Fandom: Criminal Minds
Pairings: Jennifer Jareau/Emily Prentiss
Summary: ''Love is just a Bloodsport.''
Disclaimers: All things Criminal Minds belong to people other than me. I just write stuff.
Author's Notes: Well, this is something that was originally part of a drabble I wrote in the CM music challenge. Back then, I was nudged and encouraged bySteppenwolf_20to write it full length. So here it is! It's been in the works for quite a while due to various reasons, but it's on the tracks now.
Thank You: To Steppenwolf_20 for suggesting it, Sofia_Lindsay for not letting me give up on it early on, and Heidimaggs22 for supporting me, batting ideas around, putting up with rants and waffles and for being my rock! Ta toHeidimaggs22andSofia_Lindsay for beta'ing.
A/N - This hasn't been beta'd, the lovely Heidimaggs22 has been super super super busy :)
A/N - I'd just like to say a huge thank you to each and every one of you that have not only read, but taken the time to feedback to me. All your comments have meant the world, and also been very touching, and have kept the story going in some way shape or form. I really, really appreciate the encouragement and support.
''Suffering is one of the most potentially creative forces in nature…A human being will not change his or her personality pattern when all is said and done, until forced to do so by suffering.'' Rollo May
Six Years Later
''You are like a dream
And I am just a trip that you are on
When the trip is over you will go back
To the places that you once beloved
You will look for comfort there
And when you do you'll find that it has gone
That is when you'll dream a dream
Where I am you and you are me
And then you'll know my love.''
Jennifer Jareau stirred lightly at first, too far submerged in the gloriously deep sleep that she had fallen into. It was one so deep that she was disorientated to hear the disturbance breaking through her much needed dreamless sleep. After flight delays and the inevitable chaos of organising and keeping calm not only the herd that now belonged to her, but also one supposedly 'unflappable' Emily Prentiss, JJ was truly exhausted by the time they managed to get home.
It had been early morning when they had stepped through the front door to their house, exhausted but happy to be home. After reluctantly dragging in their luggage from the car, the two FBI Agent's had left the suitcases strewn in the living room, not wanting to undertake the mammoth task of unpacking and getting the clothes through the laundry. That could wait.
Sleep came first. After a snack and making sure everyone had been to the bathroom, they had bombarded the king sized bed in their bedroom, thanking sweet mercy for its softness on which they had fallen asleep upon immediately.
Now something was daring to yank her out of her comfortable, warm and much needed sleep. An incessant buzzing joining the lilting lyrics that poured out into the air. It could of course, only be one thing. The object that had haunted JJ wherever she went, for the duration of her BAU career. The object that had caused countless amounts of jokes to be aimed her away about her intense love of whatever phone that she was using at the time.
Upon realising that indeed the noise was flowing from her phone, JJ tried to blindly and floppily move her limbs to reach across to the nightstand to grab it. They were on vacation, but since when had work ever given a damn about technicalities. JJ was just amazed they had managed to leave the country without incident.
The song kept playing to her; it was a smooth and calm song, one of her favourites and a song that had plenty of good memories associated with it. Including the dance that she and Emily had shared to it at their wedding.
Unable to decide on just one song for their 'first dance', they had just decided to pick a few and remain on the dance floor, happy to indulge the other and reluctant to pull apart anyway. It had been a wonderful day. Just how JJ had always pictured something so special. It had been private, and small, and close. Close knit family and friends, just the people that they loved. Other's had been invited to the party, but their wedding had been small, their marital relationship was not a spectator sport for the masses.
It seemed like a lifetime ago now, with all the incredible things that had happened since. But JJ often found herself letting her mind drift back to that day, one of her happiest days, with a feeling that was stronger than any buzz known to man. After all the heartache and all the effort, all the misconnections and misunderstandings, they had arrived at a place that, without sounding overly corny, was truly magical for them both. Emily's commitment issues forgotten, her own issues having been discussed and worked out leading her able to let herself actually have a life.
They just worked; it was as simple as that. Of course a relationship always took effort, but it seemed to come so naturally most of the time. Besides the everyday things, the here and there bickering, the occasional fight, it just seemed to run itself almost. They were more in tune with one another than ever before.
The demons of the past seemed to have become a distance echo.
Taking in a sleepy, staggered breath, JJ frowned as she found that she had limited ability to move. As her senses began to come back to her slowly, she began to feel the weight that was strewn across her, the warmth that it provided. God she was so comfortable, so relaxed and so very nice and warm. All she wanted to do was make that damn phone stop ringing and go back to sleep, snuggled up with her family. However, the music still sang to her, and the device still buzzed against the wood of the nightstand. So somehow, JJ cracked an eye open, seeing through the blur just enough to guide her hand to her phone as she made great effort of moving to reach for it without disturbing anyone.
Came the sleepy answer, not really giving a damn who it was on the other end. It could have been the Director of the FBI himself for all she cared; she had just been yanked out of a wonderful sleep damnit, after only what she expected to be hours of returning to the States.
''Finally! What took you so long, getting down to some 'business'?''
The playful innuendo made JJ scowl lightly, or more be it petulantly, as she listened to her friend talk. It wasn't work, it was just Claire. Which was a relief in itself, but she was still annoyed at being woken up. Not annoyed at Claire, because how was she supposed to know? But now that she thought about it, she realised that maybe now would have been a perfect time to jump Emily's bones and instead she had gone to sleep!
''Claire, listen to my voice and tell me if that sounds anything remotely 'business' orientated.''
The sleepy blonde drawled sarcastically, letting her senses start to drift back to her as her eyes fluttered open, the blur giving way with every second. Although she had enjoyed getting away, it was always nice to be back at home. The familiarity of her bedroom was a comfort.
''No, I'm sorry I obviously woke you up. Did you have a good time in France?''
JJ's fellow FBI Agent asked warmly, though beneath the warmth and the genuine wanting to know, JJ could already pick up some tension running through her tone.
''It was fantastic, we had a great time.''
The blonde smirked, now glancing down at herself and smirking at the reasons that she had limited movement capabilities. The body that was half strewn across hers, using her as a human pillow.
''Did the kids enjoy themselves?''
Reaching down, Jennifer rubbed the back of the little boy that was still sleeping soundly, despite having the phone blare into the room. She stalled for a moment, looking at him intently with that engulfing feeling of awe that often overwhelmed her when she would look at him, or either of his siblings.
Being a parent apparently never got old, it was possibly the best thing she had ever done in her life. Now they were here, JJ didn't think she could imagine a world without them. She didn't know how she had gotten along in life before their existence. They were such a fixture, such a presence, that she didn't know how it had ever just been her and Emily.
The thoughtful blonde let her hand move up to gently stroke through her sons shaggy dark hair, moving it away from his face which she could only really half see given his angle. His arm was flopped across her stomach, his body tucked into the side of hers with a leg strewn over hers. God he was so much like Emily it was ridiculous, from his features, his personality and right down to the way he would end up letting himself flop across her like the way he was doing now.
''They had a blast.''
