Chapter 25- If I Die Young
"This is stupid."
"Well it is." Emily crossed her arms across her chest stubbornly, staring down JJ, Carrie and the nurse. "I don't need that."
JJ rolled her eyes, Carrie smirked and the nurse just looked unimpressed. "Humor us."
Emily rolled her eyes but kept her stance. She, Emily Prentiss, was more than okay to walk out of the hospital. She didn't need some stupid wheelchair to help her.
"Em, they're not going to let you leave unless you get in the wheelchair."
JJ rolled her eyes once more before putting her hands on either side of Emily and bending over to make sure she was the only one the brunette could see.
"If you don't get in that wheelchair, I'm withholding sex."
Emily glared back. "You wouldn't."
"Oh." JJ smirked. "I would."
Emily tried to maintain her stance but gave in a minute later, groaning reluctantly as she shifted from the bed into the wheelchair.
"See, that wasn't so hard now was it?"
Emily simply glared at the blonde while Carrie laughed.
Stubbornly, Emily was out of the wheelchair the second they exited the hospital doors. The nurse almost seemed relieved. "I would say I'm sad to see you go…"
She shot Emily a smirk before walking back inside the hospital with the wheelchair.
JJ nudged her girlfriend gently, making sure to avoid anywhere close to where she was injured. "You've been awake for a week and a half and you've already ruined our reputation at this hospital!"
Carrie smirked, shuffling into the back seat of JJ's car while Emily slowly lowered herself into the front. "Actually, Jayje, I'm pretty sure you did that with your micro-managing. Believe it or not, but I'm pretty sure a nurse knows how to take a blood pressure better than you."
"The cuff was too tight!" JJ defended herself while Carrie and Emily laughed.
The blonde had been almost as much of a nightmare as Emily had been. Between Emily's constant insisting that she was fine and pushing herself in physical therapy, and JJ's micromanaging of Emily's treatment, Carrie knew that the hospital was glad to see them go. It was bittersweet, however, as the only reason the doctors had agreed to release Emily after such a short time was because of Haley's funeral which was due to occur the next day.
The drive back to Emily's house was relatively uneventful, despite Emily and JJ's "cute" bickering. Carrie rolled her eyes as JJ pulled up as close as physically possible to the front door.
She was out a second later and rushing over to Emily's side, only earning a roll of the eyes from the older brunette. Carrie couldn't help but be amused.
"Take it slow, okay?" Emily was barely tolerating JJ as the blonde helped her out of the car and forced her to walk slower than a grandmother. "Not too fast."
"I think that's snail is beating us." Emily mumbled, but JJ ignored her.
Carrie lead the way and opened the front door for Emily and JJ. She watched as Emily physically relaxed, clearly relieved about being home.
"Home sweet home."
It didn't escape either brunette that JJ had just referred to Emily's house as 'home'.
"JJ stocked the fridge." Carrie smirked. "You're going to hate it. It's all healthy food."
"Hey!" JJ defended, watching amused as Emily stood in shock in front of the fridge. "The doctor said you need to eat healthy to keep your strength up. Frozen pizza and leftovers don't count as healthy."
JJ smirked, leaning over to give her girlfriend a kiss. "You love me."
"Yeah." Emily smirked back. "But only for that ass."
"Ew! Okay, not alright." Carrie covered her ears despite laughs from both of the adults and made her way out of the room.
As planned, they decided to have a quiet night. However, Emily had eventually managed to persuade JJ into ordering takeout, despite the blonde's reluctance.
By almost 10pm, Carrie stood up from her position on the couch and looked over at the women. Emily was snoozing with her head resting in JJ's legs; the blonde lovingly yet absentmindedly stroking her hands through Emily's hair.
"I'm going to bed."
JJ looked up first, smiling lovingly. "Night, sweetheart. Sleep well."
Carrie smiled as JJ blew her a kiss before turning her attention to Emily. The older brunette stirred but was clearly still exhausted. "Goodnight, babe."
"Em?" Carrie responded after a few moments. "I'm glad you're home."
Emily smiled lovingly in response as the two older women watched Carrie disappear upstairs.
"Mmm…" JJ smiled as she watched her girlfriend begin to drift back to sleep. "Come on."
Emily groaned but JJ moved out from under her, earning a joking glare from the brunette. JJ held out her hand, smiling lovingly. "Bed?"
Emily nodded, more awake as she accepted JJ's hand and allowed the blonde to help her up. She smirked. "Think I'm still too injured for you to properly welcome me home?"
JJ couldn't hide her smirk, rolling her eyes jokingly before winking at her girlfriend.
Even though Carrie was still thrilled that Emily was home, she couldn't bring a smile to her face the following morning. It was a day they had all been dreading; Haley's funeral.
Emily made her way into Carrie's room a little after nine, sitting on the bed as she watched her foster daughter look through her closest.
"I can't believe I didn't even think to buy a dress."
Emily frowned, standing up and walking over to her daughter. She placed a comforting hand on Carrie's back before taking over, reaching in to pull out a simple dark purple dress, black tights and a black coat.
