Disclaimer Don't own 'em. Just playin' with 'em.
tearbos – HEHE I'm glad you found the Horatio Caine moment amusing. I certainly did! And yeah, of COURSE, the dog would choose her. It wouldn't be a JJCentric Criminal Minds story if he didn't! LOL! Thanks for reviewing and staying with the story despite its slow pace! You rock! –hugs–
Mellow girl – I'm glad you liked the chapter and that you've stuck with the story. It means so much to me, and I promise that it gets better! –huggles–
Miss Waffles – MUAHAHAHA! Just wait, my dear, it gets a lot better. And you're getting on track with Rigley, but I've still got a few twists to throw in. –wink– I'll hit you up in a private message so we can get together and throw story ideas back and forth, if you want, of course! Hehe!
TenshiNanashi – TOTAL wicked witch complex! You definitely got that right! LOL! Thanks for the review!
elle – Thank you for the review! I'm glad you're lovin' the story! And I know! Apart from the little bit in "Revelations" where JJ freaks out for a second and pulls her gun on Emily, they never even mentioned what happened to her. I know when I saw my friend attacked by a dog (the thing took four chunks out of her head!), I was petrified of them for years. I've since gotten over it and I'm obsessed with them now, but still. It hasn't been years and I think JJ would still be at least a little freaked around dogs, especially ones that look like the ones that attacked her. (I did that on purpose, of course! A silver sable German Shepherd looks very similar to the dogs in "The Big Game" and "Revelations", hehe.) Ok, yes, rambling is now over. Thanks again!
Vince – Yes, Vince, that's EXACTLY why I had Rigley went up to JJ…because she's a hot blonde. LOL! You're such a dork. And yes, well done with the theme song. –shakes head– Did I mention you're a dork? Oh, and… "I am BEOWULF!!"
Hotch took a breath and then glanced around. "Alright," he began, "Prentiss, I want you to get with Agent Demel and head back to the lab in Denver to have the dog processed."
The brunette nodded.
JJ looked visibly relieved that she hadn't been ordered to go with Emily and the dog. Any distance she could put between herself and the animal, she would gladly take. She knew logically that she there was nothing to be afraid of, that this dog was a guide dog and nothing even akin to Henkel's dogs, but she just couldn't seem to get the image of that one beast bearing his teeth at her, eyes as vicious as his bite. If she hadn't have held on to her gun when he had lunged at her and knocked her over, she had no doubt in her mind that he and the other two would have torn her to pieces. She wouldn't have had a chance.
"I want to take another look inside before we head back to Denver, too," he continued. "I want to know how this guy got in and out in the middle of the day without being seen. Reid, you're with me. Morgan, I want you to take a look around outside, see if anything stands out." He finally turned to the young blonde. "JJ, I want you to get on the phone with Garcia and fill her in, see if she can find any connections between all of these victims besides the obvious."
"You got it," JJ replied with a nod, automatically pulling out her cell.
"Alright, boy," Emily began, speaking gently to the dog, "How about we get you into the car and to someone who can take care of you?" She gently pulled at his collar, but he wouldn't budge. "Come on, big guy. It's ok." There was still no response. Rigley continued to keep his eyes on JJ.
JJ looked from her phone to the dog and frowned, finding him more than a little unnerving, especially that stare. "Um, yeah. I'll see you later, Emily." She gave a half-wave before speed-dialing Garcia as she began to walk away.
As soon as the blonde began to walk away, Rigley suddenly got up and began limping after her. JJ stopped in the middle of talking to the plucky technical analyst to glance over her shoulder. Her eyes widened slightly as she realized the damn thing was following her.
"No, no, Rigley. This way," Emily said, trying to pull the dog in the other direction, but he wasn't having it. "Come on, Rigley. Come on," she continued to try, but the further JJ walked away, the further he followed.
"Uh, JJ, I think he likes you," Prentiss commented somewhat awkwardly. She could tell that the other woman did not like the sound of that.
"Garcia, let me call you back," JJ said reluctantly into the phone before hanging up. She stopped walking, her back still to Emily and the dog. She took a deep breath and then turned around. "Can't you just pull him to the car?" she asked with an edge of desperation in her voice.
Emily frowned slightly. "It didn't look like I was trying? This guy is strong."
JJ breathed out a heavy breath and ran her hand up and down her left arm, trying to rub out the phantom pain that continued to ebb there. "What do you want me to do?" she asked.
"I don't know. He seems content to follow you. Walk to the car so I can get him in?" Emily suggested with a slight shrug.
JJ glanced at the dog quickly before finally nodded. "Ok, ok, let's go." She started toward the first SUV. Agent Demel was already there waiting, the back open along with the first aid kit.
Rigley followed JJ as closely as he could until they got to the car. Agent Demel then gently hoisted the dog into the back. She used some gauze pads to cover his wound and then taped it down, hoping it would hold until they got back to Denver. She also had laid out some rescue blankets for him to lie down on for the trip. She just hoped he'd stay still. "Back, boy," she said, closing the hatch before turning to Emily and JJ. "Ok, I think we're ready to go."
Both women nodded, but as soon as JJ started to walk away, Rigley started barking up a storm and scratching on the window as if he desperately wanted to get out.