JJ answered with unadulterated mirth in her voice, remembering the time they had just spent in France. They had ventured to the old stomping ground of Emily's Grandfather, where there were still many people who either knew, or knew off the older woman. Friends of her Grandfather greeted them with a warmth that was touching, as though they had known each other their whole lives. Their kids had had a lot to do, a lot of other kids to play with, and had enjoyed learning about their Mother's past as she told them stories about the place, and also the man that they would never meet. Of course, they had topped the trip of with a visit to Disney land, because how could they not have?
It had been incredible to just relax and enjoy themselves, no work or thoughts of serial killers and dead bodies. No interruptions to anything, which made a nice change of pace. Things had improved a little more, JJ didn't field as many out of hour's calls as she once had, given that finally the bosses had relented and given her an assistant. But the work was still as heavy as ever, and JJ was reluctant to give up any control of her office. She'd been doing it herself for so long that it was hard to go about it any other way, not because she didn't trust anyone else, but she had developed a scarily efficient style of dealing with everything.
But everyone needed time to step back, especially when they had a life that was entirely untangled from their job on the outside. It was difficult to juggle the job and a family, but they did it. They had both agreed that if the day came that it didn't work, or that their family started to make sacrifices for their job, then they would be prepared to make significant adjustments. However, so far so good. Their friends had been invaluable of course, as well as their families. Maybe the Jareau family more so than the Prentiss family, however, there had been a frail but encouraging relationship developing between Emily and her parents over the past few years.
''That's great; I can't wait to see pictures. I really don't want to burst your bubble, JJ, but…''
There it was, that strain in Claire's voice that was immediately noticeable because it seemed so contrary to how the other woman usually sounded. JJ narrowed her eyes suspiciously, wondering if the party that Claire and her husband had organised for tomorrow was being called off. It was a huge yearly occurrence that JJ had remembered happening since the dawn of time.
''Is the party off?''
''No, no it's nothing like that. It's just…god this is awkward for me. You know that I invite Delilah every year, right?''
The Agent rushed out worriedly, so much so that JJ could practically see her anxious expression and the way she would be biting at her bottom lip as she fretted. Still, JJ wasn't entirely surprised at the question. Maybe she hadn't been expecting her ex-girlfriend to come up in conversation, but she did know that Delilah got an invite every year. She had made it specifically clear when things had come to an end with the Baltimore cop, that she didn't expect or want any of their mutual friends to feel like they couldn't speak to one of them anymore. If they wanted to remain friends with Delilah, then that was really okay with her. She'd prefer it, in fact. So JJ knew that Claire and Delilah still kept in contact, occasionally got together. But so far, Delilah had never made an appearance to the summer barbeque parties that she had once loved and never missed.
Dutifully, Claire had indulged in hating JJ for a little while. After that day in the hospital, it had been a few weeks since they talked when Claire placed a tentative phone call to her friend. Apparently, she had been keeping tabs on JJ's health and progress through another friend, too worried about her to actually deny and ignore her existence. JJ hadn't made an issue out of it; all of their friends had been shocked and hadn't known what to think at first. She had lost a couple, but the majority had warmed up to Emily bit by bit, including Claire, who now loved her to death.
''I know, yeah. She um, she's never accepted though.''
JJ also suddenly began to get a sneaking suspicion of what this call was about.
''Until this year. She said she'll be there tomorrow, JJ. I didn't want you to be unprepared for that if you still wanted to come.''
JJ stared at her son as memories and feelings that she hadn't thought about for a long time eased back into her. Of course, there had been plenty of times when she had reflected on her life, her relationship with Delilah. As promised, she had never forgiven herself for hurting her in such a damaging way. As she tried to analyse everything that had happened, JJ only found it to be as tangled and complicated as it had been at the time. All connected to her past, the behaviour patterns that she had developed and left unchecked, the way she had justified her actions with Emily when really she should have stopped it in its tracks.
Jennifer knew, understood, what had happened and why it had happened. What she would always fail to understand was why she didn't approach it differently. Why she had let it go so far, not just for Delilah, but for Emily too.
Those demons of the past didn't seem too distant right now. Maybe everything caught up with you in due time, just like she had thought that day she had been shot. Delilah had always refused any kind of direct contact, and their mutual friends had always been reluctant to give much away to JJ about how she dealt with her betrayal. The words that the younger woman had thrown at her on her way out of her life still haunted her, but JJ knew that she wasn't the only one that still held demons about it. Although Emily still held no regret, she did carry a lot of remorse. It was going to worry her that the Detective was going to the party tomorrow, it was going to make her feel like seeing them as a family would somehow rub Delilah's nose in it, or highlight that Emily had somehow stolen the life she had always wanted.
''Claire, of course we're still coming. The kids are excited about it, and so are we.''
''Are you sure? I know how difficult it could be for you.''
JJ took in a breath, glancing once again to her son as she felt him stir ever so softly against her.
''Maybe, but probably not as difficult as it could be for her. She has every right to be there too. And it should be difficult for me, I'm the one that hurt her.''
There came a momentary split in her voice, portraying her sadness and the thick guilt that she still carried. It still pained her to think of the destruction she had caused in Delilah's life. However, it hadn't stopped her from moving on with her life, and it hadn't made her hesitate on creating a family either. The guilt that she felt, she would just have to learn how to carry and how to make it coincide with the happiness she felt. She couldn't be sorry for the outcome, her relationship with Emily, because she couldn't ever be sorry for the things like the little boy that was starting to wake up on her right now. It was JJ's line, she'd never be willing to apologise for her children or the joy that they brought her.
''I just had to warn you, JJ. Like I had to warn her.''
JJ nodded to herself, freezing for a second at the idea that her ex knew that she'd be present tomorrow. Had she accepted before she knew, unwilling to back out even though it would be the first time they'd seen each other in six years? Would she actually go through with it? Did she know about Emily? Did she know about the kids? Had she been informed of her condition after she left that day? After all, the last time they had set eyes on one another, JJ had been in a hospital bed.
These were questions that she couldn't ask, that she had no right to ask. She had let Delilah go, so she had no right to enquire about what she knew of the life she'd lead after her.
''Thanks Claire, I appreciate the heads up.''
''No problem honey, I'll see you tomorrow. Say hi to Emily for me.''
''I will, bye.''
Jennifer looked down at the four-year-old little boy that was draped over her, both with an expression of love and an expression of worry. Children were usually so blissfully unaware, theirs were anyway. They had no idea about their parents' dishonest past, and it had always worried JJ just how they could explain the beginnings of hers and Emily's relationship.
Did it start from that very first meeting, or did it start from that kiss in the bar that had been so unexpected but so needed? Or had it started from the first time they had slept together? The first time Emily told her she loved her? The day of the shooting? Or the moment JJ referred to them as a couple? If it was impossible for her to work out, then how could she even begin to explain it to their children?
All they knew right now, was that their Mommy's met at work and had fallen in love. All they knew right now, is that families were always different, and whereas some of their friends had a Mommy and a Daddy, it was okay to have two Mommy's. They even had a couple of friends with two Daddy's. So right now, it didn't worry them. It didn't occur to them that some found it out of sorts, wrong even. All they knew was that their parents loved them, very much, and that they were happy. They had no idea what had occurred before them. JJ was thankful that their boys had only asked superficial questions about it, and dreaded the day they required more details. How could they tell them, explain to them, that essentially, they had come out of an affair?
