10 – All I Need
''All my agony fades away
when you hold me in your embrace''
''All I Need'' – Within Temptation
It was sometime later, time slipping into the early hours but unnoticed by either woman, that Elizabeth Prentiss stood in her daughter's hospital room doorway. After receiving Agent Hotchner's phone call, she had been in a state of surrealistic propulsion. She had never taken a call like this before, thankfully, and it was a little of an understatement to say that she had been flawed. Suddenly the immense gap that sank between herself and Emily seemed impossibly large, and threatened to be what lingered between them forever more.
Her baby, her flesh and blood, looked so far from anything that Elizabeth had ever seen her before. Bruised and battered, seemingly substantially smaller from just a few days ago when she had seen her last. She hadn't even known Emily had gone out of the state. As far as she had been concerned, her daughter was fine and she would be seeing her on Sunday.
There had been very few times in her life that she had actually been stalled, as though she had run straight into an invisible brick wall that sent her toppling back onto her ass. Every single judgement, disappointment, all anger and criticism that she had held in regard to Emily just drained from her, now faced with this. It was painful, seeing your only child lying limply in a hospital bed after facing such brutality. For a moment, Elizabeth cursed her daughter for doing what she did. For choosing such a career that constantly put her in this jeopardy. For not choosing instead politics or possibly law. Yet she felt so immensely proud. Emily had such a good heart, a brave heart. She was passionate and strong-minded, and she did what she did to help people. She was quite possibly the only person Elizabeth knew that had the gritty strength to come up against something like this, survive it, and then go back to fight another day.
''Normally we wouldn't have let none family members stay. But they wanted an Agent to stay here through the night.''
The Doctor, stood just behind the Ambassador, broke through her musings, indicating the blonde woman sleeping soundly, tucked under a blanket and hunched into the chair. Without a doubt, Elizabeth knew just who that Agent was, and both nodded slowly and smirked lightly. It amused her just a touch that the Doctor had been gullible enough to accept that as an excuse for her to stay by Emily's bedside.
''How is my daughter doing?''
She spoke finally, not having said anything else since she had announced who she was and who she had come for. Her eyes once again fixed onto her daughter, a mass of emotion swelling beneath her chest. Not that it dented her visible armour. Her beautiful features seemingly blank and her whiskey voice as smooth and direct as always. Her arms were folded across her chest, and her posture stood to attention as it usually did. She was well practiced at keeping her emotion out of sight. As was Emily, something that she had taught her. For a long time, Elizabeth wondered if that was a good or bad thing.
''Very well. She took quite the beating. He did a lot over 24 hours. But she's a very strong woman.''
The smaller man responded, clearly impressed to the point where he sounded almost proud. Still, Elizabeth couldn't blame him; Emily was her own force of nature.
''Yes, she is. How long will you be keeping her here?''
''In the minimum she'll be here two days. However, I'd like it to be longer.''
The Ambassador scoffed lightly, already imagining Emily's opinion on how long she would have to stay in the hospital for. To say her daughter hated them was the understatement of the year. Emily had always had an adversity to them ever since her Grandfather had taken ill. She had loved him so dearly that it had broken the little girls heart to see him wither away surrounded by wires and monitors. She had avoided hospitals as much as she could ever since.
''You'll have to fight her over it.''
''Well, then I expect to loose. Ma'am, are you okay? I know, it's hard for parents to see their children hurt.''
The Doctor smiled, then voiced his concern for the seemingly subdued attitude coming from her. He had unfortunately seen far too many parents faced with their worst nightmare. It didn't matter if their child was an infant or an adult, they were still their children. It never got easier.
''Sometimes I forget just how fragile she really is. Sometimes I even forget that she was ever dependant on anyone. Emily has the will and determination of no one I have ever known. And that led her right to the most elite unit in the FBI. So I suppose I should have been prepared for this. I mean, what kind of Mother doesn't worry about getting a phone call in the middle of the night about her serial killer chasing child?''
It dumbfounded her that she didn't think about it more often. And she found herself wondering just how many times Emily had been hurt in the line of duty before now, but had always remained quiet about it. She thought back to the conversation they had had at her home over lunch, when Emily had been spurred into an indignant rant about things that were unnatural. She had stated that if people only knew what was happening out there, they would reconsider who deserved the title. Elizabeth hadn't thought about it then, never really truly thought too deeply about it, even though she had seen some more than shocking sights herself. But was Emily saw everyday was entirely different. Almost alien, in its concept. She was bombarded with it all, it seeped into her skin. It begged the question of what exactly her daughter had been through because of it. Because she saw, she experienced and dealt with it. For the first time it scared her. This scared her.
''One that trusts and supports them in their endeavours.''
Elizabeth turned to him now, smiling lightly as she looked at him mysteriously. He didn't know that she hadn't been much of a Mother. Provided everything Emily needed but hardly anything she had wanted. He just saw her as a dutiful, loving Mother because she stood here in the middle of the night, having dropped everything to do so. He didn't know that she had told Emily on numerous times that she didn't think the FBI was good enough. She had never told her explicitly that she supported her, secretly proud that her girl stood on her own two feet, flat out refusing to be intimidated away from what she wanted. Emily just thought she had been a constant disappointment, but nothing could be father from the truth. Elizabeth had just grown so used to hiding behind the persona she had created to show her that.
