Title: No Tomorrow
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Universe: Zombie Cantos
Characters/Pairing: Reid/OC, Garcia/Kevin, Prentiss, JJ, others.
Summary: The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.
Warnings: Character Death
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow
And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
Mad World – Roland Orzabal (Tears for Fears)
Must not all things at the last be swallowed up in death?
The first day of the rest of their lives
Upon their arrival in a classified location, they are all given a series of stringent medical exams. It's a little more extensive than the cursory one they'd been given at the California base – that one's main purpose had been to confirm that none of them were zombies in disguise.
Reid alone finds that he has a laundry list of diagnoses that would have sent him reeling just three years ago. He's not a hypochondriac, as such; he just likes to be aware of what's going on with his body.
They take blood and urine samples, and they give him X-Rays and MRIs. There are no horrifically significant issues, and he's shunted out quickly so that Kevin can have his turn at being poked and prodded.
He finds Jean in the mess hall, and greets her with a passionate kiss, which she doesn't entirely reciprocate.
'Hey,' Reid says with a frown. 'Is there something wrong?'
'I'm pregnant,' she manages, and for a second, it feels like his heart has stopped.
'You're pregnant?' he repeats, which, admittedly, is not exactly one of his "genius" moments. 'That's...' He pauses, unsure of the right word. More than half a million words in the English language, of which he knows a fair chunk, and he can't think of a word. 'Amazing,' he says finally. 'That's amazing.'
He pulls her close and holds her tight, as though their rescue had been some dream, and really, they're still stuck out in the middle of nowhere, and the zombies might come at any single moment and snatch her away. 'How far along?'
'Six weeks, give or take,' she says, with what he senses is relief. He remembers their conversation – it feels like it had been years ago, but in reality, it's only been about six months. His main concern had been about the lack of healthcare, but now...
Even without the lingering fear that the zombie plague might spread worldwide, there's a small part of him that's absolutely terrified at the thought of becoming a father. More specifically, at the thought of becoming like his own father. Then, he's not the same man that he had been before their world had gone to hell.
They all carry the burdens of the past – of the people they used to be. It's a little hard to reconcile with the person he is now. For all intents and purposes, their war is over.
Time to start a new life.
Their "classified military base" (which is in Germany, according to Reid, who'd calculated flight time and a myriad of other variables) is home for the next two months.
The recovery effort is apparently fraught with bureaucracy – apparently they're not the only ones who have been pulled out of the Z-zone, as some people call it. The UN had to negotiate citizenship under mitigating circumstances, which is apparently completely different from the laws pertaining to asylum seekers. Persecution on the grounds of "zombies want to eat my brains" pretty much screams special circumstances.
Still, they get to choose where they want to live, and after a long group discussion, choose Geneva, in no small part due to its proximity to the Large Hadron Collider and abundance of fine chocolate.
There's still more paperwork after that, the culmination of which finds Garcia comforting a sulking Emily Prentiss one sunny Thursday afternoon. She's staring down at a piece of paper dejectedly.
'Hey, buttercup.' Garcia slides in beside Emily and puts an arm around her shoulder. 'Everything okay?'
'Apparently I'm "emotionally unstable,"' she says, apropos of nothing. It takes almost ten minutes for Garcia to wheedle the story out of the other woman.
'Now that we're...here,' Emily says, choking back a half sob. 'I figured that since Jack...he doesn't really have a family, and I'd...' She stops, biting her lip. 'He seemed eager enough, so I put in an application for adoption, and—' She waves the piece of paper in front of Garcia, too fast for her to be able to read the words on the page. 'I mean, who the fuck wouldn't be emotionally unstable? You think some old couple in freaking Reykjavik are going to understand what he's been through.'
Garcia gives her a small smile that holds little humor. 'Sweetie, we're not going to let them ship Jack off to Iceland. We'll figure something out, even if it means I have to adopt that boy myself. You don't split up family.'
The words seem to comfort Emily a little, but Garcia still has half a mind to find the person that had rejected the adoption, and give them a piece of her mind. Failing that, she'll hack the system and ruin their credit rating, which, if nothing else might make her feel better.
Emily makes some noncommittal comment about going to the gym, which Garcia takes as a declaration that she wants to be alone. She gives the other woman a long hug, and goes off in search of Kevin.
In the middle of a secret military base in Germany, Kevin Lynch has found himself a bacon donut. It's almost incongruent with the fact that he is currently shirtless, and showing off a fairly impressive six-pack. The situation rapidly turns from silly to sexy, and Garcia marks off another location in her mental list of "places to get naughty." Some places will never get marked off, like the White House, or Mount Rushmore.
While there hasn't been any official announcement, deep down, she knows that she's never going back.
As a hacker, she'd been something of a nomad. In her mind, home is people, rather than place. It still makes her heart ache.
It always will.
It's spring when they finally leave Germany.
JJ's never seen Switzerland in the spring. In actuality, aside from trips to Canada and Mexico for work, Germany had been her first time out of the country. Not the way she'd planned it, obviously.
No, she'd planned that it would be somewhere else. Somewhere maybe a little exotic, but not so exotic that they'd get lost in the culture clash. They, of course, meaning her and Will, because babysitting duty for this romantic getaway would have fallen to an overenthusiastic Garcia, and a clueless Reid.
Now, Will's gone, and it's just her and Henry.
Well, no. That's not entirely true. It's her and Henry, and it's Reid, and Jack, and Emily. It's Jean, and Kevin and Garcia.
Everyone else is a memory.
Aside from Emily's mother, nobody else had been able to track down family, which isn't much of a surprise. The attack had happened so swiftly, so unexpectedly, that it would have taken some kind of miracle.