"Here." She smiled at Carrie sadly, pushing a piece of hair behind her ear. "You'll look beautiful."
Carrie nodded and let out a breath, neither needing to say anything. Emily bent forward after a few moments and placed a kiss to Carrie's forehead before leaving the teenager alone to get ready.
"Jack?" Hotch knocked on Jack's bedroom door before pushing it fully open. "We have to leave now."
Jack was sitting on the edge of his bed wearing his shirt and pants although his tie and jacket were thrown on the floor.
"I don't want to go."
Hotch sighed and nodded, bending down in front of Jack and placing his hands on Jack's knees. "I don't want to go either, but we have to."
Such a simple question, but there was no simple answer.
"Because mommy would want us there."
Jack's chin quivered but he didn't say anything, struggling to hold back tears. "It's not fair."
Truer words had never been spoken.
"I know it's not, bud. But sometimes bad things happen; things that aren't fair. Even to the people we love most in the world."
"Yeah, bud. Like mommy." Hotch picked Jack up and placed him on his knee. "But you know what? Mommy's still watching over us everyday. She's right here." He pointed to Jack's chest, smiling reassuringly.
Jack looked unsure but held his hands to his chest, trying to "hug" his mom. "Everyday?"
"Yeah, bud." Hotch kissed the top of Jack's head. "Everyday."
Jack breathed in deeply, full of sorrow. A few moments later, Hotch lifted him off of his knee and bent down in front of him, silently holding out his suit jacket. Jack obediently turned and let his dad dress him.
Carrie stepped out of the car and watched as JJ reached out to hold Emily's arm, supporting her. Emily was still recovering from her injuries, and JJ being JJ was more than over protective.
Carrie smiled sadly and accepting Emily's offered hand, gripping it tightly as they moved over to stand by Hotch and the rest of the mourners.
The hearse pulled up slowly and the pallbearers went about pulling the coffin out from the car. Hotch picked up Jack and held him tightly; he had opted not to carry the coffin in favor of his son.
Morgan and Rossi lead the way with Hotch, Jack and the rest of the mourners following the coffin to the burial area.
It was nice, Carrie noted. Respectful. The black coffin was simple but elegant, and everyone wore black as a sign of respect. She held in her hand, like every other one of the mourners, a white rose; innocence, heavenly.
A tinge of her felt guilt when she realized she was slightly jealous. She hadn't had the chance to throw the kind of funerals she wanted for her family. At the time, she hadn't wanted to even think about it. So she left it to her family's lawyer and they had ended up being buried back in Denver.
The priest said a few words once the coffin was situated in place. JJ had moved so that Carrie was protectively placed in the middle of her and Emily, something that Carrie was grateful for. She looked up at both of the women and noticed that they were crying.
Carrie looked up as Hotch began to speak. Jack was facing the ground next to him with his Aunt Jessica's hands protectively on his shoulders. Carrie's heart broke as she watched him sniffle back tears.
"W. S. Gilbert wrote, 'It's love that makes the world go round.' And if that's true, then the world spun a little faster with Haley in it. Haley was my best friend since we were in high school. We certainly had our struggles, but if there's one thing we agreed on unconditionally, it was our love and commitment to our son, Jack."
Jack looked up at his name, sorrow clear on his face.
"Haley's love for Jack was joyous and fierce. That fierceness is why she isn't here today. A mother's love is an unrivaled force of nature and we can all learn much from the way Haley lived her life. Haley's death causes each of us to stop and take stock of our lives to measure who we are, and what we've become."
Emily squeezed Carrie's hand as Hotch spoke, neither looking at each other but both knowing what she meant.
"I don't have all of those answers for myself, but I know who Haley was. She was the woman who died protecting the child we brought into this world together, and I will make sure that Jack grows up knowing who his mother was and how she loved and protected him, and how much I loved her."
Carrie heard JJ sniffle beside her; the usually tough blonde was staring straight ahead as if she didn't even notice the tears streaming down her cheeks.
"If Haley were with us today, she would ask us not to mourn her death, but to celebrate her life. She would tell us...she would tell us to love our families unconditionally and to hold them close cause in the end, they are all that matter."
Hotch's voice broke as he spoke, struggling to hold back his emotions.
"I met Haley at the tryouts of our high school's production of The Pirates of Penzance, I found our copy of the play and I was looking through it the other night, and I came upon a passage that seemed...appropriate for this moment. "Oh dry the glistening tear that dews that Marshall cheek. Thy loving children here in them thy comfort seek. With sympathetic care, their arms around thee creep. For oh they cannot bear to see their father weep.""
Hotch let out an ever-so-slight smile at the mention of their school production. Jack moved from his aunt to stand beside his dad, taking his hand and leaning against his side.
After the speech was given, the mourners began to drop their roses onto the coffin. The team and Haley's family waited back till last before dropping theirs, each saying goodbye to Haley silently.