''Thank you for taking such good care of her. She's the only thing I've got that's worth anything.''
That whiskey smooth voice faltered, split and hushed with the truth of her emotion. For a moment, in her honesty and sincerity, she let the mask drop. It made the man smile grateful and nod in understanding.
''Just doing my job, but you're welcome. Oh, and the man that abducted her? One of his victims was a nurse here. Those two women in there are pretty much hero's around here.''
He informed seriously, looking back into the dark room at his patient and the sleeping Agent that he figured was possibly more than a colleague or friend. He had been told about her behaviour when she had arrived, practically having to be pried away and seen to herself. The fact that she was hardly a foot away from the bed, and that kind of asleep that if anything happened she would spring back into alertness. But then, it wasn't his place to speculate. Though he was glad that his patient had someone here to support her.
''What happened to him?''
The Doctor lifted his hand, gesturing over toward the still unaware JJ.
''He was killed. By Agent Jareau there. No real loss.''
Elizabeth regarded JJ thoughtfully, trying to piece together what had exactly happened tonight. It had been a brief call, between Agent Hotchner and herself. Solemnly he had informed her of Emily's situation, stating that she had been taken by an unsub that they had been looking for in New Jersey. The rest of the information she had learnt from the news, or from the night staff here that had brought her up to speed. But there were still some gaping holes in the explanation that she would, in due time, demand to know. Now was not that time however, it was no use in waking anyone up to give her it. It didn't make a difference really, she just wanted to know.
''I'll let you have some time with your daughter, Mrs Prentiss.''
Smiling at him quickly again, yet absentmindedly, Elizabeth didn't respond verbally as he walked away, knowing that it had come time to give her some space. Perceptive man. She turned to once again look at her daughter, who had not moved since she had looked at her last. Taking in a steadying breath, the Ambassador moved forward to Emily's bedside. She felt herself flinch, her face grimacing at the unsavoury sight in front of her. The strange sight, in front of her. Again, almost alien in its concept. But she reached out slowly, running the tips of her fingers gently down Emily's face before stroking through some of her hair. For a moment, she lost the sense of everything. Engulfed only by a Mother's desperate longing to protect their child. The shadows around her seemed to be alive with everything left unspoken, hidden feelings, needless secrets. Before her lay an amazing woman, a truly remarkable daughter, and all she had done was squander the precious time with her, making Emily believe for so long that she was, never had been and never would be, good enough.
''You have stood exactly where you have all of your life, Emily. Right in the centre of my heart. I noticed you everyday. I wish I had let you know that. Because I do love you. Very, very much.''
Overwhelmed with her whispered confession, Elizabeth leant down and placed a soft, delicate kiss on her daughter's forehead. For a moment longer, she stroked along Emily's face, before turning to move into the corner of the room to sit in the surprisingly comfortable armchair. She intended to keep watch over both of the room's occupants now.
Unsurprisingly and characteristically, it was the delicious aroma of coffee that drifted to her, that penetrated through her foggy slumber. JJ was highly aware of how much coffee she consumed, and often thought that it was probably unhealthy. Her body was so accustomed to caffeine that she craved it constantly, like a smoker craved cigarettes and a drug addict craved the next high. She wasn't one to have an addictive personality, but she considered this to be her true downfall. In substances that was. But then, didn't everyone indulge in a little something, like Emily did with chocolate?
Emily. Instinctively, her eyes began to open slowly, stinging slightly from the bright light that she was greeted with. Possibly every joint within her body ached dully, reminding her that the only rest she had taken had been slumped awkwardly in a chair. She ignored it and began to sit up, breathing in deeply in order to try and wake up a little. The steady rhythm of the monitor floated to her ears, before the background noise of the comings and goings of the hospital followed it.
Now sat up, even though a little dazed from sleep, JJ first looked toward Emily. Seeing that she was still asleep, the blonde afforded herself a confused glance at the large, take out coffee cup sitting on the side locker beside her, along with a little brown paper bag.
''Would you like to know a secret, Jennifer?''
Before JJ had chance to wonder if one of the team was here, bringing with them some coffee that would have been very welcomed, a faintly familiar voice cut through the air clearly. She didn't fail to notice either, the emphasis placed on her name. Ambassador Prentiss.
JJ turned her head to look at the woman in question, sat upright in a corner chair, legs crossed and looking as perfect as she always seemed to. Holding one of the same coffee mugs in her hands. But, the one time JJ had met Emily's Mother, and from the pictures she had seen, she could tell that there was something different about her. Something in her eyes that she couldn't quite identify, but was meaningful and introspective in nature. She only knew that because Emily often held the same look.
Sensing that right now the Ambassador had something on her mind, JJ simply nodded, giving her the encouragement needed in one word to continue. The fact that the older woman was looking at her speculatively, but with an air of mysterious that worried her slightly, kept making itself known to JJ. Now that Emily was safe, and she knew she was going to make a good recovery, JJ allowed her previous worries about meeting her Mother properly, as her girlfriend, inch back into her.
''Almost everything that Emily has done, I have kept. All her paintings, her medals, badges, reports…anything like that. I've kept it all. I have these special books, you see. I put anything in relating to her. Pictures, too. They're like diaries of her life.''
