Title: Shadows and Light
Criminal Minds
Emily, Ambassador Prentiss
Post Retaliation (5x11). You know who else compartmentalizes well? Batman. It isn't exactly the most conventional of family bonding topics, but they work with what they've got.

Shadows and Light

It's a little late when the doorbell rings, but Emily Prentiss is most definitely not sleeping. She'd just sat down on the sofa in front of her television, a glass of Merlot in one hand and a carton of reheated Chinese food in the other.

It's three days since the car accident that had earned her a week of sick leave, and while she's already off the painkillers, her body still protests when faced with anything more than walking at normal speed. Adrenaline kept her going through the case, but the moment they'd found Joe Muller's family, she found that every single ache and pain decided to make itself properly known. Hence, the sick leave. It's been a while since she's had more than two consecutive days off in a row, and there's a stack of DVDs that she's all set up to watch. A real nerd fare.

Emily's at a loss as to who could be calling at this time of night; the rest of the team had made their rounds in the first two days of her leave, and had been summoned to a serial arsonist case in Minnesota earlier this morning, according to the text Garcia had sent her. It's not likely to be any of her neighbors – she has little to no contact with them, and she highly doubts that any of them would even care about her present condition.

It's the person who she really really hadn't expected to see who shows up.

'Mother.' Her voice is a little stiff – a side effect of the awkwardness she'd come to associate with the Ambassador. Their relationship is a little easier now – since working in the BAU, Emily understands some things better – but she'll never be able to rid that stiffness in her voice.

She steps back to let her mother inside, the older woman's eyes locked on the still healing cuts and bruises.

'I wish you'd called me,' Elizabeth says, her tone of voice not betraying the nature of the conversation. It's still the clipped tone of voice she uses for politics. The more things change, the more they stay the same, Emily thinks.

'It's not as bad as it looks,' Emily says, and she's pretty sure that her mother is about as fooled by the words as the rest of the team had been. She may not be a profiler, but her job involves as much behavioral analysis as Emily's does.

She goes to the cupboard and pulls out another wine glass, pouring before her mother even has a chance to decline.

'I have leftover Chinese or leftover Thai,' she says. 'What's your pick?'

Though the wrinkle to her mother's brow is slight, Emily picks up on it immediately. 'It's late, and I really don't feel like cooking. It's either leftovers, or calling the nearest all-night pizza place.'

Apparently all-night pizza is even less dignified than leftovers, because there's no further argument, save for the one that happens when Emily heads towards the sofa.

'I think the table is a far more appropriate place to eat, Emily.'

Emily looks pointedly towards the television screen, the image frozen on the opening titles.

'"The Dark…" Batman, Emily? Really?'

'This movie won two Oscars. Don't be fooled by Joel Schumacher's crapfests.'

'I was under the impression that the FBI didn't condone vigilantes.'

Emily raised an eyebrow. 'If I didn't know better, I could've sworn you'd just cracked a joke.' Elizabeth gives a conspiratorial smile – it's an expression that Emily's never really seen before.

They watch the movie in silence – Emily had seen it on the big screen with Morgan and Garcia, but that had been almost a year and a half ago, and that's a very, very different situation to the one she's in now. Actually thinking about it, she's not sure she's ever actually watched a movie with her mother before today.

It's kind of depressing.

It hadn't been so much the lack of English cinemas in places like the Ukraine, but rather the fact that her mother had simply never been around. Though she understands why, it doesn't make it any easier to accept.

Just like it doesn't make it any easier to accept the fact that she'd put her own career above the prospects of starting a family a long time ago. She tells herself that she's awkward, and terrible at dating, which isn't entirely untrue, but really, she spends so much time on the job, that a good date has become something of a myth in her eyes.

It's a dichotomy. Work and home life. The job or the family. Batman or Bruce Wayne.

Her mother had chosen Batman. Emily comes to the sudden realization that she'd chosen Batman as well. They don't say it in so many words, but the sentiment remains. Her mother's not the only one at fault for their lack of contact.

'Maybe we should be more like Superman,' Emily blurts out, and her mother looks at her like she's grown an extra head.

'Is there something you'd care to share, Emily?' the Ambassador asks, with something approaching mirth in her eyes. She's enjoying herself, even if she's not about to admit it.

Emily shakes her head silently and adds to herself: Or maybe Wonder Woman.

Or maybe just human.

The movie finishes, and Elizabeth decides to take a closer look at Emily's injuries, and chides her for not being more careful. It's the maternal contact that she's craved her entire life, but it only seems to show up in times of peril.

'I'm going to clear my schedule for this Thursday,' the Ambassador announces as she leaves. 'Would you like to have dinner?'

'Sure,' Emily nods, adding with a barely concealed grin, 'And maybe afterwards I'll make you sit through Watchmen.'

Elizabeth rolls her eyes and returns the smile before stepping out the door.