A/N - Thank you to everyone that has been following the story, it has been greatly appreciated. This is going to be the last chapter of this particular main story. However, I have been convinced to do a stand alone set after this in the very near future! So we'll get to see how our gals are getting along :)
Emily breathed in deeply, leisurely even, before letting the breath float out again slowly. She was so very beyond comfortable that it was ridiculous. The kind of comfortable that made you feel like you were in your own special little bubble, snug and warm and completely relaxed. The one that made you feel like you never wanted to leave it. Made you dream for a few moments that never again did you have to move for anything or anyone.
Gently, the brunette inched further into the middle of the bed, instinctively wrapping herself around her lover, weaving limps around limps. She hadn't even opened her eyes yet but there was a soft smirk tracing her lips. The smirk widened a little bit as she felt JJ snuggle back into her in response, also making her own little sigh. She loved waking up like this. When she could just drift out of slumber peacefully with the woman she loved.
There hadn't been a lot of chance to do that these past few weeks. Things had been running at a grueling pace since Archer had died. From that day, things had been getting harder and harder, the tension so heavy that it had been suffocating. Both herself and JJ were exhausted, Lauren was exhausted too. And even JJ's Mother, Edith, who had flown down to try and take some of the strain away from her daughter was tired. All four of them were flat out due to one very distraught, very unhappy little girl.
Not one of them was mad at Amelia for it. She was only five, and she had lost her Father. It wasn't as though she could completely comprehend it, either. It had all happened so quickly in her eyes too. One minute everything was fine. The next, Daddy was going to war. Then the next again, he was gone forever. The reactionary behaviour she had been displaying after Archer had been deployed had just exploded triple fold when JJ had had to tell her he wasn't coming home again.
It had been gutting for the blonde to have to tell her, pushing down her own grief and emotion for her daughter. And it had been devastating for her to take the brunt of the blame from Amelia. She had no real answers for her, couldn't tell her what she wanted to know. Couldn't help her understand fully, couldn't make it all better and take away that pain. So yet again, she felt like a failure. The optimism of some time ago had vanished, and seemed to have taken a part of her with it too.
As Amelia had gotten more out of control day by day, JJ had seemed to become emptier and emptier. The more she couldn't help her daughter, the more she closed off to everybody. She had taken a little time off from work to stay with Amelia and try to give her the support she needed. But things had just gotten worse. Amelia was unresponsive to everything anyone tried, but especially JJ. More often than not, she would turn to someone else for comfort, and it had broken JJ's heart.
Through the day, Amelia was angry and defiant, prone to tantrums that had worked up into her purposefully destroying or damaging something. She would refuse to eat half the time, and continued to make JJ bear the punishment of what had happened. Through the night, she either didn't sleep at all, or had severe nightmares if she did. To the point where she wet the bed almost every night. Sometimes she would let JJ tend to her, more often than not, someone else had to do it. It had gotten to the point where they took turns to get up.
Emily had tried everything she knew as a profiler, some of it had worked for a little while, some hadn't worked at all. But of course she had made it a point of being a support for both Mother and daughter, watching them both very closely as she did. She had tried, more or less in vain, to get JJ to talk to her about it. The blonde was so efficient at throwing up her walls that it was an almost impossible task. It was as though she had tucked everything away into a little box inside, making her more withdrawn than she had ever seen her. She wasn't sleeping properly, wasn't eating properly, and day-by-day she was convincing herself that she wasn't good enough. She wasn't doing enough for Amelia. Convinced herself almost that she wasn't good enough to be with even. The memory of that made Emily shudder.
''JJ? What're you doing down here baby?''
Emily frowned, the deep concern showing across her confused and sleepy features as she hurried down the stairs of her apartment. When she got to the bottom, she flicked the light switch that lit up the wall lamps, not wanting to put the main ones on seeing as JJ had seemingly been sat in darkness for goodness knows how long.
JJ sat, or rather slumped, by the window, her back pressed up against the glass as her knees were tucked into her chest, arms wrapped around them tightly. She barely even moved as the lights came on, didn't respond to Emily's question either. Just continued to stare despondently toward the floor.
''Honey, you're freezing…''
Emily hadn't needed to touch JJ to tell that, but she had anyway. Quickly, she moved over to the couch, pulling the blanket from the back of it before returning to her lover and wrapping her up the best she could. After she had, she sat down next to JJ and looped her arm around her shoulder, hunkering in to hopefully help warm her up, using her other hand to rub JJ's arm beneath the blanket.
''Talk to me JJ.''
The worried profiler whispered, practically begged, frowning intently as she studied JJ's face. She was pale and her eyes were tired and sullen, that usual sparkle dull now. Emily could tell that her girlfriend had been crying, from the streaks on her face and the watery glint across her eyes. The ones that turned onto her now, guilt, pain and regret all shining through at once.
''I'll take Amelia home in the morning, and the stuff I've left here. Get out of your hair.''
Emily's frown turned deeper and even more serious as a wave of panic swept through her, making her stomach dip as it did.
''What're you talking about?''
JJ snickered lightly, lacking the energy to do anything other. It wasn't really aimed at Emily though, rather than herself.
''C'mon Em, this isn't what you signed up for is it? Hell, you didn't even sign up for a kid, I blindsided you. All this…it isn't your shit to be dealing with. You won't say it, so I will.''
As JJ explained, Emily couldn't help but drop her jaw slightly as that wave of panic became stronger, aided by a healthy dose of anger and sadness and pain. She drew her head back slightly, but didn't move away from JJ even if she felt like she'd just been kicked in the gut by her words.