Before she knew it, two piercing brown eyes were staring up at her, full of innocence and sweetness and warmth. His eyes were so much like Emily's, scarily perceptive even at this young age, thoughtful and kind and already deep. They always amazed JJ, and she always felt herself get thick with emotion when she let herself think about the things she saw in her son's eyes. Pictured the boy he would be, the teenager he would be, and the man he would turn into. He was so open, so genuine and comfortable. So much so that Emily often mused that his traits came not from herself but from JJ.
Emily had been terrified about being a good parent, she had overcome so much from her past, but the thick of it was and would always remain in her head and her heart. She had been terrified that she would be as distant as her own parents had been, that she wouldn't know how to show her love. Emily had been scared that she would never connect to a child, or be able to give them the emotional stability that they required. She had been a frightened little girl for so long, how could she possibly be grown up enough to give herself to a child?
She had. Like JJ had always known she would, she had. She had watched it happen immediately, the second that Emily had held the tiny, squirmy little babies in her arms. The way she had trembled as she touched their tiny faces, the gentleness that she held them with, the look in her eyes when they looked at her or held her fingers. There really hadn't been any question on how much Emily loved them, or how easily it had come to her to show them that. Within her own family, there was no fortress to hide in anymore. Within her own family, Emily found it easy to be, and she had flourished. They adored her, truly adored her, like she adored them. Her heart wasn't closed off to them, and she taught them so much.
''Hey baby. Did you have a good sleep?''
JJ enquired softly, smiling lovingly at her son. Her stunningly beautiful little boy. Her hand lifted up and away from him a little as he began to grunt at the effort it took to shuffle around. She watched in pure amazement at his being, as he wobbled up onto his feet, before happily plopping himself down on her again. JJ grunted out a huff at being ungraciously sat on, but couldn't help but smirk at the happy, cheeky and once again energetic grin that was being aimed her way. God he could get away with murder.
''Ya I dreamted 'bout robots!''
JJ laughed, forgetting the looming situation of coming to clashes with her ex-girlfriend, in favour of running her hand through her son's hair to try and straighten it out a little. He had shaggy dark hair, a little darker than Emily's, as did his brother.
''Robots? Was it R2D2 and C-3PO again?''
JJ resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Ever since Emily had watched Star Wars with their sons, whilst she had been out of course, they had become pretty much obsessed with it. Although, she had to admit that it was outstandingly cute. They would become emerged in the story when they watched it, and get all excited and loved to play Star Wars together. If they had to be sci-fi geeks like their Mom then at least they were cute one's!
''Ah ha but there were other robotses too, it was fun.''
He exclaimed with another decisive nod and an expression on his face that JJ found extremely sweet. He had switched from sleepy to energetic in a matter of seconds, like always. JJ didn't feel the need to correct the small mistakes in her son's speech; he was only four after all. He was a very smart boy, he and his brother both, who had obviously gained Emily's aptitude and intelligence. They already spoke a lot better than their friends and the kids at school, and they could already read. Not perfectly, but still outstandingly well.
They were even picking up Emily's talent for languages, and being in France and having it around them didn't hurt. They were so open to learning about new things, but they always made sure that they weren't overburdened with learning either. They were kids, and kids needed to play just as much as they needed to be taught. They wanted their imaginations and creativity to be just as strong as everything else.
Even at the exceptional rate at which they grew up, JJ still thought there was plenty of time for all of that. Right now, they could concentrate on being happy and free and loved. The world was far too serious, far too weighty, to dump on a child as young as the one sat on her right now.
Oscar Silas Prentiss was the apple of both his Mothers' eyes, and he knew it. Just like his twin brother, Noah Felix Prentiss, knew it too. They were very imaginative and energetic little boys, and they were as thick as thieves. Everything that they had read about what could occur between twins, they could see in their boys. They had their own developing language with one another, a brotherly bond that was strong and almost tangible even at this early stage. They were smart, but also playful and extremely sweet and thoughtful. So tender toward their little sister, too.
''That's good baby boy, you wanna head downstairs and see where Mommy is?''
Oscar nodded again as he thrust his hands up in the air, not out of enthusiasm but to indicate to JJ that he wanted to be carried.
JJ scooped up her son, making him laugh as she pulled him close to her and littered his faces with kisses, tickling him gently making him squirm in her arms. Then, she cupped his little face and gave him a longer kiss, pulling back to grin at him.
''You are just too cute you little monster! I could eat you all up!''
Oscar squealed in happy alarm.
''You can't eat me Mommy!''
''Cos I is a people! You can't eat peopleses!''
JJ outright laughed at Oscar's logic, which was actually pretty spot on.
''Person, sweetheart. And I guess you're safe…for now!''
JJ scooped Oscar up again, this time to hold him as she rolled herself off of the bed, yawning lightly as she shrugged the last vestiges of sleep off. She did feel better with the nap; it had been a long haul from France given the delays that they had endured at the airport. Keeping the kids settled had been a tricky job, understandably they'd started to get tired and crabby and bored waiting around. But at least they were home now, and as JJ carried Oscar through the hallway and down the stairs, JJ began to hear sounds of life downstairs.
Already she could hear the TV on low, probably having been switched on to occupy Noah but as so often was the case, he had probably abandoned it by now. The kid was full of beans and could never really sit still for too long. He liked to investigate what everyone else was doing before he occupied himself, always the inquisitive one. Even when Emily had been packing the boys' stuff for the trip, he had sat next to the suitcase and studiously watched what she had put in there. He'd told her if he wanted or didn't want any of his own things, which was helpful, but he'd wanted to know so he'd kept her company and chattered along as she'd packed.
Getting to the bottom of the stairs, JJ negotiated the child gate that was secured there as well as one at the top. With two four-year-olds and one eighteen month old, the two FBI Agent's weren't taking any chances; they wanted their kids to be as safe as possible. So JJ closed it again mindfully after she had passed through it, then began to wonder through the house.
Part of JJ still couldn't really believe this was her house. It was massive. Emily had talked her into it, of course. After weeks of trailing around looking at all different kinds of houses, this one had apparently spoken to Emily. It had for JJ too, but the blonde had thought it was too expensive. Only for Emily to remind her that that wasn't exactly a problem anymore, gently reminding her that she after all, had married into the Prentiss family.
The brunette hadn't been trying to flaunt her wealth or act flippantly to JJ's concerns, but trying to get it through to JJ that she could consider herself comfortable and not worry too much. The blonde had always been stable, she saved and spent wisely, but Emily had never had to think about it. And although she didn't splash it around, there were things that she was adamant on spending money on lavishly, including this house. Until they had gotten married, they had lived in Emily's apartment.
Hearing some chattering floating from the direction of the kitchen, JJ changed her direction and headed for it. Still holding Oscar in her arm, who was preoccupied with playing with her hair, the blonde strode through the archway, smirking as she looked around. It seemed as though Emily had been up for a while. The radio was on quietly, and the patio doors were open letting in some of the warm mid-afternoon air circulate, and there was a glass of half drunken juice sat on the counter. There was also a sip cup for the baby and on the table toward the side; Noah's plastic dinosaur cup was practically empty.