Elizabeth confessed warmly; wistfully even, yet with a saddening amount of sorrow and regret wavering through it. She wasn't sure why she had admitted that to JJ, a woman that she didn't know. But Emily did. Emily loved her. And this woman had saved her daughters life. She could actually see the connection between them, it was so strong. Emily didn't need to be awake for it to be there, hovering in the air peacefully but with an intensity that almost blew her away. It intrigued her. Jennifer intrigued her. She watched closely as the striking, despite being pale and tired, looking toward her daughter. She did too, but within a couple of seconds, they found each others eyes again.
''She isn't, however, aware of this.''
Elizabeth smiled lightly, knowing that JJ understood that what she had just said had indeed been a secret that Emily wasn't to be aware of. Not only that though, it had just been something she needed to get out. Just so that someone else knew. In times like these, people tended to need to let go of certain things, even if it was to the wrong person. Times like these changed people. Made them reconsider things, think about their past, their future. Things they regretted, and the things they could still set right. Elizabeth was aware that she was no exception to these thoughts.
''You know, lying there, she looks ten years old again. She got very sick then.''
The experienced diplomat stated lightly, lost in a wave of memory. Emily had indeed gotten extremely sick, when they were still living in Cairo. It had been the only time really that she had ever been ill like that. Emily had never been one to catch bugs, and if she did, she didn't say anything much about it. But this had slammed into her little girl forcefully, landing her in hospital which of course, had completely horrified her. Elizabeth had sat watch over Emily then, just like she had last night. Not that her daughter had ever remembered, she had been too feverish to remember, and she had never told her.
''What was she like, as a child?''
JJ asked, not being able to resist the chance to ask as she leant forward a little bit, crossing her legs and propping up her elbow so her hand could hold her head up. She had heard Emily's version, her memories, her thoughts and feelings. Now though, having Ambassador Prentiss in such an open state just begged for her to pry a little bit. Especially given the little 'secret' she had just been allowed in on. Seeing as that she now knew that Elizabeth hadn't taken such a blind eye, she wanted to bring out some of her memories, her thoughts and feelings. For more reasons than wanting to hear about an adorable little Emily Prentiss.
''Vibrant. Intelligent. Sweet. She was pure. Of course, that was before the world caught up to her. She would have stood a chance, if it weren't for her parents. We certainly didn't make it easy. I'm sure you already know that. But somehow, and don't ask me how, she's manage to hold onto those. Oh I know she guards them with her life, but I know they're still there.''
Elizabeth replied affectionately, making JJ smile warmly as she imagined a cute little dark haired girl. A girl that would eventually turn into the woman that she loved. Things had gotten fractured along the lines, JJ was aware of that. But clearly, all was not lost. Clearly, Mother and daughter were just afraid and too stubborn to admit it. She felt like smacking their heads together. As she looked down, she didn't notice Elizabeth regarding her.
''I imagine she shows them to you, though. Does she tell you she loves you?''
JJ looked up again, a wide, classic Jareau smile covering her lips as her deep blue eyes glowed radiantly.
''I'm glad. She's infinitely braver than me. I should have told her before.''
Still taking full advantage of the moment, JJ took her chance to ask the question that Emily had been too afraid of.
''Why haven't you?''
''Fear, I suppose. It was easier to be distant, letting my job take precedent. I convinced myself I was doing it for her. I suppose it's a little true, I was able to give her everything she ever needed. Besides a real childhood and love, of course. But it was still easier. I just didn't know how. My Mother never showed me either.''
JJ remained quiet, letting Elizabeth reflect and knowing already that there wasn't all that much she could say anyway.
''The coffee's for you dear. It's still hot. One of the nurses fetched them in, along with a couple of pastries if you're hungry. Now that's what I call value for medical insurance!''
Elizabeth breathed in softly, pulling herself out of her daze and gesturing toward the coffee that was still steaming on the top. As JJ turned to look at it, before taking it gratefully, she took the opportunity to look at her. Underneath all the emotion and the exhaustion, Elizabeth could see easily see what Emily had talked about. The conversations floated by her, words and feelings jumping out at her. The way her daughter had spoken with such a powerful intensity that it had actually quietened her voice. She hadn't understood then. She couldn't say she honestly fully understood now. She considered herself to be a woman of the world, and was aware that for the most part, sexuality wasn't a choice. Love wasn't a choice. Emily had made it perfectly clear too. But Emily was also her daughter, and it hadn't been the choice she would have made for her. But then again, she had stopped being able to make choices for Emily long ago. And now, she wondered if it really mattered. She saw the woman in front of her, how she seemed completely devoted to her daughter, and considered that it was only that which mattered. Emily was happy, who was she to disturb that?
''Emily was certainly right about you. You're very beautiful.''
JJ looked at her again quickly, feeling herself flush red and smile shyly.
''She said that I was beautiful?''
She echoed in question, not because she didn't think Emily didn't think it, but because she had actually said something like that to her Mother.
''She said quite a lot of things. The only thing I'm going to ask, is do you feel the same way about her the way she does for you?''
Elizabeth alluded, leaving it up to JJ to imagine what she would about her and Emily's conversation, if she didn't know already. Then the protectiveness got the better of her. The Mother in her had to ask, wanting to make sure of this one thing in order to get over her issues for her daughter.
''Yes, I do.''