''Jennifer Grace Jareau don't you ever assume such a thing again, do you hear me?''
''Don't JJ, I mean it. Have you lost your mind? 'What I signed up for'? What is that even supposed to mean? I love you. Do you hear me? I love you so much that it actually hurts sometimes. You and Amelia are the most important things in my life, and I will not let you do this. I won't let you push me away, because I know how much you love me too. I know this is because you're exhausted and you're hurting.''
Both the urgency, and the slight hint of anger seemed to stun JJ a little, but also jostle something within her eyes too. Managed to pierce the fortress wall that she had built up, enough to rile a real response in JJ, make her realise what it was that she had just said.
''I can't…I can't help her, I keep trying but it doesn't work, I keep failing her. I'm supposed to be her Mother for fucks sake, and I can't even…she hates me.''
Emily pulled JJ into her instantly, wrapping her arms around her frame as she cried into her shoulder. She held onto her tightly, relieved that at least something was coming out, that something was being vented. She had watched it build up and build up inside of JJ, but she hadn't expected her to try and retreat from her like that. Even if it was ultimately an empty action, it had still scared her.
''She doesn't hate you sweetheart. She's just in a lot of pain, and unfortunately you're getting the brunt of it. She loves you JJ, you're her world. That's why she's lashing out at you. And you are an amazing Mother, okay? The way you are…I just hope that I can be the kind of Mother you are one day. I have never seen you fail, not even close to it. You're going to get her through this, and I'm going to get you through this. I promise.''
Emily squeezed JJ lightly, kissing the back of her neck gently as she did as she shook off the memory of that night that was quite some time ago now. She could smell the fragrance of JJ's shampoo as she nuzzled into the back of her neck, and it made her feel even more comfortable than she had been.
''Morning. Sleep well?''
JJ began to let her fingers stroke along Emily's forearm gently as she took in another deep breath, enjoying the gentleness of the moment. She loved waking up like this just as much as her girlfriend. And quite frankly, it was a relief and pleasure to wake up like this. It hadn't happened all too often since Archer died.
''I really did.''
''Me too. Makes a difference when you know you don't have to be up for work, doesn't it!''
JJ chuckled at Emily's amused comment, nodding lightly at just how true that was. Carefully, she turned herself around in the brunette's arms so that they were face to face. Her smile widened as she saw part of Emily's hair was fluffed up a little, making her laugh again.
JJ just continued to beam, especially as her girlfriend became mildly confused. She lifted her hand up to the unruly strands to try and straighten them out a little.
''You're so adorable!''
She chuckled again, leaned her head forward a little bit to place a soft kiss on Emily's lips. As she was about to pull away, Emily tightened her embrace to keep her there, initiating a stronger kiss that she was all too happy to respond to. Suddenly she forgot all about flattening her lover's hair and instead concentrated on their kiss and the feel of Emily's body close to hers as the older woman closed the space between them.
It was also Emily that deepened the kiss, requesting full access to JJ's mouth which was granted instantly. It was the kind of kiss that reminded them both of their first, back in whatever hotel room they had been in then, open mouthed and intense. Intimate and knowing. Through the sheer want and need in it though, was what always remained. Love and respect.
They moved seamlessly together, bodies in tune as they were caught up in the kiss that became more important than oxygen, and as hands started to roam skin. Skin that they already knew by heart, but always wanted to explore further. The comfortable bubble that had enveloped them just moments ago turned intimate and intense, the atmosphere changing along with them as the clothes they had slept in were readily discarded, along with the bedspread that had been covering them previously. Their bubble became all about passion.
''Agent Jareau, I'm ready for you now.''
JJ looked up, a slight wave of relief running along her features after finding herself far too engrossed in one of the celebrity rags. Unlike Garcia, she hated these kinds of magazines. The who's who, who's doing who, who's wearing this…she didn't have any time for them. But with a limited range this time to pick from, JJ had reluctantly taken it and sat with it in the waiting room. She just thought there was more important things to be doing than reading about someone she didn't even know.
Slipping the brash magazine back onto the side table that separated her chair from Emily's, the blonde looked at her girlfriend as a smile tugged at the corner of her mouth. Emily reflected the smirk, before following JJ's path across the waiting room to the door that Doctor Bartlett was stood at, waiting and smiling patiently.
She was older, maybe in her early sixties with salt and pepper coloured hair and kind, intelligent brown eyes. She was a pleasant woman, easy to talk to and always warm and always knew how to make someone feel relaxed. It was probably partly due to her own personality, and the nature of her job. Dr Bartlett had spent a large chunk of her career as a child psychiatrist. She was the name that people gave when someone was looking for a very good Dr to help them out. It was the name JJ had been given after Archer's death due to Amelia's following decline.
''Thank you for taking the time to see me after Amelia's session today, I know you're both very busy.''
Dr Bartlett said warmly as she shut her office door, turning to regard the couple before her. She gestured toward the chairs in front of her desk that was situated in the far corner of the room out of the way. In the middle of the room there was a table, little enough for children to sit at. There was enough room for a couple of couches and a chair also. It was bigger than the briefing room at work. Plus, there was some space around the corner, only separated by a glass wall, where Amelia was currently playing with Dr Bartlett's assistant happily.
''That's okay. Is something wrong?''
JJ wondered, the edge of concern showing through her voice as she sat down, watching the older woman as she did the same behind her desk. Of course, they had been here plenty of times, or one of them had been. JJ had talked with Dr Bartlett plenty of times, but the psychiatrist had only specifically asked to talk to her on occasion. Sometimes they had talked alone; sometimes Emily had been there too.