The talking wasn't coming from the kitchen itself, however. To the side of the room there was another archway, a little smaller, leading to a utilities room. The voices were coming from there.
''Noah be careful, you practically just fell in.''
JJ heard Emily say, not reproachfully but with amusement in her voice.
Noah reeled off in response, obviously not paying much attention, but instead concentrating on whatever his current task was. As JJ walked across the kitchen and toward the archway, she could see that her son was perched on the high, sturdy shelf that rested between the washing machine and the dryer. Emily was holding their eighteen month daughter in one arm, as her other fished the wet clothes out of the washer. JJ could see that they had a little system going on, as Emily passed Noah the clothes, he threw them into the dryer that he sat closest to. She stepped up to the archway just in time to see Emily release her grip from the back of Noah's dungarees, obviously being the only thing that had stopped the little boy from toppling over into the dryer. JJ rolled her eyes and chuckled, therefore making hers and Oscar's presence known.
''Ah, welcome back the two sleepyheads!''
Emily drawled as she cast a look over her shoulder to see her wife and other son standing in the doorway. Oscar beamed at her happily, virtually throwing himself forward in JJ's arms to be close enough to reach for a kiss. Emily chuckled both at the display of affection, and the look on JJ's face as Oscar practically fell out of her arms before she managed to get a grip on him. Emily put a hand on the side of his face and planted a big kiss on the other side.
''You and Oscar were asleeps for ages!''
Noah informed JJ with a roll of his eyes as he emphasised just how long it had been in four-year-old time. The blonde chuckled and nodded, stepping forward to sit Oscar next to his brother, grabbing Noah's face and giving him the same kissy attack she had given his brother.
''Well we're not all as full of beans as you baby! What've you been doing?''
After Noah finished exaggeratedly rubbing his face, he took a big breath in as he thought about the question.
''I's been playing and helpings Mommy and I almost felled in the tumble dryer.''
The little boy informed happily. His day had been great, they had come home and had a little nap, and he'd had all the toys to himself and he'd been helping his Mom do the laundry. Which probably to most other kids would suck, but he liked throwing in the wet clothes that Emily passed him. He had played a little with his sister too, who babbled and squeaked some baby talk mixed in with real words too.
JJ couldn't help but laugh at Noah's enthusiasm for having been helping Emily out. In true typical Noah form, he knew and had had a hand in everything going on. Emily had often joked that he was growing up with JJ's organisational skills.
''You know if you fall in there you'll come out like popcorn!''
JJ warned jokingly, making both the boys laugh. They nudged at each other gently as they giggled between themselves, obviously sharing a silent and private joke of some kind. As they were amusing themselves, JJ took the opportunity to turn to her wife, smiling widely as she stepped in close to her. Lifting up her hand, JJ ran her fingers through some of Emily's silky strands.
''I would've helped you with all of this.''
She pointed out gently, seeing that a fair bit of their clothes had been through the wash already. Emily simply shrugged lightly and shook her head.
''You were tired, baby. Besides, I could only sleep for an hour, and this little one right here started to wake up too so I figured we'd come down here so we didn't disturb you. Noah followed suit about a half hour later, I'm surprised you didn't hear him holler for me at the top of the stairs!''
Emily explained, jiggling the baby in her arm. The eighteen-month-old baby had been watching her brother's at first, but now as she turned to look at JJ, she squeaked at her and held her arms out.
As JJ thought that the boys looked scarily like Emily, Emily thought that their daughter looked ridiculously like JJ. She had the same clear bright blue, piercing eyes, and the same sunshine coloured hair. Her features were so alike to JJ's, especially her smile and her general demeanour too. As she started to grow, Emily often studied their only daughter, thinking that she was definitely going to develop JJ's sense of presence. No one knew quite how to describe the natural vibe that JJ had, but they could easily see it in their youngest. The boys had begun to pick it up too, but their sister definitely had it pegged.
Grinning widely as she pulled a face at her daughter, JJ happily took hold of her and lifted her up.
''There's my baby girl!''
JJ wiggled her daughter in her arms, laughing as she heard that sweet baby laugh that was like music to her ears. There were very few things that could be as precious as the sound of children laughing, especially when they were your own. She kissed her little angel face all over, and looked between her kids as she let her calm down as she tucked her into her side.
''Seriously, you're all just so cute!''
The blonde breathed out, making Oscar squeak.
''Oh no! Run, Mommy's gunna try and eat us!''
''It's not my fault! I just love you so much and you're all just too sweet for your own good!''
Wiggling on his butt, Oscar looked at Emily with urgency as he giggled. She got the impression and quickly lifted him, then Noah off of the shelf and down onto the floor. As soon as their little feet hit the ground, they were off running. All they could hear was shouts of having to hide from their Mommy before she ate them all up. Emily had no idea what had gone on, but she laughed all the same. Not that JJ didn't normally show affection or anything, but apparently she had woken up in an extra happy mood.
''What's gotten into you?''
The brunette laughed watching JJ laugh as the boys had escaped outside into the sunshine. Even the baby still laughed sweetly.
''Just appreciating what we have, is all. I'm so, so glad that we made it.''
Becoming a little more serious, JJ turned to her wife and spoke with honest emotion. The laundry had been forgotten for now, and Emily lifted an eyebrow at the sudden switch from light-hearted playfulness to heart felt tenderness. Again, JJ lifted her hand up to Emily's face, cupping one side gently, letting her thumb stroke the soft skin underneath. Emily put her hand on JJ's side, not objecting to the kiss that the blonde stepped up close for. Their bodies pressing together lightly, sharing warmth, and letting Emily feel the quicker breaths running through JJ's body, as well as the slight tremble. She was seriously overcome with something, there was something going on in that beautiful head of hers.
''I am too, Jennifer. What's going on?''
It was Emily's turn to stroke through JJ's hair, narrowing her eyes at her both kindly and perceptively. She watched for a few seconds as JJ thought, obviously trying to get her words together.
''I just…you and these kids, and the one or two more to hopefully come…you mean everything to me. I love what we've made together. I love you, more and more everyday. You're my soul mate; I feel that, I feel you inside of me everyday no matter what. And you're so beautiful, and so sexy, and so…stunning. I'm just so thankful that we got this chance together.''
Emily gaped at her wife a little, not knowing where this little outburst of emotion had come from. JJ seemed almost overwrought, there were tears glistening in her eyes and her voice dripped with the weight of how true her words were. Emily knew that, because JJ never let it go too long without reminding her. And she also knew it because she felt the same way. She loved JJ so intently, and she loved their children. The blonde had given her things she'd only dreamt of having, she'd given her a life and together they had created their own perfect world. It wasn't cold or distant or frightening, it was just the opposite, it was everything.
''I love you too, JJ. Where is this all coming from? Are you okay?''