JJ responded immediately, her shyness gone and replaced by possibly the most openly genuine look that Elizabeth had ever seen. It instantly quashed any doubt or worry in her. Instantly made her understand everything a little better, even herself. And that flush of pride that she felt for Emily shot through her again, knowing that she had managed to find something that she herself hadn't.
''You know, it isn't too late to tell her about those books? To talk to her, tell her you love her. I think she'd like that. And I think you would too.''
JJ pointed out, conjuring up the courage to do so as the Ambassador thought to herself for a moment. Now was her opportunity to do something somewhat better than smack their heads together.
''I can't repair the damage I've caused over the years. I can't give her anything back.''
The older woman replied, a look of defeat and helplessness casting its way over to her. JJ wondered how often that look was allowed to be seen. Thought perhaps she was getting a rare opportunity to see the actual person and not the politician. It wasn't her that needed to see the person though, it was Emily. She was the one who had been searching for so long. If JJ could help aid that search, she wasn't going to waste her chance.
''She's not looking for any of that back. She's looking for you. She loves you. A lot. It's why she goes to you, even at the risk of being disappointed. Because she wants you to know her, wants you to see her. So let her know that you do.''
JJ's breath caught in her throat as Elizabeth peered at her, an unreadable look covering her eyes and face. For a moment, she thought she had overstepped her boundaries, misjudged the her opportunity. So she was relieved then, when she saw a smirk eventually make its way onto the Ambassadors face.
''I have a feeling I'm going to like you. Although, you have a distinct advantage considering you saved my daughters life. That always impresses the parents!''
JJ chuckled a little, nodding faintly at the absurdity of the notion, and briefly wondering if Elizabeth would have accepted her as readily on Sunday if none of this had ever happened. She knew it was a joke, however, but JJ was only too aware of the gratefulness crossing into the other woman's voice too. It was a thank you that she wouldn't have accepted if it was given to her directly. No one had to thank her for going into that house.
JJ might have replied then, but she felt her heart shoot into her throat quickly as her ears detected a small, barely audible sigh drifting over from the hospital bed. She knew that sigh, very well. So long in a relationship with Emily made her recognise the sounds she made when she was waking up. Still, JJ was unsure of whether she had heard it right or not, and acknowledged the possibility that it was her hopeful imagination. Sitting up a little more, with bated breath, her eyes glued onto her lovers form intently, waiting for an indication that her ears had been right. It took a second or two, but that confirmation came in the form of Emily's head moving slightly, obviously trying to follow the sound of voices, and a small frown creasing her forehead.
Emily didn't know why everything felt do dull. She couldn't place the sensation that was stirring just under a blanket of numbness, making her feel like she was floating and drained. She felt dry and heavy, like something was pressing on top of her, weighing her down. Everything was dim and dark, noises echoed in her mind that was scrambling to figure out what the hell was going on. The only thing she could really recognised, was the distinct tone of her Mother's voice.
''Yes honey, I'm here.''
The second after Emily's whisper, cracked and shakey from her weakness, both Elizabeth and JJ were at her bedside, hovering at either side. They watched, eagerly as the brunette concentrated, struggling to form her words, having yet to open her eyes.
''I don't…I don't really feel like going to school today Mom.''
JJ laughed, her head spinning a little bit as her body filled with relief and the last suffocating weight lifted from her shoulders. With the exception of the injuries she was going to take a while to get over, Emily was okay. She was really okay. A little confused, understandably. It really was over, and she was here before her and she would be able to take her home again. That future of theirs that had been put in grave jeopardy stretched out before her again. It was dizzying, only this time in a good way. The soft tears that filled her eyes this time, was happiness, as well as a little amusement that her girlfriend had seemed to revert back to being a kid. But the only thing that mattered was that she was awake and she was responding. JJ was the most thankful she had ever been to anything or anyone. She wiped her eyes a little, taking a second to look up at Elizabeth who was chuckling too, with her own glistening eyes.
''I think that's okay, Emily. Can you open your eyes?''
Emily drew in a slow, deep breath as that sensation under the strange blanket of numbness began to pierce it. Here and there, she began to feel dull aches or stabbing pains, making her feel like she had just been rammed with the preverbal truck. It took her an inordinate amount of concentration to focus on opening her eyes, and she winced slightly as she did when the bright light struck her. Along with the stabbing and dull aches, a throbbing inside of her head started up, making her realise it was all too familiar. Flashes of blurry images and muffled shouts streaked through her unsettled mind, including a bang that sounded eerily like a gunshot. Everything inside of her tensed as the hazy memories began to pile up at her, as she blinked rapidly to fight off the sting of the light. After a moment, it got a little easier and the two person sized shapes began to take form. Emily looked up at her Mother, somewhat bewildered at her presence, before glancing at JJ, whose presence immediately comforted her.
All too quickly, Emily realised where she was, and why she was there. The details were a little hazy still, but the general grim jist was there. The case details came back to her, along with her worries about it and her theory on the murders. She remembered odd things. The conversation on the plane with JJ, asking Garcia to do her magic with her computers, spit balling ideas with the team. She remembered talking to Omar and his little girl. Then after that, what she mostly remembered was pain. She remembered being asked over and over again what she had done, and she remembered maintaining her innocence. But it was hard to remember much else, the fogginess was hard to try and penetrate through. Everything turned into nonsensical feelings and noises, smudged visions. The one thing on the tail end of that, was hearing JJ's voice. Emily didn't have a clue what she had been saying, but it had been calming and loving. It seemed that even through the pain, weakness and the drugs, JJ still managed to reach her. As though she had reached beneath the surface of that ice sea and pulled her up again so that she could finally breathe.
