So, my muse was on a roll again. And this poured out. It is, sadly, and also happily (for me), the last chapter of this story. Yay, I finally got here! I know I left everyone hanging onto the precipice last chapter, but time had to be shifted for me to be able to write this concluding chapter...so I hope that it is ended sufficiently for all my patient and committed readers :)
Redeem and Return.
When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow, we hear sweet voices ringing from lands of long ago, and etched on vacant places are half-forgotten faces of friends we used to cherish, and loves we used to know.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Everything had happened so quickly. And yet it had happened so slowly too. With the information Emily had provided, the bodies of the victims were found. Delilah Hanover, Ariel Wannamaker, Susie Toole, Belinda Munch and Cady Plumpton were are still on Tobey O'Conner's property. The families were given peace of mind, to at least where their daughters were and what had become of them.
The team left Alleghany County as soon as they were able. Bad memories, bad experiences and bad fairytales surrounded them there. At least in the safety of the jet and their cars and their homes, they could forget, for a short while the horrors that place had wreaked in Emily's life, and consequently their own.
Morgan still could not get that final moment out of his head. He was both perplexed and amused. He and the rest of the team had just been alerted to Snow White's intentions by Garcia, they hadn't the chance to do anything, because to everyone's surprise the door to the interview room swung violently open.
A blazing inferno of righteous anger had exploded through the door, in the form of one Jennifer Jareau. She effortlessly pulled Emily away from Tobey O'Conner with one hand and proceeded to right hook the man to the face. She caught him perfectly on the jaw. The jaw that happened to be made of glass, so that at that particular point, and on that particular angle, he had gone down. Knocked Out. KO-ed, down for the fight, sleeping the deep sleep.
"You had better have an exceptionally good reason for doing that!" JJ had loudly warned Emily.
"You could have tricked him, he had already told you what we needed to know." Garcia added as the others crowded in behind her. They had somehow regained mobility in their limbs and had rushed around the wall to see how Emily was faring, in person not through glass. They wanted to see and to know if she had truly lost her mind this time.
Snow White, disturbingly, had answered them, "It was payment, not for him. From Emily to me."
"Emily owed you payment?" Rossi asked, he was nothing if not willing to follow Reid's lead in this bizarre spectacle. And since Reid didn't seem to have a problem conversing with Snow White then neither did he.
"I help her finish this. Find out what you need to know about his failures, I get to say goodbye. A proper Goodbye. Emily is stubborn and strong and a survivor, but I'm persistent and patient and this was the only way she could get rid of me." She grinned at them, the exact same way Emily did when she was about to tell a joke, or relay a hilarious anecdote. If it had been possible the team would have taken a couple of steps back to get away from this Emily, evil, doppelganger.
Morgan remembered how suddenly and sort of poetically, Snow White/Emily's head had dropped, her hand rising to her forehead in an instant headache.
JJ grabbed at her elbow, steadying her friend.
Moments passed, nobody moved.
The tall woman looked up, tired and relieved, "It's over."
"She's gone?" Reid had asked, moving directly in front of her, looking into her eyes for any sign of Snow White.
She waited a few more moments, doing a silent inventory of herself, her psyche. "Yes…I'm sure."
In the end, Hotch had decided it would be better for Emily both emotionally and mentally not return to Tobey's property. He took the entire police force of Alleghany County out to the clearing though, the cursory examine of the stone building not showing anything. It was understandable how the two police officers had not found the victims' remains. But upon further, closer inspection, small bone0like structures had been found in the walls. They had finally and properly identified the whereabouts of The Snowman's victims. It was going to take a very long time to extract the bodies and have them returned to their families.
Prentiss, after being readmitted to the hospital after pulling the stitches in her thigh, had gone through Garcia's simulation program to see if she could identify where the attic room might be. She had figure out that Garcia's program was missing a doorway in the large room. Upon closer inspection at the house by Sheriff Coulter, a false wall had been discovered. From the perspective of one trapped in the attic, it would seem like a real door opening out to the large room, but from any other direction, it was merely a void in the wall. This was how the bodies of Ariel Wannamaker (Sleeping Beauty) and Cady Plumpton (Cinderella) were discovered.