JJ nodded lightly, leaning in for another kiss. She didn't think she would be this affected. But the feelings and the thoughts had come sneaking up on her, leaving her to be conflicted about how she was supposed to feel. On the one hand, she had destroyed someone else to ultimately gain complete happiness. On the other, if she hadn't have done that; she'd never have Emily or these kids. And when she looked at their kids, their flesh and blood and life, the guilt began to evaporate. The guilt that she had promised to hold onto. Did that make her selfish? Did it make her even guiltier?
In JJ's head, it sounded something like this. What she had done to Delilah had been wrong, and she took full responsibility for it. But when she looked at what she had, when she looked at their children, how could she be guilty about that? If she felt guilty, it meant that she had to let a little regret in, didn't it? And if she let regret in, didn't that reflect on her kids? JJ couldn't handle that.
''Claire called. Delilah is showing up at the party tomorrow.''
Emily had insisted on driving. Usually they would take it in turns, or maybe decide on who was less tired. Technically speaking, JJ should have driven; after all, she'd had the longest nap. However, Emily had insisted on driving. Emily had insisted on a lot of things tonight.
It had been the brunette's suggestion to go out for dinner. They still hadn't completely unpacked yet, and there were limited supplies in the house to cook with given that they had only arrived home that morning. It had just seemed like the easiest thing to do. So after they had given the kids a little snack to be going on with, each having a coffee for themselves, they'd spent their time with them and one another. Emily hadn't said a word about the party; she had erected a wall around that delightful issue and decided to go into radio silence about it. Much to JJ's concern.
It had been quite some time since Delilah Forrester had come up in conversation. JJ wasn't even sure when had been the exact last time, perhaps when Emily had found an errand photo of the Detective amongst their things as they were spring cleaning. That had been well over a year ago now. It had been when their daughter had only been a couple of months old.
Jennifer had never been able to understand why Prior had never used their sister's name for one of his kids. She had never understood why anyone in her family hadn't touched it. Not up until the day that she had found out that she had been carrying a girl, anyway. And instantly, it became so easily clear to her that she could have slapped herself in the face for not realising before. They had left it for her, everyone, whether it had been a spoken pact or just an unspoken understanding, had made sure that she could be the only one to use the name of the long lost Jareau.
It had seemed so natural to call the baby Tarrin. When brought up in conversation by JJ, Emily had acted like there had never even been a question of what they would call a girl if they were graced enough to have one. It was just fitting, and JJ hoped that somewhere her sister would be pleased. Maybe this could be a second chance for Tarrin to gain the happiness she had never truly felt, to experience and enjoy life the way she had never been able to.
Maybe it was a second chance for them all. Tarrin Ella Prentiss was a chance to make it right.
The baby, as well as the boys, had drifted into sleep not long after Emily had pulled out of the parking lot of the diner. It had been a nice dinner; the boys had been full of activity but not boisterous, just enjoying their dinner and the time with their parents. Tarrin had been happy and chatty, happy to sit on first Emily's knee to eat, then JJ's after she fussed for her. Now after all the chatter, silence had filled the car.
''Are you okay?''
JJ dared to venture softly, still studying Emily's pent up features. Her jaw had practically locked as she gripped the steering wheel and burnt a hole into the road with her eyes.
The response was far too quick, far too defensive and far too clipped. It even startled JJ a little bit. Delilah was usually a soar subject, for one or both of them depending on what was mentioned. Over the years, both of them had been graced and burdened by hindsight. JJ had spent a lot of time and effort figuring out what made herself work, and why she had made the choices she had. Emily had spent a lot of time grappling with the idea of if she had stolen something from the younger woman, or whether she had crow barred issues between them to get her way. She hated to admit it but some of Delilah's parting shots had always remained with her.
Their beginning together was not a fairytale. There had been no sweet romance, no slow and thoughtful seductions, not really. Their friendship more than anything had been the most honest thing, anything after that had been them jumping in bed together and making a lot of excuses as to why. Maybe it wasn't that simple, of course it was complicated, but one could boil it down to that if they really wanted to.
''You haven't said anything about Delilah attending the party.''
JJ pointed out, lifting an eyebrow, as Emily's knuckles got even whiter as she gripped the wheel.
''I don't want to talk about it. It's fine.''
The blonde sighed lightly, letting it go. Emily apparently wasn't going to let up, she was in no mood to talk and JJ knew that in her current disposition, she'd get nothing from the brunette. She'd have to let her brood for a little while longer. So the younger woman turned her attention to stare out into the darkness of the evening.
Maybe it wasn't just the subject of Delilah that had ruffled Emily's feathers; maybe it had brought back too many painful memories on the tale end of a fantastic family holiday. It was an imposition, an invasion of what they had together. And ironically enough, it's what Emily knew she had been to Delilah. An invasion and imposition upon her relationship, one that she had eventually ripped away from her.
Upon arriving home, Emily pulled into the driveway and parked up. Instead of getting out as quickly as possible, as JJ had expected her to do, the older woman just sighed slowly as she starred out to the garage door in front of them.
''I shut her down pretty harshly the last time I saw her, is all. I shouldn't have been so…cruel, I guess. Or arrogant. I was cocky and smug, I'd beaten her and I had you. I was smug over that, JJ, after I told her that you couldn't be won. When you were lying in a hospital bed after almost dying for me. I was smug about that.''
Maybe JJ had been right all those years ago, when she had called her a hypocrite. Emily felt like one as she blurted out the truth. She had looked at Delilah with that shining in her eyes, like some dangerous predator, like she had enjoyed ripping her life apart. After she had gotten through repeatedly telling the Detective that JJ's heart was not a toy to fight over, that she had to give it as it couldn't be taken or won. That was the reason she had never justified anything to the younger woman that day in the hospital, it was why she had shut her down so harshly. It was what she had been holding onto, deep, deep down.
''It was a hard time, Emily. Maybe that was part of it, you and her were always challenging of each other, the confrontation…the competition, it was bound to happen. Maybe it was wrong but you've never treated me like an object, okay? If you had, I wouldn't be with you now. And ultimately, that's why I left her for you, because you saw me. Hey, you see me.''
JJ reached across the space of the car and gently caressed the side of Emily's face, trying to instil some logic about the situation and the time. It was hard to hold everything that had happened up to some logic. All three of them had been guilty for the wrongs they had committed, and all three were innocent and wrongly done by too. There was no black and white, only differing shades of grey.
Not exactly having it resolved, the two sighed slightly and exited the car. JJ scooped Noah up out of his car seat, bracing herself slightly as he clung onto her sleepily. He was getting so big, they all were, it amazed her how fast they grew. Yesterday he and Oscar had just been tiny little babies, and she and Emily had been exhausted, awed and terrified, as they'd tried to keep up with them. Now they were four, with distinct personalities and presence.
Emily did the same and thought much the same thing as she picked Oscar up, getting him in her arm securely as he wrapped himself around her. Then, she reached in and unclipped the baby holder that Tarrin currently slept in, locked the handle and lifted her out too. Shutting the car door with her foot, it was JJ who locked it after being given the keys, and Emily followed her wife up to the house.