''No, I'm sorry if you were worried. I just wanted to have a discussion about Amelia's progression. Let me start be reiterating that you have a very intelligent, delightful daughter. I've enjoyed working with her these past couple of months or so.''
JJ smiled, glancing over to look through to where Amelia was playing. Seemingly she was content in chattering about something as she manoeuvred the connecting building blocks the assistant was giving her. It was nice to see. It was a relief to see, actually.
''Thank you, I appreciate that.''
JJ turned back to look at the Dr, who smiled with a nod as she slipped on her glasses, and glanced down at the desk as she opened a file. Both JJ and Emily looked between one another for a moment as the older woman skimmed through her notes, before taking a breath in and sitting back in her chair, taking her glasses off again as she looked between the blonde and brunette.
''You brought Amelia to me after her behaviour spiralled out of control as a result of loosing her Father. She became defiant, destructive, even offensive. Also she suffered from severe nightmares when she did sleep, but also became prone to bouts of insomnia and regular bed-wetting. Simply put, she was generally one unhappy little girl that acted out at any given opportunity.''
Dr Bartlett spoke evenly, pulling the events that had occurred after Archer's death into a fine summary, which both JJ and Emily nodded along with in agreement. They looked at one another briefly again, both just for a moment, remembering the last thing that had caused JJ to ask the FBI psychiatrist if he knew any good child psychiatrists.
''There was also the incident with the car…''
The older woman said, as if knowing exactly what was running through the couples' minds. Emily looked down at her knee for a moment, biting her bottom lip as she instinctively reached out and took JJ's hand, holding it tightly.
That would be another memory that would stay with her. The memory of the incident itself, and the following conversation she'd had with JJ, who had still been in a certain amount of shock. Understandable, given that her daughter had almost been hit by a car after running into the road.
Emily pushed the door to Amelia's room open slowly, hoping not to startle or intrude. The house was quiet, solemn even with the events of the day. To say that it had been a rough day would be putting it mildly. She had gotten to see first hand why Archer had turned out like he had. Everything that JJ had told her about his parents, especially his Mother, was true. And sitting in the office of a JAG officer Archer had been friends with, with that woman had been no small feat. Especially when the mudslinging had started over the will he had left. Over the fact that JJ had apparently 'poisoned' him, and she had kept Amelia away from him. It had been an extremely difficult few hours for JJ, given what had been going on at home with her daughter also.
The profiler though, had at least convinced her girlfriend to stay out for a late lunch, given that the meeting had run over and it had been approaching 3pm when they had finally gotten out. She wanted to try and give JJ a breather, give them both just a little bit of time together before heading home.
What had happened when they had arrived home, neither of them expected. As she pulled up outside of the house and began to get out, they both turned as they heard Edith scream Amelia's name. Only an instant later they saw why. Amelia bolted from around the back of Nancy's house, running as fast as she possibly could. And that was the instance that JJ bolted too, with Emily right behind her.
JJ had thanked anything and anyone for the fact that she had been running all her life. If she hadn't have been quick enough to close the distance between the car and Amelia, she would never have gotten to her in time. Would never have managed to wrap her arms around her daughter and yank her out of the road before the car rode past. She felt the disturbance of the air from it as it passed them by, knowing she was only an inch away from it herself. That didn't matter, what mattered was that her child was safe.
''What the hell were you doing?''
As soon as JJ carried Amelia back to the sidewalk, she put her down again, kneeling down in front of her as she held her shoulders. Immediately, the little girl began to cry, mirroring the tears in JJ's eyes too.
''You can't do that. You just can't run out like that, do you hear me? You just…you can't.''
After Amelia had mumbled being sorry, JJ wrapped her up in her arms again and held onto her distraught daughter. The pure shock ran through scared blue eyes, and everyone that had come to stand near could see that she was shaking. See that the experience had jarred her to her core, sending a wave of horror through her. It didn't bare thinking about what would have happened if she hadn't have been there, but the realisation and the scenarios all ran through JJ's eyes anyway.
JJ had taken Amelia off, leaving Emily to talk to Edith to make sure she was okay. The woman had been blaming herself for not being able to catch Amelia before she escaped from Nancy's back garden, but it hadn't been her fault. Which was what JJ had told her when she had reappeared, asking Nancy if it would be okay if Amelia stayed over. It had been a kick to the stomach for her after what had happened, that Amelia was refusing to stay with her, and would only let Emily help her get some stuff together.
That was why Emily had come back to the house to find JJ sat in her daughter's empty room, much like how she had found her sat that night at her apartment. Knees bent up to her chest, although this time holding one of her daughter's teddy bears in her arms, just staring into space.
''I can't do this anymore.''
The blonde muttered, surprising Emily because she really didn't think JJ had registered her presence.
''What do you mean?''
The brunette frowned, a twist of alarm stirring in her stomach for a moment. She watched JJ carefully as harrowed blue eyes looked up at her, and she saw the self-resentment in them, but also a newly established determination.
''That's my daughter. She my child, I made her. She's part of me, literally. I can't even…I feel her. Every second of the day, I can feel her. Because she's mine, I carried her, she came from me. She's my daughter, and she could have died today, I could have lost her.''
''She would have been gone, and that connection, that feeling, it would have still been there. Because every part of me knows I'm her Mother. I love her so much, whether she doesn't know it right now or not. I'm her Mother; I'll do anything for her. Even if that means accepting that she needs more help than I can give her right now.''
Emily stalled, approaching her girlfriend, but choosing to perch on Amelia's bed so that she could face her instead. She was still shaking.
''What do you mean?''
