Chapter 1

Painful Absence


We compound our suffering by victimizing each other.

- Athol Fugard


She forced her eyes open amid the lights blinking around her, surprised at her own strength, The pain throbbing through her abdomen had begged her to black out long ago, but she'd fought hard to stay awake until 911 had arrived.

"Stay with me, just stay with me."

She could feel the gurney under her, her body being jostled as the paramedics rushed her to the waiting ambulance. It made her clench just that little bit harder, her body firmly protesting the movement it was involuntarily making.

"Can you tell me your name?"

She couldn't unclench her jaw or the pain would be just that little bit more real and just that little bit more blinding.

"Emily Prentiss."

The very small part of her mind that was coherent registered her own name and berated herself for stowing her badge in the ready bag in her trunk. It wasn't her fault they'd just returned from a case. The EMT must have found her wallet in her purse.

The darkness was fighting harder, insistently invading the edges of her mind as she tried to force her eyes open just once more. She couldn't let herself slip away, for slipping away inevitably meant a coma and she wasn't sure she'd be able to force herself awake again.

"That's a girl, keep fighting, just a little bit longer."

She wanted to, badly, but her the dark was just too strong for her to fight anymore. The last thing she remembered was someone calling for the oxygen bag before she passed out.

Derek Morgan looked around the bullpen of the FBI's Behavioural Analysis Unit, metaphorically scratching his head. Emily was never late. If anything, she was obsessively on time or early, so to see her desk empty well past nine in the morning was a sight to behold. He'd tried her cell, tried her at home and hadn't gotten an answer at either place.

"Reid, did Em mention anything to you about a day off?" Morgan asked as he returned with his second mug of coffee.

Spencer Reid shook his head, long hair falling in his eyes. "She could just be late."

"Emily?" Morgan replied with a raised eyebrow.

Reid shrugged.

Morgan sat down, even more puzzled. A few minutes later he stood again, a different destination in mind. Maybe his omniscient technie would know where his partner had gotten off to. He knocked on the door, chuckling as the blond jumped.

"What can I do for you, Sugar?"

He flashed Penelope Garcia his most charming smile. "You haven't talked to Emily, have you?"

"Not since last night before she left," Garcia answered. "Why?"

"She's not here. Did she mention taking the day off?"

Garcia shook her head, but her eyes were worried. "You think she's okay?"

"I don't know, Baby Girl. I'm going to check with Hotch, see if she's called in sick."

He came up empty handed with his boss. He'd been a little bit surprised to see the worry that formed on Aaron Hotchner's face as he answered the question. Morgan sighed. Where was she?

Aaron was worried. Emily was obsessive about being on time and had a squeaky clean record to show for it. She was damned good at her job and even more importantly, she loved it. She'd never missed a day in the four years she'd been part of the BAU. He could vividly remember Emily coming in with bloodshot eyes, a nose red enough to rival Rudolph and looking like hell, then fighting him tooth and nail when he ordered her home to get well

By noon she hadn't shown and he could feel the tension in the few members of the team that were left as he made his way to Archives to drop off reports. He could see it in Reid's stance when the young agent came in at two to get him to sign off of a few reports. Around four, when the worry was consuming him and too impossible to ignore, he picked up the phone to call Garcia.

"Find her," he ordered, indifferent to how he sounded. "I don't care what you have to do, just find her."

Half an hour later, Garcia handed him a bright pink file, eyes bright in fear and blatant concern. Aaron wasted no time in flipping open the folder and perusing the contents. Police reports, hospital files… his stomach dropped to the floor as his knees gave out and he dropped to his chair.

Emily was a victim.

Trust me, I know I shouldn't be doing this. Especially with everything I've got on the go now, but I also have time for the next month to do it. I'm ahead of where I'm posting in almost all of my stories so I'm letting myself post a bunch of them. Please let me know what you think.