From there, it had been a steady stream of quiet activity. After getting Tarrin comfortably in her crib, the two women had taken their sons to their room, now experts in changing sleepy or just flat out asleep children.
Emily smirked as she put Oscar into his bed gently after changing him into his pyjamas that had planets and comets all over them. She was about to cover him up when he looked up at her through tiny slits in his eyes, looking confused and tired as he dragged in a haphazard breath.
He muttered quietly, looking around with the cutest frown on his forehead as he tried to reason why he was here after he probably remembered being in the car. Emily smirked, running her fingers through his hair gently as she leant on the side of the bed. It was a cabin bed, not too high of course, but the boys loved climbing on up their little ladders to get into bed.
''Hey buddy, we're home now, you can go back to sleep.''
''Can I sleeps with Noah?''
The request was unsurprising and sweetly muttered as Oscar obviously drifted just above sleep. The boys had their own rooms; they had their own everything, actually. Many times though, they ended up having sleepovers. Emily and JJ had asked them last year if they wanted their own rooms or if they still wanted to share one, it was the choice they had made for themselves, but it didn't go to say that they always stayed in their separate bedrooms. They were still little and obviously they still wanted the company, Emily could imagine that it felt safe to be around your twin.
''Kay baby, up we come.''
Dutifully, Emily lifted her son back out of bed, grunting just faintly as she lifted his weight onto her and turned to carry him out of the room. They were getting so big, it was just plain scary. It seemed like a long time ago that this had all happened. A long time ago that they had decided to start a family, since the day she found out she was pregnant. Emily had enjoyed those months, they had been enlightening and special and overwhelming. Of course, twins had never been planned but they knew that it was a probability given that she had gone through the process of insemination. Twins was just fine with her, though. Noah and Oscar were amazing little beings, tiny representatives of what she and JJ had together.
The profiler too dreaded the day that their sons would get curious enough to ask real questions about their relationship. So far, they had been as open as possible with them. They'd had the talks about why they had two Mommy's and the talks of why they sometimes had to go away for work, and talks about how much they all loved one another. If one or both of the boys asked something serious, like the 'where do babies come from', Emily and JJ had tried to be as honest as they could. They'd already been asked some difficult, and amusing, questions, things the boys had picked up on or heard from somewhere. They couldn't be shielded forever, but they were also just kids. So the two tried to balance that out.
Emily had to admit that it scared her to have her family around someone as dangerous as Delilah Forrester. Obviously not dangerous in an actual threat, but she represented so many things. She was the living example of how people could hurt one another, and they really had. The boys had never seen that before, they trusted their parents and believed in them. If Delilah said anything, it could alter their perceptions. Emily didn't want to be perfect in their eyes, she really didn't, but she did want them to trust her so that when it came to telling them the truth about things, the hard answers to their questions, they could believe her. JJ had grown up in an environment full of cheating and silence and misunderstanding, she didn't want that for their children.
Blinking, Emily looked at JJ as the blonde halted in the corridor, having Noah sleepily clinging to her. She smirked in amusement, obviously having had the same plan as Emily and Oscar. Noah too had asked to be with his brother. Laughing lightly, the younger woman turned around and went back into Noah's room, closely followed by Emily.
''It's freaky how they have the same ideas, isn't it?''
Emily questioned lightly, placing Oscar into the bed from one side as JJ did the same with Noah on the other. They watched as they shuffled close, finally flopping into sleep as they pulled the cover over them.
''Very! They're getting so big, aren't they?''
''I was just thinking that!''
Emily squeaked quietly, making JJ laugh again.
''Freaky how we have the same ideas, isn't it!''
The blonde repeated slightly in teasing, narrowing her eyes for a moment, the electric in them danced mirthfully and it halted the nagging whisperings in Emily's head for a moment. Sometimes all she would need to do was look at JJ, and everything in her head just stopped. All her worries and fears and sadness would feel better for a few precious moments, giving her the reprieve that she needed to continue on.
She may have been living a stolen life, but god help her she was thankful for it. Colour her a thief if this was the loot.
''How did they get to be four, Em? And who do I complain about that to? I have issues with our little boys growing up so fast!''
Emily snickered, letting her eyes linger on the slumbering kids for a little longer before she looked back up at JJ. There didn't seem to be any anticipation in her eyes, in fact, surprisingly they had become somewhat unburdened, it seemed. Whatever she had been feeling earlier, it was gone now. Briefly or permanently, Emily didn't know yet.
''How did Tarrin get to eighteen months? It's just not right!''
It was true. All of a sudden Tarrin had gone from being a tiny baby to being a toddler that was up and on her feet already, exploring anything and everything she could, feeling out words and putting them into some logical order. How the hell had that happened? A walking talking little girl who had grown into that overnight. Soon she would be the four year old, which meant the boys would be on their way to being seven. It was just a terrifying thought all around. No one ever told you how to prepare yourself for watching this development happen so quickly.
''It's a conspiracy; they're plotting against us! They're sneaky!''
JJ quipped, almost ready to half believe it.
''I'm done, Emily. I'm done apologising, I'm done justifying and proving and feeling sorry for what we did. I can't do it anymore, I refuse to. Look at what we've done. Just look at what we made. How can anyone tell us that it's wrong? I'm so proud of our children, and I can't imagine life without them or you. If nothing had changed back then, there would just be three unhappy people and none of this would exist. Our kids wouldn't exist. I can't accept that, so I'm just done. I'm still responsible but I have to let it go now, we've paid our dues Emily, we're allowed to be happy and thankful that we ended up together.''
JJ announced quietly, but still with a firmness of belief behind her voice. She had been reasoning about it all night, going around in circles as she'd been playing with her kids, talking to her wife, just enjoying the day and the meal they had gone out for. This was the result of that thinking. There was no way she could continue having the feelings she had been carrying around for so long. Maybe she would never forget, and maybe she would always hold that responsibility, but everything else? She had to let it go, for her family.
Whatever her issues, JJ knew she should have been responsible enough to end everything before it had gotten so far out of control. She knew she wasn't happy with Delilah; she should have ended it right at that realisation and then figured out why. But she hadn't, and what happened had happened. She had fallen into bed with Emily, repeatedly, turned to her, trusted her, leant on her, all the things you were supposed to do with your lover.
Not once had the brunette hurt her like Delilah had hurt her, and not once had she failed to show just how much she loved her. Emily was mindful and loving and ridiculously sweet. She remembered every important thing, she remembered every anniversary, and she found every detail about her not just fascinating but essential knowledge. As she always had, Emily had listened and encouraged and inspired. For the first time, JJ had felt like she could be herself, she felt so supported that she knew that anything she wanted to do or try, Emily wouldn't hold her back.
Emily had never put her in a box.
She had been there every single day through her recovery after she had been shot. She had organised everything, she had been there through the nights, every time JJ had been in pain. She had been there through the physiotherapy, supporting her effort and being her rock. JJ had been able to focus on her as she had been putting her life back together. Bit by bit her body began to feel hers again, began to feel under her control. And all the dark times, the low times, the times when she had been angry about being so 'weak', Emily had been there to argue with her. JJ had shouted at her more than once, told her to stop bothering her and babying her, but Emily had just stood fast, knowing JJ never meant it but it was just an outpouring of emotion.