''I mean I could have lost my daughter today, and I'm not willing to let that happen again. I called the shrink at the FBI; his wife is a specialized child therapist. I'm her Mother, Emily. I have to get her through this anyway I can.''
That had been when something had appeared in JJ's eyes. That had startled her into knowing that she wasn't a failure as a Mother, that Amelia didn't hate her. It spurred her into action, into doing something for her daughter whether she wanted it or not. Which, she hadn't. Getting Amelia into Dr Bartlett's office and talking had been no easy feat. And yet again, JJ had taken the torrent of abuse for it, but had stood her ground.
''How do you think her behaviour is now?''
The therapist enquired, snapping both women back into reality gently, seemingly aware of them both relieving less than desirable memories.
''She seems to be doing really well, almost like she was before. Still a little quiet, but calmer. She seems happier.''
JJ answered, once again letting her eyes wonder over to her daughter. The swell of pride that hit her threatened to steal her breath, she had been through so much already and she was coming out of the other side. Her daughter was one strong little girl, that was for sure.
''And she isn't having many nightmares anymore, maybe once or twice a week if that sometimes. No real tantrums anymore, either.''
Emily added, making Dr Bartlett nod and note something down on the paper in Amelia's file.
''Amelia's teachers have reported much the same thing. She's settling into her classes properly now, responding and taking an active part in them. Talking to other students. This is great progress. How is your relationship with her now, Jennifer?''
JJ looked back at the older woman, who actually reminded her a little bit of her own Mother in her gentleness and kindness. The woman had talked with Amelia's teachers after JJ had also talked to them, explaining what had happened and asking them to be patient with her daughter. They had been more than that, for which JJ was very thankful for. And they had agreed to keep Dr Bartlett informed too, willing to help their new student in anyway they could.
''Well, I feel like her Mother again, if that's what you mean?''
The blonde responded quietly, letting her eyes drop for just a moment in shyness. Even now, even as Amelia was responding to her again, she couldn't shake off that feeling she'd had before. When she had watched her daughter turn to someone else, time and time again. It wasn't as though she resented anyone for it, or was mad at her daughter. It was something in herself. She had always been good at things. Had always been good at people. She dealt with whatever work threw at her, dealt with so many people day in and day out. Yet she hadn't been able to do anything for Amelia. She'd been destroyed by the guilt and kept remembering the look her child had given her. It was like she'd actually taken on the blame for this, when it was never her fault.
''At this juncture, I'd like to show you something.''
Dr Bartlett responded, lifting up another file and handing it over to JJ. She smiled encouragingly as the young Agent hesitated, and watched as the blonde put it on her knee and opened it carefully. JJ frowned ever so softly as she began to look through the many drawings and various pieces of things that Amelia had done in her sessions, handing some over to Emily for her to look through too.
''As strained as your relationship with Amelia was, obviously, you remained the most important part of her world. You did everything you should have done, Jennifer. Both of you did. You gave your child unconditional love and support at every turn. You gave her a safe environment for her to live her feelings. And as difficult as I'm sure it was, you gave her room to vent. You didn't belittle her feelings, didn't make her bottle them up. This came across time and time again in our sessions. I believe she's made so much progress not just because of therapy, but the effort you put in at home too. The safety net you provided her was absolutely essential. You were always her Mother, you always made her feel loved and safe. All of that is why she's going to be just fine.''
With looking through the many obvious displays of Dr Bartlett's work that Amelia had done, JJ felt a huge, almost solid, bubble of emotion rise up inside of her. The last of the older woman's words echoed in her mind, that her daughter was going to be okay. She was coming out the other end.
The day that she had decided to put Amelia in therapy, had also been the day that something else clicked inside of her. Not only had she got the strength and determination to get her child through this, she also realised that she needed to let go of certain things in order to help her do that. Like believing that she was a useless parent, because deep down, she knew it wasn't true. It had been hard to see, and she wasn't exactly an ego driven woman, but even through her modesty she knew she was a good Mother.
JJ had needed to let go of the habit of being so hard on herself. She expected perfection from herself when it came to Amelia and it just wasn't possible. It hurt because now Amelia was realising she wasn't perfect, but like he had mused before, that was okay. It was inevitable. She had just needed to remind herself.
Another thing was Emily. Her lover had been right when she had pointed out that she shut her out. It was her thing, she knew that. With more than just Emily. JJ wasn't exactly sure why or when she had become like that. She had always been private, always more on the stoic side unlike her siblings. She kept things in, mulled them over. She was introspective, and she didn't think some things were anyone else's business. But there were some things that she knew she had to start sharing. She needed to start talking too.
So she had. It well and truly sank in that Emily was there for her. That she could turn to her, and she wasn't going to run away. Finally, she had found someone that wasn't scared. Of her, of her life, of her intensity. So she had leaned on Emily, voicing every feeling she had over her emotions about Archer's death, airing out her relief. She had talked it out until it felt comfortable. Until she realised that it was okay to feel that. Because the relief was for many things. That he wasn't tormented anymore, that he would finally be at peace.
Bit by bit, as Amelia went along in her therapy, JJ almost did the same. Shedding things that she wanted or needed to let go of, trying to make herself stronger for herself, her daughter and Emily. To be more of the person she wanted to be. And it had made her feel lighter, made her feel more comfortable.
Hearing this, seeing this, when she had believed in the complete contrast of it, was overwhelming. Understanding that Amelia had always felt everything she endeavored to make her feel, was powerful to her. Made her feel like this swell of emotion inside of her was free to finally leave, letting her breath properly now. As though it was the last block fitting into a structure. It brought tears to her eyes, and she just let them roll out slowly, smiling as she looked at the pictures.