Hotch had ordered Emily to take some time off, she wasn't even allowed to think about coming back in, or even trying to come back in until two weeks had expired. Then she would have to pass the psych evaluation.
No one on the team had tried to approach her about the events in Alleghany County. They had spent time with her, visiting, shopping, dinner, movies, but no conversations about Tobey O'Conner. Emily was becoming increasingly frustrated. She could see them continuously avoiding the subject, and it was annoying. She was completely fine, she had dealt with the repercussions of what had happened to her, what Tobey had done to her, and what she had had to do to survive.
That's not to say that upon returning to her apartment she hadn't broken down, crying hysterically at what she had endured. Because she had, and it had been a perfectly normal thing. A normal and healthy release of the fears, and terror, and relief that came from experiencing a traumatic event. But she truly had dealt with the primary effects.
She would probably be wary of showering when they went out in the field from now on, possibly overcoming it in a few months, or after they'd had ten cases. She didn't really like to put time limits on overcoming trauma. She'd seen what happened to Reid when he'd pushed himself into thinking he was okay. She wasn't going to make the same mistakes as him, and she was pretty sure he wouldn't let her make them either. Spencer was the only one who openly talked about Tobey and Snow White. Reid knew how she had dealt with the pain and insecurities that her personality split had caused in her. He knew how efficiently she was coping with everything that had happened, and how well she was preparing to deal with the fallout in the future. His respect and admiration for her grew daily. As did Emily's faith in him grew and her amazement at his compassion.
Two weeks, three days later and at eleven-thirty-five in the morning at Quantico. Hotch, Rossi, Morgan, Reid, Garcia and JJ were huddled, as much as a large group can huddle, around Emily's desk in the bullpen at the BAU. Resting upon her desk was a bag, a suspicious bag, a suspiciously Emily-owned looking bag. Nobody wanted to go near. Emily had not returned to the BAU yet, she hadn't even indicated to anyone, other than Reid, whether or not she was thinking about coming back. Of course, at some point in the future she would, no doubt about that. But for the foreseeable future, she would have to see a FBI psychologist first. No one had heard any mention of that either.
So what was this bag doing here?
"Has anyone tried to ring Emily?" Morgan asked the group.
"I have," JJ replied. "It went straight to voice mail both times."
"Home and work?" Hotch inquired.
They were still standing in silent vigil, when they heard Emily's laughing lilt carried through the pen. They collectively turned to see Emily and Agent Bordeaux, one of the FBI's psychologists walking toward her desk.
"I'm glad to see how open you are to my suggestions. I was expecting more of a struggle. Most agents don't appreciated those kinds of suggestions. Especially when they know that it's actually an order." Agent Bordeaux said.
"I've experienced my fair share of following orders, I understand what is necessary even when I don't like it." Emily smiled back at him.
"Okay, well I definitely believe you're more than ready to be re-instated, with a couple of contingencies and…" he let the rest of the sentence trail off as he realized her whole team were crowding the bull pen.
"You're being reinstating?" Rossi asked incredulously, surely she wasn't ready yet.
"Apparently." She replied with a smug smile.
Before too many questions could be thrown around Agent Bordeaux intercepted them, "I've spent two sessions with Agent Prentiss, one last week outlining her ordeal, and one session today-"
"Is two sessions enough?" Hotch asked without waiting for Bordeaux to finish.
He returned Agent Hotchner's look coolly, "I am more than satisfied with my assessment. I do not believe keeping Emily from the field will help her to recover, I believe in fact that it would be detrimental."
"Look, guys. I know that you've all been avoiding the subject like the plague but I think that in this instance I need to explain a few things." Emily interjected, "and Agent Bordeaux agrees with me, let's go move out of the pen, shall we?"