When JJ had been back on her feet, Emily had been there to go walking with her, go jogging or running or sparring, or whatever she had needed to do until she had dragged herself back up to the fitness level she had been at before any of it happened. Luckily, there had been no real long-term pain in her leg, she'd accepted the IM rod well and mostly forgot it was even there. Her body had adjusted to having just one kidney quickly, in medical terms she had practically bounced back. The tough part was pushing through the pain and making the effort to get going again.
Emily knew her, she just knew her, and JJ hadn't realised how hard it was, how exhausting it was, to keep the pretence and the walls up until she had let them go. She hadn't realised how much of herself she had cut off for Delilah, almost like creating emotional tourniquets to stop the blood loss and the poison. It had been literally true, what she had said that day when she had been hurt; Emily really had fixed her heart. It wasn't sentiment or some corny thing to say, it was true.
''You saved me, you didn't steal me. This is our life, okay? We have nothing to be ashamed of.''
The blonde added, voice thickened with truth as everything had been going through her. That was her ultimate stance, the definitive conclusion that she had come to. Yes, they had done some wrong, but they had also done some right too. They hadn't been completely innocent, but they hadn't been completely guilty either. All three of them had been the good and the bad, and the ending had always been inevitable. The ending that would lead to Emily and JJ being together, because from the first moment, it had been glaringly obvious. The rest? It had just been a story to live and to tell.
''Actually I think you'll find that you saved me.''
Emily contradicted dryly, the essence of a smirk tugging at her lips as her dark, penetrating eyes sparkled with a renewed confidence. It was their life, JJ was right. And along with her wife Emily wouldn't and couldn't be ashamed of it.
''Oh don't make me kick your ass Prentiss.''
Emily quirked an eyebrow at JJ's retort.
''Hey, you're not the bionic woman, okay? You couldn't kick my ass if you tried!''
The profiler laughed lightly as JJ dropped her jaw in playful offense, scoffing lightly as she stepped back, beginning to walk backward toward the door.
''Just for that, you don't get the surprise I got for you in France! A surprise you would have had a lot of fun taking off me!''
Quickly, the teasing blonde ducked out of the bedroom, leaving Emily to try and get her mind to catch up with her. Bolting quietly out of the room, she pulled the door so it was almost closed before she listened carefully to see if she could hear where JJ had gone.
If it was possible, they were more in love now than ever before. If it was possible, they craved each other more than ever before. The sneaking around hadn't stopped; they still hid in closets and acted like kids sometimes. It was still fun and fresh, dark and intense, slow and loving and whatever they wanted it to be.
And eventually, Emily had found JJ and 'convinced' her to show her exactly what she had bought in France. And by show, of course she meant an actual show, which JJ had happily provided.
''Okay baby girl, what do you want, juice or milk?''
JJ looked at her daughter patiently, watching as Tarrin decided what she wanted to drink. She had been running around for the past hour, and it had taken almost ten minutes for JJ to actually catch her daughter to swoop her up so she could take her to the drinks table. Tarrin had adamantly refused the idea however, squirming and wriggling for all she was worth, until JJ had distracted her by pressing kisses all over her face. The blonde, as well as her wife, had quickly found out some tricks of parenting to deal with toddlers. Tarrin wasn't an overly fussy or awkward baby, but she was still a baby! The 'terrible two's' usually started around eighteen months, as they had found out with the boys, and they had learnt how to deal with the negative and challenging behaviours that could be thrust at them.
Tarrin squeaked happily, grinning as she bounced in JJ's arm lightly, happy that she was being given a choice. All three of their children had been rather…wilful, should she say. They were smart and as independent as they could be for their ages, wanting to decide things. That was just fine with JJ and Emily. It was why they constantly asked all of them about what they'd like to do or wear or eat or drink. They weren't little automatons; after all, they had their own individual likes and dislikes, and wants and needs. As best they could, they would always accommodate those.
JJ smirked, thankful that Tarrin hadn't wanted milk anyways because it would have meant trailing into the house. She picked up two kids cartons of juice from inside a cooler where they were being kept so they didn't get warm in the sun, and held them out in front of her daughter. Again, she waited patiently as Tarrin weighed up her options. She had been learning so fast, and JJ didn't want to curb that. She would prompt Tarrin if needs be, between her choice of apple and strawberry, but she knew her daughter knew what they were.
Eventually, Tarrin grabbed the strawberry carton.
JJ smirked as she put the apple back in the carton, and made quick work of pulling off the straw, sticking it into the carton, and handing it to an eager toddler. To say Tarrin hadn't been compliant about coming for a drink, she certainly drank with a vengeance right now.
Soft blonde hair shone in the sunshine, and JJ just stared at her for a moment as her free hand stroked through the strands gently. To everyone, Tarrin looked like her. To her, Tarrin looked like Tarrin. She saw in her something that she'd always remembered seeing in her sister, and it gave her an almost sense of peace, to think that she was in there too. Her daughter would be well guided.
''You hungry sweetheart?''
Tarrin nodded, however with her mouth still wrapped around her straw, she remained silent.
''Yeah, Mommy's hungry too. Let's see what we have.''
As JJ began to scan the snack table, she didn't realise anyone standing close by. Instead, she kept on chatting to her daughter, who would nod or talk or laugh, enjoying her Mother's attention. JJ handed Tarrin a soft piece of bread roll with soft cheese on it, which the little blonde in her arms was nuts over and immediately started to chomp on it happily.
They looked beautiful, so natural and radiant. The adult blonde had a simple, white sundress on, with sunglasses that had been pushed up onto her head for now. It had always been JJ's style to be reasonably minimalistic and simple, and she had always looked breathtaking because of that. Her own hair shone in the light, sea blue eyes dancing brightly. She was happy. There was no weight on her shoulders, no burdens to be noticed, there was nothing but unadulterated joy, the connection between her and her child blaringly obvious. Anyone could tell if they stopped to look, that JJ adored her daughter, worshiped her even. And the little girl sat in her arm obviously felt the same way.
It was right there for anyone to see, and Delilah saw it.
It moved something in her, both sadness and a delight. She had once dreamt of having exactly this, with JJ. A life and a family, babies that looked exactly like her. Part of her ached, because that had never come to be, and part of her was overjoyed because she couldn't deny what she saw in front of her. It was all that she had ever wanted, but somewhere along the line, it had fallen apart. Her dreams had been ruined, but if they hadn't of been, she now realised they wouldn't have come to pass anyway.
She hadn't listened to JJ enough. She hadn't paid attention, and because of that the blonde had withdrawn further and further, until she had become something quite different. Delilah had done that to her, and when JJ had then insisted that she didn't want kids, she hadn't listened. Too arrogant to believe the blonde knew what she was saying.
It had been difficult enough to walk in here, knowing she would have to come face to face with her past. It was harder now to be stood behind her, so close to everything she had ever hoped for, knowing that she could never touch it. Seeing the two of them together, it had stalled her. Delilah had been kept rather under informed, it seemed, because she had never known that JJ had a daughter.