Everything was going to be fine.
''That's it baby, just like that!''
JJ cooed, a wide and bright smile joining the glow in her eyes. She laughed lightly as Amelia let out a little squeal of delight, doing something akin to a victory dance.
Mother and daughter had been out in the back garden, along with the new soccer goal post that both JJ and Emily had given up on assembling a week ago, finally just giving in and letting Morgan do it. Not without a price, of course. They'd had to listen to him go on about being 'the man', and put up with his smug grin. Still, the thing had gone up and that was the most important thing.
''You're getting it sweetheart, you're doing great.''
The blonde encouraged further, picking the ball up and rolling it back over to Amelia. She had been gradually teaching her things about soccer, and a selection of easy moves to start practicing. She still hadn't lived down the teasing from Emily about how delighted she had been when Amelia had asked her if she'd teach her how to play, after going to watch one of the games at Quantico.
JJ grinned, stepping into position in the goal. It wasn't her usual position, she was a striker by skill, but hanging in the goal for her daughter to kick to was a welcomed difference. Amelia looked fantastically cute in her little soccer kit, again, something she hadn't lived down. Apparently, according to one brunette, her excitement at picking out the various soccer attire had been hard to miss. Excitement had apparently been an understatement. But she hadn't been able to help it.
It wasn't that JJ wanted to push the sport onto Amelia, or even that she wanted her to play in any teams unless she truly wanted to. Her joy came out of the fact that this was something they could do together. This was something she could teach her daughter, and something her daughter had wanted to learn because Mommy played it. That alone was heartening in itself.
In the time after Amelia had been finishing therapy, JJ had noticed a very distinct change in the little girl. The only way she could describe it is that she had taken a step forward, past her hurdles, and she had done it well. For that, JJ would always be proud. And now, she was even more curious and inquisitive as ever. Amelia wanted to do and try everything. Especially now she had settled into school and was absorbing information like a sponge.
The latest change in her life, of course, was moving. Leaving the home that she had thus far grown up in, and into the house that all three of them had chosen.
It had been Emily that had brought it up, one night after they had been out for a night on the town with the team and some friends. And when she was asked, JJ found herself not hesitating even a little bit. Nothing had seemed more appropriate than taking the next step and moving in together. It wasn't as though they ever really spent time in their respective places alone. Emily was always at her house, or visa versa.
They had waited, of course. Until Amelia was really settled into school, when she had ended her sessions with Dr Bartlett. Waited until it was a comfortable time. And they had endeavored to involve her as much as possible. Something that seemed to have gone down really well. She had obviously felt like she had been given a say, that she had some control. And that's exactly what they had aimed to give her.
Emily had finally gotten the home that she had always wanted. The home that she hadn't had when growing up, like she had told JJ. Everything had started to really fall into place, and it felt good. Even her parents had been okay. Not overjoyed, but not detestable either. In fact, she was pretty sure that JJ had charmed them to a great degree, and Amelia had started to wrap them around her little finger. Kind of like herself and her Mother. Or pretty much anyone!
So now this was their home. They were a family. It could be chaotic, but what fun would it be if it was otherwise? Emily understood, even more so than before, the strength of the anchor it made. Understood in better detail of feeling, what made JJ cope with what she saw and dealt with. And she was right, it was torture sometimes. But the larger part was what negated that, was what became both of their saving graces.
JJ didn't run from her anymore. Didn't shut her out. She would bide her time to say some things, or still keep hold of a few things for herself, but that was okay. Good even. Emily didn't need to know everything; she didn't want JJ to divulge every single thing to her. Didn't want her to completely give up her privacy, or her mysteriousness. Because she loved those about her. Especially the mysteriousness. The way her eyes would sparkle sometimes, with something behind it that the profiler just couldn't place her finger on. And JJ knew it, she liked it.
''Oh wow, look at Mini-Jayj go!''
Smiling, Emily turned her head, surprised but not startled to see Garcia was stood next to her. She had been so deep in thought as she watched JJ teach Amelia out in the garden through the large kitchen window, that she hadn't even noticed the quirky blonde come in. Some FBI Agent! But then, Garcia did have a tendency to let herself in. And indeed, she was expected. As were the rest of the team, along with some family and friends. The official house warming dinner, that had been postponed goodness knew how many times due to work.
''JJ's certainly a proud Mamma Bear!''
The analyst continued, making Emily laugh and nod her head in agreement, now fully neglecting the chopping and preparation of food that she had been doing with some music for company.
''She won't admit it, but she's just as excited to teach it as Amelia is to learn it. Maybe more so!''
Garcia chuckled too, totally seeing that scenario as being true. As much as JJ could grumble about small town pressure during the seasons, everyone knew she had loved it. Everyone could tell she still loved it, due to her involvement at work. They way she proceeded to make the pitch hers, her unyielding concentration and endless show of skill and brilliant strategies. It was pointless for her to deny it, really.
''Word! I am here to help, my love, put me to work.''
Yet again, Emily found herself chuckling at Garcia's fine choice of phrases. She had always been taken away by Garcia, who wouldn't be. The woman was hilarious, as individual as they came, and just one of the nicest people she had ever met. She was a great friend. So it didn't take them long to start chattering away while working through the preparation, enjoying a good laugh over many things, singing along to a song or two and watching the soccer lesson before them outside.
Emily continued to inform Garcia that it wasn't just soccer Amelia was taking a shining to, but a few many other things too. Including one of her own passions, horse riding. Of course, she couldn't ride per say. Emily had ridden with her on Wicket, or as Amelia had gotten the bug, used one of the ponies at the stables. In those instances, she would be leading the pony with a guide rope, going through the motions with the youngster. Much like JJ was teaching her the motions of soccer.