''Oh. Right. Let's blame that on the drugs, okay?''
Emily looked at JJ as she laughed lightly, grateful as the blonde slipped a hand over her own, gripping their fingers together ever so lightly considering the cast that was covering her broken arm. That soft touch though, felt like a hug. It made her grounded, swept away the floating anxieties that always accompanied visits to the hospital. It reminded her that she was safe and that JJ had her, like she always did. Somehow, and Emily was only just placing bits and pieces back together, she knew it was JJ that had been the one to see her through every single eternal second she had spent in the confines of a horrid room and overpowering drugs. Like she knew it had been JJ to set her free from them.
''Yeah I think you deserve a free pass on that one. How do you feel?''
Screwing her nose up a little, Emily revelled when her lovers other hand moved up to stroke gently over her face, trying to put her at ease and wanting that physical connection after it had been stolen from them for so long.
''Not wonderful, that's for sure.''
''You in any pain?''
It was a blatant lie, Emily knew. However, she had never really been one to admit just how much pain she was in, physical or emotional. Maybe it was one of the things she had learnt from her Mother, who had always been so stoic and withholding with her problems, her feelings, her own pain. Even when her Father had left, Emily remembered her Mother going about her life and duties in the exact same way as she always had. There was no use wallowing, she had said. Emily had been twelve, and she had most certainly wallowed, but only to herself. She had seethed too, furious at her Father for abandoning them, even though she hated him.
Shaking off the memory that had encroached upon her Emily looked up at JJ again, who was shooting her with a completely unconvinced and unimpressed look, obviously seeing straight through her automatic answer about being in pain. Switching her gaze over to her Mother, Emily was mildly dismayed at seeing the same look. Apparently, and rather shockingly, her Mother and her girlfriend had banded together.
''This isn't fair.''
She grumbled softly as she tried to discretely wince through a surge of pain that swept up through her. The two women at her bedside just rolled their eyes, as her Mother leant forward and pressed the call button on the wall. Secretly, Emily thought it was a good thing that there didn't seem to be any tension between the two women in her life. She wondered briefly about what they had talked about, she guessed aside from her, and just how her Mother had been treating her girlfriend. Still it couldn't have been bad if they were getting along, unless they were doing so for her benefit.
''Can I have some water?''
It struck her as wickedly ironic, asking for water. Anyone including her would have thought she had had all the water she could have stood already. However, her throat and mouth were uncomfortably dry, and she had that shrivelled feeling you got in your head when you woke up after a night of heavy drinking and thought you were dehydrating. As the weight of what she had been through caught up to her and her Mother turned to pour out some water, Emily looked up at JJ, only to be met by deep, understanding yet weighted blue eyes. Silently they exchanged the gravity of simply everything they felt, for each other and for the momentous ordeal that was finally over so they could move on together. It was surprising, the conversations you could have without muttering a word. Emily found the intensity in JJ's eyes so solid that she felt like she could physically hold onto it, felt like it would take her by the hand and wrap her up protectively until she was ready to step back into the world again.
''Excellent, you're awake.''
Their moment was broken by a rather cheerful, unsuspecting nurse that strode forward to turn off the call for aid. She smiled warmly at Emily as she looked up at her as she checked the monitor before pulling out a pen torch that sat in her tunic pocket.
''Do you feel nauseous? Have any pain or anything?''
The older woman asked, leaning in to flash the little torch in still hazy brown eyes, making their owner cringe slightly in discomfort, not yet being able to handle such bright and sudden movements. She remained still as the nurse did a routine once over on her, but tensed up, gripping onto JJ's hand tightly.
''Not nausea. I'm in some pain though.''
''Okay, I'll get you some medication sorted out. Do you know where you are? Can you tell me your name?''
Emily nodded as best she could, then instantly regretted the movement that caused her head to pound even more than it had been. Pushing aside the thickness clogging up her mind, she fetched up all the information that the nurse could possibly ask to make sure she was with it.
''Yeah. I'm in the hospital in New Jersey and my name Emily Prentiss. I think I'm okay, honestly. I know who the President is…unfortunately. And I can tell you what my address is, my social security number and stuff like that.''
Emily neglected to mention that thinking hurt right now, and she couldn't place anything much after she had been abducted. Then again, she figured that was as much to do with the fact she was kept drugged as it was the blow to the head she had sustained. Evidently though, the nurse bought it because she smiled at her warmly, and slightly teasingly. She seemed like a nice woman.
''You're just showing off, now! Okay, well that's good. You're tough, we like that around here. I'll let your Doctor know and he'll be by to talk to you, okay?''
She replied sweetly, managing to make Emily feel comfortable enough to relax a little bit. She knew it was ridiculous, both her uneasiness with hospitals and therefore the people in it, and also being uneasy with the unfamiliar human contact after what she had been through. Logically, she knew the nurse wasn't going to hurt her, she didn't believe for a second she would. But she couldn't help her bodies' tension, flinching lightly seemingly at anyone that she didn't know and trust.
''Yeah, okay. Thanks.''
