Holidays are an expensive trial of strength. The only satisfaction comes from survival.
This is a sequel to When the Levee Breaks, because I am a horrible liar and didn't really feel like waiting until January to start this story. Reading WTLB isn't strictly necessary, but it is advisable. If, like me, you're too lazy to read an entire fic just for the sake of reading another one, then I'll give a brief description of relevant events (but seriously, you should at least read the epilogue); Emily's having trouble after the cultastic events of Minimal Loss. She admits to Rossi and Morgan that she underwent a pretty traumatic experience in the past, and then alas! She is kidnapped and tortured by the unsub they're chasing. Fun times. Read this one now.
'You have got to be joking.' Aaron Hotchner paced the office of his superior – Unit Chief Erin Strauss. He was too on edge to actually take a seat, and felt that doing so would be akin to letting his guard down in the dragon's lair.
'No, Agent Hotchner, I am not joking. Half of your team is on the verge of a nervous breakdown-'
'That's not a clinical diagnosis,' muttered Hotch under his breath.
'Nervous breakdown is a pop psychology term. It has no clinical definition.' He felt he might have been channelling Reid, pulling out some bit of trivial knowledge in order to distract Strauss.
'The sentiment remains.' She looked him in the eye, as if she knew what he was trying to do. 'Your entire team. One month. Paid vacation.'
'You need us,' he said, angrily. He was not prone to antagonising a superior officer, but for Strauss, he would make an exception.
'There are other teams.' Strauss seemed unperturbed by his outburst. She had anticipated his reaction, and prepared for it.
'One week,' he bargained.
He sat then, head in his hands. 'I don't think I could handle taking a whole month off,' he admitted.
'Then that's a sure sign that you need it.'
If he had been in a more perceptive mood, Hotch might have noticed that he was experiencing the five stages of grief. He had conquered denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. Only one stage remained, and he would have kicked himself if he had realised that he was taking it.
He nodded slowly, and left the office, ready to inform his team.
Emily Prentiss tapped her fingers on the chair of the psychiatrist's office. He was making notes on his clipboard – something she didn't exactly perceive as a good sign.
'You're still having nightmares?' he asked.
'I was having nightmares before the incident,' she argued. 'It comes with the job.'
'Have they intensified?'
He made more notes, and continued. 'I understand you suffered Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from a previous incident. This resulted in,' he flipped through his notes, until he found the previous case file. '"Psychological fragmentation, difficulty regulating emotions, isolation, dissociation..."' He stopped, letting her memory fill in the blanks. 'Does that sound familiar?'
The session continued for another half an hour, with the psychiatrist asking questions, and Emily answering them almost grudgingly. She had previously attended sessions with a civilian psychiatrist, but this was her first visit to a Bureau employee.
She jumped, startled, when he clicked his pen, indicating that he had finished with his note-taking.
'You're showing acute symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,' he concluded, and she almost sighed with relief. The diagnosis was much better than it could have been. 'I'd recommend cognitive therapy in this instance.'
'No.' She shook her head. 'Cognitive therapy didn't work out so well last time.'
The psychiatrist flipped his notes and read a short section before nodding. 'In that case, I can prescribe an SSRI.' Antidepressants.
'That's fine,' she nodded, though technically, it wasn't really her decision. He jotted out a prescription, and handed it to her.
'Make sure you get that filled,' he reminded her. She nodded. 'I'd recommend a follow-up session in one month; we'll see if you're ready to come back to work. If you have any problems with the medication, don't hesitate to make an appointment.'
While she was in the building, she elected to check in on the team. She found the bullpen surprisingly empty; only Reid was there, and he was packing up to leave.
'Hey,' he greeted her. 'How was the appointment?'
She gave a non-committal shrug. 'Where is everyone?'
'Strauss demanded we all take a vacation. Can you believe it?'
'Vacation.' She smiled serenely. 'That sounds nice. We should go somewhere,' she suggested. She wasn't specifically looking in Reid's direction when she said it, but he knew she was expecting him to answer.
'You're still on sick leave,' he pointed out.
'That's just bureaucracy. And besides, a holiday's a great cure.'
Reid had to admit, it did sound pleasant. They exited the building together, discussing possible holiday spots.