She lights a candle for her parents, and for her brother, and for Will. She lights a candle for Hotch, and for Morgan, and for Rossi.
She lights a candle for the survivors, because sometimes, survival is the hardest thing of all.
The hardest thing in this world is to live in it, is what Garcia had said once, and judging by the reaction from Emily and Kevin, it's a quote from a movie, or something, but it still holds true. JJ had never taken the profiler training, and she might not be a media liaison anymore, but she can still analyze behavior with the best of them.
They're all tired.
A Psychiatrist might say that it's PTSD, and maybe that's true for some of them more than others. They can't go around pretending like there's nothing wrong, like they used to. They're all fine. Freaked out, insecure, neurotic and emotional. Maybe that's a movie quote too. Movies suddenly seem to have less bearing on your life when you've lived the impossible and survived.
Escapism isn't quite what it used to be.
She, and Henry and Jack get settled into a small apartment that's near a school, and JJ manages to find work in journalism, of all things. There are a few book offers for their story – while a lot of people had been shipped out of the USA after the "invasion" not many had survived for almost three years. It's not exactly the kind of story that she wants to write – the bits that are interesting aren't tales that she's willing to recount, and the bits that aren't wouldn't make for a very good book. Sensationalist media, at its worst.
Day by day, life slowly takes the path back to normality.
Emily's psychiatrist is Austrian, and he has a bushy white beard. Once upon a time, she might have found that ironic. Aside from those two factors, though, he's as far from Freudian as it's possible to get. He doesn't focus on her childhood, or on any underlying penis envy, or anything like that.
He focuses on What Happened.
Because she knows as well as he does that Morgan and Rossi's death both had a pretty bad impact on her. Not to say that Hotch's didn't as well, but then, she hadn't been given front row seats to that one. She hadn't felt his still warm body, seen the blood pumping from his chest…
She hadn't failed him.
The point that Doctor Renner tries to make, is that she hadn't failed Morgan or Rossi either, but that's a guilt that will never fade, the same way she knows that Matthew Benton's death is her fault too, in the end.
She's only vaguely listening as he finishes the session, wringing her hands over the handle of the new cane. Her medical examinations had all but confirmed her suspicions that the leg would never be the same again.
Nothing will ever be the same again.
That's what terrifies her.
As a profiler, though, she knows what markers they look for in a psych evaluation, and, more importantly, how to lie her way through it. If Doctor Renner notices, he doesn't say anything, which is good, because hospitalization would put an annoying spanner in the works.
On the way home, she calls her mother, still in Germany, still fighting for some measure of freedom. In a way, it's almost the same as thirty years ago, only she's not exactly doing Ambassadorial work anymore. Maybe Renner was wrong. Maybe her childhood is kind of important to the situation.
It's not as though it matters.
Not now, at least.
This is the day that's been coming for a long time. Maybe since the day on the rooftop when Rossi died. Maybe since she put a bullet in Morgan. Maybe it's been coming for so much longer than that.
How nice it would be, to feel nothing at all.
Instead, she stares out over the city and feels only pain.
Things, Garcia seems to tell her so frequently, things will never be the same again.
And maybe she could have handled that when there was a war to fight, when there were unsubs to catch, or zombies to kill. Now, she might have a chance for that family she's always wanted, but deep down, she knows it will never come.
Maybe one day, they'll forgive her.
She makes it home, and pours one last drink. It's a lot stronger than any drink she's ever had, mostly because its contents were strong enough to kill a human being.
Phone in hand, she makes one last call.
'Hey, Emily. How're you settling in?'
She almost gives a bitter laugh, but doesn't. 'Oh, you know. Like that. How's Jean doing?'
'Over the morning sickness now, thankfully. I'll bring the latest ultrasound picture to dinner on Saturday.'
'That sounds nice,' she says, which isn't entirely a lie. 'You ever read Tolkien?' she asks him, which is probably a strange question – firstly, because it's Spencer Reid, and he's read damn near everything. Secondly, because it's not exactly the kind of thing you bring up in a phone call.
'Of course,' he says, and Emily can almost hear the frown. 'I read The Lord of the Rings when I was seven.'
Those are kind of heavy themes for a seven-year-old to digest. Emily didn't even read The Hobbit until she was eleven.
'The scene at the end, when Frodo is saying goodbye to Sam before he sails to the Grey Havens.'
'Emily…' Reid is a profiler for a reason, and he's pretty damn good at fitting together the pieces of the puzzle.
'The world's been saved, Reid…But not for me.'
'Emily, please don't do whatever it is you're about to do.' His words fall on deaf ears. After all, they both know that some people just can't be talked down.
'Tell them I'm sorry,' she chokes out, and it takes almost half a second to realize that she's crying.
This day's been coming for a long time.
She hangs up before he can say anything more, because she knows she's not quite strong enough to keep going if she hears his voice. That's the problem.
She's not strong enough for this.
The drink doesn't taste nearly as bitter as she'd expected.
Author's Note: Okay. This has been a pretty wild ride. Probably the most death-ridden thing I've ever done, and without a doubt the most depressing. For a while there, it wasn't going to end this way. For a while, it was going to be a Bolivian Army Ending, a la Angel's Not Fade Away, where the story ends with them about to go into battle once more. But, ultimately, this was the moment the story had been building up towards – the two very different paths taken by Reid and Emily through the Zombie Apocalypse, and the different endings they were given. Sure, I could have given Reid an unhappy path instead, but really, there are enough people Reid-whumping without me adding to the mix.
My next apocalypse story (tentatively Alien Cantos, with Rossi/Prentiss, JJ/Hotch) will be much less depressing).
Apologies for any distress caused.