The nurse nodded and left the room again, giving Elizabeth the opportunity to come up and stand next to the bed again, holding out a cup of water. She had put a straw in there, and helped her daughter get it in her mouth so that she could take some sips of the water.
''Do you remember what happened?''
JJ asked softly, both catching on that Emily hadn't exactly offered up certain information to the nurse and wanting to know how much she did remember. It wasn't exactly something she wanted Emily to remember, being that she had been put through so much. Maybe it was just one of those times where less was a good thing.
''Not really. I remember talking to Garcia one moment, and then the next thing I knew I woke up in that house. I don't even know what happened.''
Emily admitted finally, giving her Mother a thankful look before she looked at her girlfriend again. The whisper of memories came back to what she remembered in the moments before things went blank and waking up in that room.
''He blitzed you with chloroform. We figure he came up from behind.''
It made sense. Emily knew she hadn't been paying as much attention to the things around her than she supposed she should have been. Then again, it had all happened to fast that it could have happened in the same way. There had been no evidence other than an eerie feeling that something was about to happen, not really enough to go pulling your gun out in the middle of a supposedly empty street.
''How long was I there?''
It still felt like an eternity. It felt like it was still in her. It felt like there was a small chance she could just be unconscious, right there on the floor or slumped in that chair. Maybe she was dead? Though she doubted this would be her version of the afterlife. It was a funny thing, that. She had thought about it before. Emily wasn't especially religious. To be honest, she wasn't at all. Faith and spirituality however, that was different. However, during a philosophical talk with her college roommate one night, she had come to this conclusion. If heaven and hell really existed, and you somehow wound up in hell to be punished for some unspeakable evil, you could get out of it. See, in hell you were punished by your worst fears and nightmares. So if you convinced yourself that your worst nightmare was something you actually liked there was no need to suffer. And if you went to heaven, you were rewarded with what you wanted. So either way, you did pretty well. So Emily thought now that her afterlife would clearly never contain a hospital. So she ruled out that possibility quickly, she was definitely still alive.
''Around 24 hours.''
She remembered him asking her, over and over, questions about his wife. Dolton and what she had done. It was blurry and inconsistent, but she remembered. Still, it didn't answer her question fully. And it felt like maybe, if she understood, she would be okay. She had come to do her job and it had gone drastically wrong. But she knew before hand that it could happen. She had the best resources to help her with the aftermath, friends and JJ. And apparently she had her Mother too, which was a welcomed surprise. Emily felt like she could overcome the physical injuries with time. But the emotional ones were different. She needed to know properly, understand the reasons that she had basically been tortured for a day. And with that knowledge, that understanding, she could move on. She was strong and motivated, and she had an anchor that was there to help her.
''He was following Dolton. Anderson was responsible for killing those five girls. Gideon thinks there's more. But Kate Anderson was killed by Detective Dolton and his friends. Payback. So he killed Delly in return. He started loosing it when his wife was murdered. He saw you with Dolton, figured you were working with him. The moment Dolton left you out on your own; it was the perfect chance for him.''
Recognising the need in Emily's eyes, JJ tried to sum up as best she could enough that would give her some peace of mind right now. When she was strong enough JJ knew there would be some kind of statement Emily would need to make. She also knew her girlfriend would demand to look into the reports, wanting to see or be part of the debriefing. She needed it to let go, and JJ could understand that. Now was not that time though. Emily was too tired, still reeling from what had happened.
''I remember he kept asking me to confess to being involved. I wouldn't.''
Letting her eyes drop from JJ's, as though she didn't want to give her a window into her memories, Emily thought back once again trying to focus the blur. She didn't want it infecting JJ too, knowing how scarily astute she was at picking up things even from the look in her eyes. It was hard to think back though; she didn't have the energy it took to sort out the confusion. There was too much.
''Well your stubbornness may have saved your life. If you had played along, he probably wouldn't have kept you alive that long.''
''See, I told you it was a quality.''
Deciding to try and leave it behind for just a little while, for just until she had built her energy up again, Emily looked back up at JJ to reply playfully. It was nice to see her smile and roll her eyes, shaking her head faintly at her antics. Right now wasn't the moment to dwell ridiculously over what happened. Right now was the time to appreciate the chance to be together. She looked across at her Mother, who had so far remained silent so that she had been able to talk with JJ. From the thoughtful lookin her eyes, Emily knew that her Mother had been watching their interaction, and found it relieving that she seemed okay about it.
''You didn't have to come all the way up here.''
Elizabeth simply shrugged faintly, dipping her head as though it was some casual thing that had brought her up here.
''Well where else would I go when I get a phone call saying my only daughter is being held against her will by a mad man?''
The Ambassador responded dryly, but with a wealth of unspoken emotion behind the words. Emotion that she knew Emily picked up immediately. And even though it still scared her feeling so exposed, making her heart thumb against her chest, Elizabeth felt good about it. Her heart dipped at the childlike, vulnerable and expressive dark eyes that peered up at her affectionately.
Again Elizabeth smiled, this time lovingly as she moved a strand of dark hair out the way of Emily's face. Suddenly feeling somewhat braver about letting her daughter see her own vulnerability, and after the little pep talk she had received from Jennifer, Elizabeth looked at her daughter genuinely.
''There's nowhere I would rather be, Emily.''