Emily frowned and instinctively placed her hand on the window where he was. "It's ok, buddy. We're gonna take you somewhere nice. You'll be ok." Her soothing words did nothing to calm him though. He still continued to freak out the further JJ went away.
Reid and Morgan had gone to do what Hotch had asked of them, but the man himself had stayed outside after first seeing that the dog wouldn't move for Emily. He was going to offer his help when Rigley started following JJ. He watched on, somewhat perplexed. Reading people was one thing, but animals were completely different. He could only speculate as to why this dog seemed to like JJ after only knowing her for a few minutes. They said dogs could sense things like fear and the like, so why form an attachment to someone who had an obvious distaste for him?
Realizing how difficult the dog would most likely be for Agent Demel and Emily, he stopped JJ once she was a few more feet away from the car and said, "On second thought, you can make that call to Garcia on the way back to Denver with Prentiss and Agent Demel." He could tell by the look on the young blonde's face that she was about to protest, but he cut her off before she could. "You've done all you can with the media for now and the rest of us can handle the scene. I want you to go back to the CBI headquarters and start working things up, ok?"
JJ still looked like she was going to protest, but to her credit, she didn't. She simply nodded and said, "Yes, sir." Truth be told, the media presence had thinned out quite a bit since their arrival and there really was no point of her staying there. She just really didn't want to ride in the car with the dog and she was absolutely positive that Hotch knew that. How could he not?
And yet, here she was walking back to the SUV with the crazed dog in the back. Demel had climbed into the driver's seat and Emily, seemingly having had the foresight to know what Hotch was going to do, was kind enough to get in the backseat so that JJ could sit up front.
Opening the door and glancing cautiously toward the back, the blonde climbed into the SUV with the rest of the women and buckled her seatbelt. Rigley barked one more time and then to JJ's surprise, and relief, he grew silent and then settled down for the long drive back to Denver.
Emily carefully watched JJ from the backseat, observing her in an almost clinical sort of way. She knew from the moment that she and Morgan had found JJ in Henkel's barn, with her left arm torn up and three dead dogs lying about, that the younger woman had gone through a serious ordeal. And then JJ had put herself through so much guilt over Reid's kidnapping and torture that she hadn't even bothered to correct anyone when they had blamed her for not sticking with Reid when it had actually been him who had left her. And it was absolutely obvious despite JJ's near- unwavering poise, determined attitude, and professional demeanor, that the woman was far from over from that horrifying experience.
Prentiss had never seen JJ back down from anything. She could talk to a room of filled with cameras and people, console broken families, stand face-to-face with black-hearted killers and she didn't bat an eye, but this…this was different. The woman actually looked scared to death right now. To the outside observer, it might not have looked exactly like that, but to Emily, well, she could literally see the fear in JJ's piercing blue eyes. And it was more than a little frightening.
Could it be PTSD, Emily wondered. It was certainly possible. Everyone had been so concerned about Reid that they seemed to completely forget that JJ had gone through something terrible as well. All of their focus had been on getting Spencer back, and then after that, it had been about his recovery. No one had even bothered to really check in on JJ and see how she was doing, and for that, Emily was more than a little ashamed. She was a profiler and she was supposed to be able to read people. That's what she and the team did. They were the Behavioral Analyst Unit, for God's sake, and yet they had somehow managed to let JJ's silent suffering slip by unnoticed.
Or maybe it was noticed. Hotch certainly seemed to be in-tuned with it to some extent; yet he just stood back and watched it happen. Did he expect JJ to come to him about it? Reid hadn't, and JJ seemed even less likely to open up about something of such a personnel nature.
To Emily it appeared almost as if JJ felt if she let anyone inside that wall she had taken so long learning to put up, it would all simply crash down around her and then she'd be left completely vulnerable. Now, JJ had openly stated that she had "tough skin" and seemed to be rather proud of it as it served her well when it came to being a media liaison and just a woman in general, but for some reason, Emily got the feeling that JJ used the front a lot more than the average person. Sure, the young blonde didn't exactly have an average job and it did call for an extra degree of emotional and mental strength, but it was almost as if JJ never let that wall down at all, never took a breath, a break, never relaxed.
Now, this didn't at all mean that she couldn't relate to people. She proved on a daily basis that she was an extremely compassionate person such as when dealing with victims and families of victims. And she was also a very sweet, caring, and funny person, but it seemed all a little superficial. At least that's what Emily thought. There were occasions when the girls would go out to have a good time and even then, JJ still seemed to keep that wall up.
It was a defense mechanism. Emily knew that. She just wished for once that her friend would let someone in, that JJ would actually release some of those pent up emotions before they overtook her, making her do something she would definitely regret.
TO BE CONTINUED!
(A/N: God, I think I just psychoanalyzed myself into a coma. I'm sure I repeated a lot of the same stuff, too, so please forgive me. I wrote the second half of this chapter while on a plane to Missouri from Florida. I was listening to depressing music so it made me feel like delving deeper into JJ's psyche, and Emily's thoughts on the matter. Feel free to throw squishy fruit or slightly dead, mutated cows at me if I bored you out of your mind! If I didn't bore you or drive you insane, feel free to throw money. Money is welcome. Always. Or just review. That'd be awesome, too. So yes, CLICKY CLICKY! Love to all!)