She was picking up writing faster than anyone could blink, and enjoyed making up little stories. These days, more often than not, a bedtime story would be her making one up rather than her listening to one. And there was no doubt the girl had one serious imagination, which showed through in her drawings too. Her school had indicated that she had a liking to music too, hence her getting into that now also. The girl just didn't stop!
Emily realised that she must have zoned out again, because when she blinked herself back into reality, it was because of two arms wrapping themselves around her from behind. She smiled, relaxing back into JJ as she squeezed her lovingly, resting her chin on her shoulder and taking in a deep breath.
JJ said gently, squeezing Emily again softly.
JJ knew she didn't need to expand. She had said what she meant in many different ways before, but right now, she needed to say it again. She needed to portray, not for proof or anything like that, but just for it to be there, what she felt. How things had changed so drastically, not all easy, but inevitably for the better.
''Well back at you beautiful!''
The comment made both of them laugh, and Emily turned in JJ's arms and moved to catch her mouth quickly, still smiling through the kiss. JJ returned it, before pulling back and then started to tease her girlfriend a little, moving to kiss her again but pulling back at the last second with a mischievous glint in her eyes. She giggled as Emily poked her in the side, making her body flinch.
''No, no, don't you dare! Don't start tickling me!''
Emily laughed, feeling like she was winning JJ's little playful battle.
''You'd better distract me somehow then, huh?''
She pointed out, raising a knowing eyebrow. A rather smug look coloured her eyes, but JJ didn't care, she leaned in and gave Emily what she wanted. Like she would always endeavor to.
The blonde muttered between kisses, vaguely aware that they were expecting company at any second and that her daughter was outside with Garcia, but very much away of Emily's hands slipping underneath her t-shirt.
The shameless groping didn't stop, and neither did the heated kissing. But JJ started to step backward, pulling Emily with her, both blindly walking through the kitchen.
''Help me change!''
Garcia waited a couple of beats, and upon getting no response whatsoever; she lifted her head up slightly to look at her best friend. She was still alive and breathing, however, it seemed that her fellow blonde goddess was completely engrossed in something.
The oracle or all knowledge tried again, continuing to stare at her friend as she hovered by the high table they had snagged at the bar. It was moderately quiet, seeing as it was still quite early. But after finishing up the case, when they had found out they wouldn't be flying home until the morning from their current location in Texas, the team had opted for blowing off some steam.
That's how she, Garcia, Morgan and Reid had all ended up here with Detective Forbes Kent, who had offered to show them to the best rack and ribs joint in town. He had certainly been right, the meal had been amazing. Now they were just hanging out, having a good time.
That time consisted in the partaking of beer, and oddly enough, line dancing. Or, in Reid's case, attempted line dancing. Somehow, and JJ wasn't totally sure how, Detective Kent had managed to get Reid, Morgan and JJ onto the dance floor not so far away from the high table they had claimed for them to hang out at with their drinks. The owner here was a friend of his, and had put on a collection of music so that he could try and teach the Feds some moves. The decision had proved to be hilarious.
Garcia had already had her phone out to film the humiliation, both of them hanging by the beers just to let their dinner go down. Both of them having nearly split a gut laughing at the shenanigans before them.
Morgan was characteristically confident, being smug and taking the opportunity to show off as many times as he could. But, no one could deny that he was actually pretty good at it. Then again it was no surprise, they had all seen him hit the dance floor before, and the guy could move. He just knew it too much!
Emily, spurred on by being with her 'brothers' as JJ had come to observe was the air around those three, had done well also. Seemingly fascinated at watching the Detective show them the dance, and having fun repeating it. She was just as good as Morgan, if not better, but had no real awareness of it. She was in it for the silly fun, taking pleasure in just being able to relax and be goofy and geeky.
But poor Reid was of course, struggling behind. Awkward and rigid, looking as though he would rather be swallowed up whole than be put through this torture. Especially when Morgan kept teasing him, laughing when the kid couldn't repeat any of the sequences.
Finally, after the two older profilers had laughed at him some more, Emily took pity on him and took him under her wing. Slowing everything down, painstakingly so, to try and show him what to do. He tried to watch, and even gulped nervously at the part where they had to hold onto each other. Shy did not cover it. JJ thought he may have been so shy because he wasn't used to girls being all over him, even if it was one of his best friends. There was no attraction there, but Reid didn't need that to be embarrassed.
Startling, JJ spun around, eyes widened a little at the sudden intrusion of her thoughts, especially when it seemed to her to come out of nowhere. Obviously, it hadn't. Garcia rarely called her Jennifer, and rarely said it in a way that was obviously meant to pierce through dazes.
The taller blonde gulped lightly, seeing that Garcia didn't look any kind of impressed, stood there with a raised eyebrow as she held onto the round of beers she had been for. That JJ had meant to go over and help carry back, but had gotten lost in watching her friends. She blushed a little, smiling timidly as she took some of the beers away from Garcia, so that she could manage to put the rest down.
Garcia lifted her other eyebrow as JJ quickly rested the beers on the table, smiled her apology, and let her attention move onto the others again. She couldn't help but smirk at the almost whimsical look on her friends face, and liked to see how brightly her eyes were shining. The woman was practically glowing, it was nice to see. Or at least, nice to have the time to really observe it. Plus, she could practically see the thoughts running through the younger woman.
As it was, JJ was thinking. And she had been thinking for the last couple of months. About many things. About work, and her role within the team. About the things she did that she didn't even think Hotchner knew about, but how she kind of liked that. She tended to like doing the behind the scenes stuff. Every now and again it was nice to know they realised it and appreciated it, but she didn't need constant praise. She loved her job; she was devoted to her job.