She whispered softly, letting Emily see some of what she had been looking for all these years. Apparently, her daughter was so stunned that the only thing that she could do was look at her intently, not being able to respond verbally. Elizabeth cleared her throat then, after a few seconds rolled by and the weight of the air caught up with her.
''I'm going to go find somewhere to call your Father. Let him now you're okay.''
The moment was well and truly shattered for Emily, who upon the mention of her Father, did her best to scowl and pout.
''You told him? Why would you do that?''
''Because, like it or not, he's your Father Emily. He needed to know. Don't worry, I'll tell him you're perfectly okay and you don't need his help.''
Elizabeth promised, slightly exasperated by the reaction. There was hating someone enough to not talk to them, but she did expect Emily to understand why she had had to tell her Father. Yet she was only met with Emily's usual resentment on the subject and she knew she would get nothing else.
''I can't believe she told him.''
Emily muttered petulantly, making JJ smirk ever so softly in amusement. Not out of Emily's feelings toward her Father, but to the simply adorable way that she was pouting like a kid in a temper tantrum.
''Honey, he probably would have seen it on the news anyway. That's not what you should be thinking of right now anyway.''
She soothed kindly, gaining Emily's attention again. As soon as their eyes met once more, she saw the look inside tired brown orbs change from one of annoyance and bitterness to that of softness and love.
''I guess you're right. Are you okay?''
Thank softness and love held a noticeable concern, which both touched JJ and made her internally roll her eyes, exasperated that she was worrying over her. Then again, JJ knew how Emily's mind worked. She was a thoughtful person, and a thoughtful girlfriend.
''You don't need to be worrying about me, either.''
Even though JJ knew she would have been asking the same thing in Emily's position, she didn't want her worrying about her right now. She had already been through enough, she was exhausted and she wasn't going to benefit from worrying when she didn't have to. But from the look in her eyes, JJ doubted that she was going to get out of this one without talking about it and giving her a proper answer.
''JJ, I know what I would have felt like if it were you.''
Looking down at the polished hospital floor, JJ sighed slowly as she tried to collect her thoughts and feelings together. At Emily's mild confrontation, she knew that she was going to have to answer. Like she knew Emily, Emily knew her. And once again part of her felt pissed off that Emily knew she needed to get something out, whereas the other part was thankful and touched. She had hoped that it wouldn't be this soon. She had hoped that Emily wouldn't notice, wouldn't be so selfless because all she really wanted her girlfriend to do was concentrate on herself. JJ wanted to be there for her, without Emily having to take her own stuff on board too. Clearly though, that wasn't going to happen. And their relationship had never fallen like that once, she doubted it ever would. They could fight and hurt each other, spend hours lost in their own world of passion of love, of comfort, but they never let each other fall. No matter how they were feeling, what strain they were under, they would still stop and take on more for the other.
''It…it wasn't easy, let's put it that way. Knowing you were out there, all alone with him, I nearly lost it a couple of times. And the thought of loosing you? I mean, our jobs are dangerous and all, but it really sank in, you know? 24 hours is a long reality check, believe me. And I kept thinking, 'does she really know that I love her? Really feel it?'. Because I say it everyday but I kept thinking it might not be good enough. It might not get across that I really do, like in ways I can't possibly describe because there's no words adequate enough. But underneath all of that, I refused to give up. And I knew somewhere, somehow, that you wouldn't either. And good lord how much am I rambling right now? I must've got it from you!''
Caving in, JJ looked back up and said the little bubble of things that had demanded to be shared. It made Emily smile, probably because she went a little red when she realised how quickly she was talking and how it had turned more into a ramble. That wasn't usually her style, it was Emily's. And with the flux of emotion, JJ once again rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand to try and remove the tears that had formed there, before letting out a soft and shakey breath. The wiping away the tears didn't work too well, more filled and rolled out slowly, but this time she didn't do anything about it. Like she had needed to cry outside of the hospital as a vent for all that had happened and knowing Emily was going to be okay, she needed to now too. The soft tears were representative of her relief that Emily was awake and talking to her, making it sink in that she really was okay. Like she had just needed this last one thing to believe it.
''It was sweet rambling. I'm not the only one that apparently knows how to make a girl feel special.''
JJ smirked widely, her mind casting back to the moment she had said that to Emily. It seemed like a forever ago. In the past 24 hours she had completely forgot about much of anything else, including the great weekend they had shared before arriving at New Jersey. It was odd really, because that's what she had been fighting for. What they had both fought for. That was them, together. And now they had it back, together.
''I feel it, Jennifer. You use more than words to show me you love me. I feel it every single second. And that's why I refused to give up. I have something pretty special to fight for.''
That was pretty much the bottom line. That in built stubbornness that she had, and having what she did with JJ had been Emily's saving grace. It wasn't perfect all of the time, but that's what was the perfect thing about it. And what JJ made her feel, what she gave her and showed her every single day had remained consistent and unbreakable. It had been ever present in that room with her, holding her in the palm of its hand. Unable to stop the physical, but sure as hell maintaining the emotional, right down to the wire. It was invaluable and Emily knew she may never have survived without that there. Without the knowing of how much JJ loved her, or how much she loved her back. It definitely was something special to fight for, and Emily knew that if she had to go through anything like that again for it she would do so willingly.
''I love you.''