The team were silent as Emily stood in front of them, she had just finished explaining how Snow White had emerged, how she had done the things needed to survive O'Conner's rage and unpredictability. How in the hospital with Reid's help she had bargained with Snow White, bought her freedom, and recognised who and what Snow White was, a construction of herself.
The kiss Snow White had bestowed on Tobey seemed to be the bone of contention for the team. Even Reid had been slightly unable to understand that too. Emily wasn't sure she would ever be able to explain that action to their satisfaction. It was a necessary expression for Snow White, but a repulsive thing for Emily.
"Look, I know that you don't understand some of the things that I had to do, the things I allowed Snow White to do. But I believed at the time that they were essential. That they were necessary to get the information we needed, and allow myself the opportunity to recover. The personality of Snow White is gone. I can assure you of that, and I am fine. I am recovered, recovering. Nothing wholly bad happened to me. I was beat up a little and held captive but nothing really horrible." She didn't know what else to say to them. Agent Bordeaux had cleared her and that was all that was really necessary, but she wanted the teams approval before she started working with them again.
The team seemed unsure of how to vocalize their acceptance of Emily. They loved her, cared about her and wanted her back on the team, but surely two weeks wasn't enough time.
"Agents, I appreciate your desire to make sure Emily is fully recuperated before she resumes working, but…Emily and I have been working together for a long time."
"A very long time." Emily interrupted Bordeaux with a smirk.
"And I know for a fact, that this apparition, if you will, of Snow White is gone. And if that is still not enough to calm your worries, then I suggest you read or reread Emily's statement. She is telling the truth, she did not suffer much more than physical damage, the degree of trauma she might have suffered could have been significantly worse. For example, she was never truly alone, she knew you were all coming for her, working toward finding her as quickly as possible. She also already had a working profile of the man, so in that respect she had clues about how to behave in order to prevent possible damage or inflammation of his temper."
Emily added, "I constructed Snow White so that I could buy the time I needed for you to get to me, and it worked effectively. I was not really in any danger of losing my life, he'd already decided he wanted me in his life." She left the other part unspoken. Everyone was aware that although, she might have been allowed to live, she wouldn't have escaped him unscathed, had the team not arrived when they did.
The team were silent still, finally Garcia spoke. "I may not understand everything that happened to you, but if you say that this is over and everything is behind you, I accept that." She stood hurriedly and hugged Prentiss. Soon every member had stood, repeated similar sentiments and given her either brief or long hugs, depending on her level of usual physical contact with them.
"By the way," Emily added, "I never did get to say…Nice right hook JJ!"
Startled, JJ laughed, "Well, he deserved it!"
"Yeah, but you knocked him right out, I didn't get a chance to do it and now I won't."
The tension in the team finally broken, laughter and humor returned. Morgan and Reid acting like goofy brothers, re-enacting JJ's marvelous rescue of Emily. Garcia grinning in the background adding pockets of instruction so that the re-enactment would be perfect. Hotch and Rossi watching over the group with fatherly sentiment. Their family was finally back together.
Agent Bordeaux slipped out of their space, knowing that he'd been seeing Agent Prentiss on a regular basis. One of his conditions for her to return to work. No one else on team might know or understand her. But he'd seen her come through a lot worse than a Snowman. The FBI were still slowly learning what could happen to their agents when people got too close to the criminal mind.
More laughter followed him down the corridor, he turned one last time to see Emily's face light up in happiness, saw it reflected in each of her team mates and knew that everything was going to be all right. Better in fact, because with each horrific event that they passed through still intact, their family unit, their connection to each other grew stronger.
They truly were a loving, caring, ass-kicking, killer-catching profiling super-team. And once again they had beaten the bad guy, saved the day and brought peace to many families and communities.
Yay, yeah, whoop! *Arc does the happy-dance around the computer* Finally, finally finished...so happy. But please review and let me know how this all felt to you, my happy little readers and reviewers!
I am so pleased, my longest story ever. I'm so proud of myself... :)