She had been thinking about personal things too. Her family, how happy they were to have her finally settle down. She had nearly died when her Mother had made a comment to Emily once about how they had never expected that it would be their lesbian daughter that they had to worry about getting knocked up unexpectedly! Emily had been in stitches as both her parents had continued, poking good hearted fun at their daughter, but making the underlying point that they had never been settled that she hadn't been able to settle. Probably because they knew how she felt about that, and all they wanted was the best for her.
She had been thinking about the future a lot in the past couple of weeks. About how far they had already come, how their lives had just gelled together. How much of a family they had become. It was like it had always been that way. Like, she hadn't raised Amelia for the first five years by herself, but like Emily had been right there too. That feeling was good.
JJ loved to watch Emily and Amelia interact. Whether it was at the stables, or when they baked together, or when they could pick her up from school. Even run of the mill stuff, getting ready in the mornings, or at nighttime. Or when they did any activity together, even just watching cartoons or something. Whatever it was, the sight always touched her. She didn't think that feeling would fade either; because it hadn't since the first time she felt it. It had become pretty obvious what both of them thought and felt about the other.
It seemed alien to her now, that she had almost passed up the opportunity. That she had almost let her fear win. It seemed so long ago, too. So many things had happened, personally and professionally. And it felt better to go through it with someone by her side. That was the thing she had been thinking of mostly, when she mused on the future. That she didn't want to ever not have Emily by her side.
Emily that had lived up to her promises. Emily that was compassionate and loyal, adorable and affectionate. Emily who had supported not only her through everything, but Amelia too. Emily who would play with her hair when they were sprawled out together reading or watching TV, who would do a million little random quirks she wasn't aware of, who would whisper to her in different languages when they made love, and who made her so unbelievably happy. Emily that a million and more things within her that JJ intended to explore throughout their future.
''Oh, just look at that gorgeous hunk of chocolate steal up there, be still my lions! You just know you want to drool at his bulging…''
''Stop! Right, there!''
JJ cringed as she turned around slowly, not at all interested in what Garcia was going to refer to in the least bit. But the devilishly innocent look on her friends face as she grinned up at her mischievously told her that she was going to be on the end of her whim.
''…biceps. So Jayj, who were you drooling over up there? The good Doctor?''
Yet again, JJ cringed, screwing her nose up at the sheer idea of perving on Reid. For one, she considered him a little brother. For two, if she were interested in men, which thankfully she was not, Reid would certainly not be in her taste range. She loved the boy to pieces, but he certainly didn't spark anything for her.
''Eeew, no! Don't say things like that, it freaks me out.''
Garcia chuckled, rolling her eyes slightly as JJ quivered, her face still screwed up a little like she had just sucked on sour lemons.
''Well then, I guess it must be the ever delectable Agent Prentiss your eyes are drawn to. Or not just your eyes, anyway!''
As Garcia wagged her eyebrows up and down suggestively, JJ ducked her eyes a little, eyes darting to the floor as she blushed again. The truth was, in that moment in time, she hadn't actually been 'perving' on her lover. She had been watching, smiling at her antics, watching her interact so freely. She was proud of her, because she knew Emily had been gradually feeling more and more like she fit in. She was proud because she was aware how much her girlfriend found it difficult to socialize with people, even if they were friends. And here she was, acting like she had grown up with the boys. And she had been thinking about each and every thought that had been crossing her mind for these past couple of months.
''I'm gunna marry her.''
At the mumble, Garcia stalled, beer glass almost at her lips. She was like a frozen statue for a moment, only her slow and steady breathing giving tell that she was still alive. That and her eyes bugging out slightly, as the words she thought she had heard echoed in her ears.
''Wha…what? What did you say?''
Clearing her throat, JJ took in a deep breath as she lifted her head again. A dazzling yet still mysterious and elusive smirk tugged on the corner of her lips, and if Garcia thought her eyes had been glowing before, then she didn't even know what they were doing now.
''I'm going to ask Emily to marry me.''
The statement, comfortably confident, radiating with emotion and meaning, seemed the loudest thing in the bar even though JJ's voice itself was still light. The buzz of excitement could be seen clearly both in her, and around her.
''I'm sorry, commitment phobe, once again just to be sure I heard that right.''
Garcia requested, still in a state of shock as she put her hand up to her ear to indicate like she hadn't heard it the first two times already. It made JJ chuckle ever so slightly, rolling her tongue over her lips before shaking in another short breathe.
''Once again – I'm going to ask Emily to marry me.''
She repeated for her friend compliantly.
Because she had turned her back to the others when she had started talking to her offbeat friend, and because Garcia was so intently focused on her, neither of them even saw that Emily was standing behind them. Just a few paces behind her girlfriend, now a little dazed by what she had heard. She would have dismissed it as her imagination, that was if she hadn't have heard it for a second time. Or if she hadn't recognized that tone in JJ's voice.
Emily's throat dried up, jaw dropping a little in shock as her eyes glazed over slightly as they dropped to the floor, those words hitting her with the full force of a fire truck. They almost made her stagger back. It wasn't the words, it wasn't fear, but it was the total unexpectedness of hearing it. One minute, everyone had just been goofing off, the next she had walked over to grab a drink and see if the other two girls were okay. Little did she know she would walk into a conversation of her girlfriend's intention to propose to her.
Emily looked up again, hardly having noticed JJ say her name as she turned around. She didn't even register the cringe on the blonde's face.
''You…you really want to marry me?''
