was screaming and all. We really have to get home though."

"You all live together?" The blonde asked. "At like a group home or something?"

"Yeah, or something."

Cooper studied the girls. "You said Mama's going to be worried?"

She nodded. "We missed curfew."

He nodded, smiling slightly. "You three are Haven girls." JJ shot him a puzzled look, but he ignored it.

"Yeah, we are."

He looked to the patrol officers. "It's alright, we'll take them from here."

"We will?" JJ asked.

"Yeah. We'll give you a ride home, girls, and I'll clear it with 'Mama', we just have to ask you a few questions first." It never failed to amuse him how many of the girls took to calling her Mama.

JJ leaned close to him. "Who the hell is Mama?"

He chuckled. "You'll like her, trust me."

Two more notes, for those of you who don't remember, Cooper is the NYPD cop that Emily got flirty with and was shot in Lo-Fi and Mayhem. And the team members will appear as the story progresses, but it may take a while before some of them show up. Morgan should be in the next chapter. Thank you for reading and please review!