JJ broke through Emily's thoughts, voice thick and cracked, summing up simply what the brunette had been thinking and feeling. That right there was what she would always fight for, always come back to. On the brink of destruction that was always what caught her. When her heart broke that was always what caught her. When she didn't think she could take anymore of what they saw on the job, that was what always caught her.
''I love you too.''
4 months later
Gripping their guns tightly, Emily and JJ made their way along the hallway balcony of the large, old and gutted house as quietly as they could. Both hunched forward slightly, training telling them to duck low and keep into the wall as not to be seen from below. There were soft echoes from the floorboards beneath them which were as bare as the surrounding walls. Breeze filtered in from various windows, a couple of which were just holes in the wall, waiting for new glass to be fitted. There were various things here and there from the absent workmen and decorators that were renovating the old house. It was Sunday, after all.
Emily stopped on one side of a door, leaning against the wall to face JJ as she came to a halt on the other side. With a knowing look, they nodded at one another, communicating silently what they needed to do. And silently, Emily gripped hold of the door handle, inwardly counted to three and then flung the door open, giving JJ the chance to rush into the room first, with herself following closely. Their guns aimed their direction, and within seconds they had the room clear. It was covered with cotton painter's sheets, and looked halfway to being finished. Emily turned back to the door as JJ lowered her gun, and closed it as quietly as she good before sliding the bolt that remained their from whoever the previous tenants had been.
''Hiding out in here should keep us safe for a while.''
JJ murmured, too preoccupied with looking around at the work being done in the large room to notice the look in Emily's eyes as she turned around from the door again. If she had spotted it, she would have recognised it instantly.
''Safe from them maybe, but not really from me.''
Before she even saw it coming, JJ felt the shot hit her at the side of her abdomen. A little shocked, she looked down and saw the purple splodge of paint dripping down the black protective vest she was wearing, before looking back up and raising an unimpressed yet amused eyebrow. She tried her best to look mad, but she knew she was smirking at the same time.
''Think that was funny, huh?''
The playful smirk Emily held was nothing but cheeky and seductive, which was a little bit of a potent mix. JJ tried to hold her composure in tact as she watched her girlfriend start to advance toward her in what could only be described as a predatory way. So predatory that it sent shivers down her spine.
Still, not one to be outdone, JJ lifted her own paint gun up and squeezed off her own round, hitting the brunette square in the chest with a splodge of yellow. Then, in a pathetically girly manner, she squealed as she was rushed upon. Emily grabbed her around her waist so fast that they spun around in a little circle, before collapsing onto a heap of drop clothes, both laughing hysterically.
''You know, having a paintball contest with your friends doesn't usually constitute a house warming. But it's definitely fun!''
JJ remarked, now having disregarded her gun, her mind fully concentrating on the woman on top of her. She stretched out both comfortably and slightly teasingly beneath Emily, who made herself at home on top of her as soon as she had gotten comfy. She didn't protest either, as she pulled at the little Velcro straps of the vest, that ran down her side, keeping the thing on her. They weren't exactly FBI issue or anything, but were just enough to stop anyone from getting pinged in the torso by the paint bullets.
''I think, since we're both out of the game now, we'll have to create out own 'fun'.''
Emily purred, sending another shiver down JJ's spine. A wide, knowing smile crept onto her face as she tilted her head just enough to let her girlfriend kiss down her neck slowly.
''Ah ha, you're just on a mission to 'christen' every room in the house. Don't think I haven't noticed, Prentiss!''
The blonde half sighed, half laughed, once again failing to protest as Emily somehow managed to push aside the vest and duck her hand under the old Pittsburgh shirt she had worn for the unusual house warming. As soon as fingers found the way along her skin, JJ felt her stomach twitch. As soon as fingers found their way along her skin she found it infinitely more difficult to think properly, even though she managed to prod Emily lightly to emphasis her point that she and her plans had been discovered.
''Are you complaining?''
Emily asked all too sweetly, confident and a little self satisfied because she already knew she wasn't going to get a no in return. Because, really, JJ thought that would have been insane. It was a little funny though, that they seemed to be working their way through the house!
What had happened four months ago had now become almost like a distant memory. Emily had made a fine recovery after a lot of rest and some effort on her part in getting back into shape. The only real problem she had encountered were some damage to some of her nerves where she had been stabbed, and the aching of her ribs every time she had tried to do strenuous exercise. Things that were now long past. They had both worked through the emotional fatigue it had caused, and after a couple of months Emily had passed her psychological review and had found herself starting back at work. It was just after then that JJ had declared that waiting a few months to talk about moving in together was a complete waste of time. Within the first month of looking around, they had found the house they were currently in and fallen in love with it, despite it needing to be completely gutted and refurbished. They had taken it as a good thing though, because it gave them the opportunity to do what they wanted with it.
Both of them laughed lightly, amusement quietened and taking second place to the exploration of mouths and tongues. As Emily's hand moved higher under JJ's t-shirt, JJ's hand found a warm slither of skin that was left exposed between her vest and jeans. With the outside world happily forgotten, lost in their own little paradise, they gave way to sensation, desire and feeling. Past pain was now just a memory, and they had gotten through what had been the worst time of their relationship together. It had left them with a stronger bond, if it had been ever possible. Sealed and tightened their connection. They continued on. They laughed, fought, worked, slept, lived and loved. Together.