The mourners offered Hotch and Jack silent support with a hand to the shoulder or a hug, but neither man really noticed. Finally, Hotch picked Jack up and held him close, both looking down at the coffin.
Jack dropped his rose first with Hotch quickly following. He looked down at his son and nodded reassuringly, whispering. "Blow mommy a kiss."
Jack did as his dad asked, holding his hand to kiss it before blowing it in the direction of the coffin.
Once he was done, Hotch turned around and they all slowly made their way back to their cars.
There was to be a wake at Haley's parents' house after the funeral. While the funeral itself had been a rather private affair with only family and close friends attending, the wake was more open for anyone who knew Haley and wanted to mourn her. With Haley being the sweet and loving person she was, that meant that it wasn't a small gathering.
Each member of the team originally split up to talk to some of the other mourners, but found themselves back together after half an hour or so. Rossi was the only one missing, having taken it upon himself to make Hotch get some air.
They sat around a table in a circle, no one knowing what to say.
"What do we do?" Emily eventually spoke up.
Morgan shrugged on behalf of the rest of the group. "There's nothing we can do."
"Do you think he'll come back?"
JJ spoke up without hesitation to answer Reid's question, staring straight ahead. "Would you?"
The tone would have usually worried Emily, but she knew it was understandable. JJ was probably the closest to Haley out of all of the members of the team. Instead, she offered JJ a small sense of comfort by placing a hand on her arm lovingly.
"He'll come back." Morgan's tone was sure of it. "I just don't know what he's going to look like when he does."
Emily's comfort seemed to help and JJ spoke up again, calmer this time. "We just need to be there for him when he's ready."
A silence overcame the group again, but Carrie broke it after a few moments. "I'll be back." She whispered to Emily.
Emily nodded, forcing a small reassuringly smile.
Carrie honestly didn't know where she was going. All she knew was she needed to get away from there. She ended up outside on the decking area, accidently walking in on Rossi and Hotch's conversation.
"Sorry." Carrie mumbled.
Rossi and Hotch both looked at her and nodded that it was okay. "Carrie, have you seen Jack?" Hotch asked after a moment.
Carrie shook her head, frowning. "I can go find him if you want?"
"Thank you." Hotch nodded and Carrie turned, only turning back when Hotch called to her again. "And Carrie? Could you make sure Jack eats something?"
Carrie nodded and smiled reassuringly before setting off the find the little boy.
There were quite a few kids at the wake. It had surprised Carrie at first, but a lot of Haley's friends had young kids so it made sense.
Carrie immediately knew where to look for Jack. The little boy hadn't moved from his swing since they had gotten back from the funeral.
Jack looked up as Carrie took a seat beside him, and her heart almost broke with how sad he looked.
Carrie didn't know what to say. What did you ask a five year old who had just lost his mom? How are you doing? Are you okay?
"Are you hungry?" She eventually settled on.
Jack shook his head while he continued to look at the ground. Carrie sighed- she knew exactly what he was feeling.
"You want to know a secret?"
Carrie waited a few moments before talking again, not sure if she should even talk.
Jack looked up and nodded.
"See that star up there?" Carrie picked a random but shining star and Jack followed her gaze. He nodded. "That's my mommy. And that star over there? That's my daddy. And see the little star in between? That's my little brother, Danny."
Jack looked confused, shaking his head. "Nu uh. Emmy's your mommy."
Carrie nodded and smiled. "She is. But I have two mommy's. Emily is one of them, and my first mommy is up in Heaven with my daddy and brother."
"With my mommy?"
Carrie nodded, ruffling Jack's hair gently. "Yeah, bud. You know, I bet our moms are really good friends up there."
Jack smiled slightly, nodding. "Mommy likes making new friends."
"You know what else?" Jack shook his head and Carrie smiled knowingly. "I bet your mom is the biggest and brightest star in the sky."
Jack thought about this for a second before looking up. He looked around for a few moments before settling on the brightest star he could see and pointing. "There she is!"
"I told you she was the brightest." Carrie smiled as she watched Jack completely mesmerized with the star.
"And the prettiest."
Jack nodded as he spoke, confirming his thoughts. He stared up at the star while they sat in silence.
"Can I be a star too?"
Carrie looked over at Jack, noticing the sadness and confusion in his eyes. "One day. When you're really, really old and wrinkly."
"When I die?"
Carrie nodded, not sure how she should continue. "Not for a really long time though. But it won't matter, because your mommy is always going to be up there watching over you. She wants you to be happy while you're down here, and she'll be waiting up there for when you're ready to join her."
Another nod. "Uh huh. But not for a really long time."
That seemed to be enough for Jack and he nodded before his gaze returned to the sky.
"You know what else your mom would want you to do right now?" Carrie smiled cheekily, squatting down beside Jack's swing and tickling him. "Eat some dinner!"
Jack laughed as he was tickled, but he looked unsure once Carrie stood up.
Carrie held out her hand to Jack, smiling reassuringly. He looked at it and hesitated for a few moments before taking it and allowing Carrie to lead him inside after one last look at the star.