The brunette squeaked, not capable right now of hiding her genuine surprise. It wasn't as though she hadn't thought about it, she had. But she had always thought it would be either something they brought up together, or something that she would do. Something she would be the one to ask. Imaginings of moonlight walks or ridiculously romantic dinners, or maybe at home playing around in bed one morning. She had always thought she was the one that would inevitably spontaneously surprise JJ.
''I want to marry you, Emily. I want to spend the rest of our lives together; I want to add to our family. I want our future. I want to be your wife, and I want you to be mine.''
JJ answered, voice almost in a whisper but at the same time, so confident and sincere. She didn't even blink, just continued to look Emily in the eye, unwilling to drop that connection. Using the silent language they had built together to convey that every single word she had said was also felt, to the very bottom of her soul.
The two of them still stood there, JJ still with that smirk, Emily still in shocked awe with her jaw ajar, as Reid and Morgan wondered over. Both looked between the couple, then between themselves until they got up to them. As they came to a halt and no one spoke, Morgan raised his eyebrows and pointed at them as he looked at Garcia.
''Jayj just asked Emily to marry her.''
She whispered, a crack forming in her voice after having watched the display. She had practically been pushed back by the weight of emotion passing between her two friends, whose attention she gave back to.
''What she say?''
Reid whispered, frowning in confusion as he looked between JJ and Emily who were still just standing there, looking at each other. He'd never seen anything quite like it. Weren't they supposed to be excited, jumping around or something like that?
''Nothing yet, I think JJ broke her!''
Garcia responded quietly.
''I have a ring.''
JJ finally declared softly, having tuned out the mutterings of her friends. The only thing that mattered right now was Emily. So she turned, rummaging through her casual suite jacket that she usually wore with the jeans she had on. She had been carrying the ring she had picked out for two whole weeks now. Musing over when would be the best time, how she would ask. Generally getting up the nerve to ask. It wasn't that she thought Emily would say no, but at the same time she had never ever done anything like this before. Then, she had also never lived with anyone before. And certainly never loved anyone like she loved Emily.
Turning around again, the nervous blonde, aware she was trembling a little now, opened the box and proffered it out toward Emily. She smirked ever so slightly at the round of 'ooohs' from their three onlookers, but kept her eyes that were watering up on her stalled lover.
''Em, say something already or I'm getting down on my knee.''
She threatened lightly, sniffling as she smiled. The threat must have done some good, either that or Emily had just processed what was going on, because she blinked and looked up and back into reality again. This time with a definite glow in her dark brown eyes.
''Ask me again.''
JJ beamed, trying to hold back the floodgates that threatened to open. Because her gut knew that this was it. This was the moment. Their lives, yet again, was going to change indefinitely.
''I didn't intend to do this here, but it doesn't matter. Emily Prentiss, I love you with everything I am, and everything I have. Will you marry me?''
It was Emily that broke first, not being able to stop the single tear that escaped her left eye, let it roll down her cheek as it was closely followed by one on the right side. The overwhelmed brunette bit down on her bottom lip lightly, smiling softly through it as her breath caught in her chest and her head nodded lightly.
''Yes, I'll marry you.''
She croaked, the smile growing wider as she heard the words she had spoken. The words that resonated the whole way through her. The words that meant so much to their future, that portrayed what it was going to be.
Glancing for a second at their friends, JJ moved to close the gap that still lingered between herself and Emily, instantly wrapping her hands around her neck and pulling her in for a strong, deep kiss. She didn't care who else was in the bar. Hell she didn't even care they were in Texas. The woman of her dreams had just agreed to marry her, and she was damn well going to kiss the socks off of her.
Unnoticed by them, Garcia, Morgan and Reid all grinned and laughed. Morgan clapped Reid on the back, before looping his arm around Garcia and pulling her into his side, squeezing her gently as she looped her arms around him. She just beamed, still sniffling with glistening eyes, at her friends, glancing up as Morgan placed a kiss on her head and took a deep, relieved and happy breath in.
After a couple of minutes or so of pure making out, JJ finally pulled back, aware that oxygen was greatly becoming an issue. Even though she panted quietly after the kiss, she kept grinning. Didn't think she would stop grinning for quite some time, especially as she reached and took Emily's hand to lift it up.
Carefully, she took the ring from the box, which she then tossed over to Reid so it was out of her way. Looking directly into Emily's eyes again, she slipped it onto her finger, using once again their silent understanding to convey what this meant to her. To try and express just how much she loved Emily. And all she saw was the same thing reflected back to her. After everything they had already been through, she knew they would be okay. From the very first time she set eyes on Emily, she knew something would happen. From the very first kiss, she knew it would never be their one and only. From the first time they made love, she knew she would explore that body a million times and never cease to be awed. From the first time Emily and Amelia set eyes on one another, she knew Emily would be a great Mother. And from the first time they said they loved each other, she knew it wouldn't break.
JJ had admittedly lost sight of these fundamental things she knew to be true sometimes, but she also knew that she always felt them somewhere deep down. And from this moment on, she knew there really was nothing that could break them. Like she knew Emily felt and thought exactly the same things.
Reaching up, Emily cupped JJ's face, using her thumb to stroke away some of the tears before pulling her forward again, this time initiating a slower kiss, but lacking absolutely nothing. The perfect kiss for the perfect moment. Through that kiss, promises were made, and ideas for the future were shared.
Garcia, after having sniffled and cooed at her friends for another moment, watching the intense display and feeling honored to have done so, looking up at Morgan with a smirk.
''Can I bunk in your room tonight, 'cos I'm seriously not getting any sleep next to theirs!''