Now she knew why their mutual friends had been reluctant to share information. It was…gut wrenching. It was bittersweet, which she guessed was a word that could aptly sum up her relationship with JJ. Every time she had thought of a sweet moment, it had turned sour with the bitterness she had felt for a long time. Knowing that something hadn't been real was hard to deal with, and Delilah had almost driven herself crazy going over and over it, trying to figure out where it had broken, if it had ever been real, what she had done. It had been a harsh lesson for her, finding so many truths about herself.
Part of her wanted to turn and leave. Just leave before JJ had a chance to ever know she was there. But her body wouldn't move, and her voice was a traitor because she found it tumbling out of her mouth and out into the air where she couldn't catch it.
It wasn't the strongest she had ever sounded, in fact, the Detective noted that she sounded as scared as shit. It caused her confidence, the little she had right now, to buckle threateningly. So she shoved her hands into her jeans pocket, hunching up slightly as she watched JJ turn around.
No matter how much you prepared, the face-to-face impact was still both unnerving and terrifying. JJ felt her stomach knot as she looked across the short gap toward her ex-girlfriend. All that deceit and pain crossing her mind for a moment, remembering what it had been like and how much she wished she had made better choices. No matter how much Delilah had hurt her, maybe she had hurt her more. The cop had gone through their relationship with a happy illusion, and JJ didn't know which was worse, smashing that into tiny little shards, or cutting yourself off bit by bit.
There was an awkward pause, stilted and the silence was deafening. JJ studied her ex, trying to seek out differences. Right now, there was no bravado, no front or attitude that she had gotten so used to seeing. There was no cocky confidence or sardonic and cynical vibe. There was just a still, nervous lull. Delilah had gotten older, but ever more defined. She had always been beautiful, maybe now so more than ever. But there was a depth in her eyes, one that had been put there by her. A depth that only came from an experience of intense pain. JJ had placed that burden upon her, and she really did regret that. But she didn't shy away from it; it didn't make her falter either. Delilah carried her burden, just like she carried hers and had learnt to let it coincide with everything else.
Delilah was making much of the same observations. The most obvious change for course was the alert and curious child sitting in her arm. The other distinctive change, one that also made Delilah's heart ache a little, was the wedding band on JJ's finger. There seemed to be a change in her, the force of nature that Emily had always said she was, it seemed to shine now. Delilah could actually feel its presence, and wondered how the blonde had managed to stifle it for so long.
''How are you?''
The FBI Agent was the first to dare and speak, breaking the silence and making Delilah's eyes snap back to her own. The slightly younger woman shrugged gently, taking in a thoughtful breath as she nodded lightly.
''I'm still breathing, I guess. I'm doing okay. Seeing someone, too.''
The brunette cleared her throat, frowning at herself in vulnerable confusion as she asked herself why she had mentioned that. Did JJ need to hear that, was she really interested or what it a superficial thing to say? It had been something she had grappled with for a long time, the genuineness of her ex-girlfriend. JJ had helped her through a lot of things, and when they had broken up, Delilah wondered if those words or actions had ever been real too. It had taken a long time for her to accept that JJ hadn't realised that she wasn't in love with her, believing that she was so adamantly.
''That's good. Is she…I mean, did you…''
''She's inside talking to Claire. You know her actually, Eve.''
Delilah offered nervously, catching on to what JJ was trying to ask. The blonde let her eyes roam to the house for a second, then nodded slowly as she thought back to the people she had met in Baltimore through Delilah. She did remember Eve, the girl had been a beat cop assigned to Delilah's precinct. JJ had always thought that she'd had the hots for Delilah, but she had never worried about it nor thought about it very often.
''Eve, really. That's great.''
Delilah nodded, tucking her hair behind her ear as the breeze pushed it forward.
''And you? You got married, huh?''
At Delilah's gesture toward her wedding band, JJ looked down at it momentarily. Her engagement ring sat alongside it, representing her loyalty and devotion and love to Emily. Things that of course, she had betrayed with Delilah.
''Around five years ago, yeah.''
Delilah nodded, swallowing hard.
''So I guess it was worth it after all.''
JJ sighed gently.
''No, really it's okay. I just always wondered if it would be. I always thought that maybe, history would just repeat itself and the same would happen between you two.''
JJ knew what Delilah was referring to. Emily had told her about their conversation, and from the words in their break up, it was pretty clear what Delilah had thought would happen. Maybe even hoped would happen, at the time. She had expected them to explode too, that one or both of them would repeat their cheating behaviour.
''It didn't. We're…we're happy.''
Delilah turned her head slightly, gazing down at the ground, almost as though JJ had actually slapped her in the face. The blonde remained silent, knowing that her ex was trying to collect herself.
''Part of me is glad about that, because you deserve to be. But the other part…god, I hated you for so long, JJ. I'm not sure how I managed to survive what happened, but I did. You did something I'm not sure I can ever completely forgive you for, but I understand now why you did. Mostly understand, anyway. I should have been better for you, I just wish I had realised it before it was too late. Emily was right, I did trap you, I did belittle you, and love really is just a bloodsport and I learnt my lesson. It changed me…you changed me, and I almost lost myself but I didn't. I'm different now; you could see that if you had just given me the chance to change, but it's not for you anymore. It's for her. She sees me, like you never did. I may have been guilty about not seeing you, but you never saw me either.''
JJ knew that was probably true, and it was fair that Delilah got her chance to say what she needed to say after all this time. Though, however much she had changed, they both still knew it wouldn't have made a difference. Nothing was going to compare to the way Emily had looked straight into her, and nothing was going to compare to the way Emily loved her.
Delilah had never, and would never, have gained JJ's love the way Emily did.
''I'm glad you found someone like that; I hope you have everything that I could never give you. You deserve to be happy too. I just, I didn't understand that it was never going to be with me.''
The blonde replied honestly, shrugging almost helplessly. What else could she say? How much more could she explain herself? It had happened, and she had made her choices. All may not have been fair in love and war, but there were no more words in her anymore. She had explained herself so many times, she had said her apologies so many times, and she'd learnt to live with what she had done. There was nothing more she could do.
''Is this your daughter?''
Delilah motioned to the little girl that was watching her curiously, with the exact same eyes as her Mother.
''What's her name?''
Delilah nodded, remaining silent as she felt a wave of understanding cross over her. It was fitting, after all. She was highly aware of JJ's family history, though it had taken a long time for JJ to open up just the slightest about it. The Detective had always thought there was more behind the story, but she had never gotten to the bottom of it. Now, with this little girl, and the freedom that seemed to be in JJ's eyes, it seemed that Emily had.
''Can I…I mean, would you mind?''
JJ looked at Tarrin for a second, and then stepped forward. Delilah held out her hands, and took the baby carefully, gingerly taking her into her arms so that she could rest on her side. Tarrin gazed at her for a moment, wondering who she was, but after thinking for a moment, the toddler offered her the last piece of her bread with a squeak.
JJ just watched, arms folded loosely across her chest, as Tarrin interacted with Delilah. She wasn't worried about the brunette holding her, she had always been so great with kids, and it was nice to see Tarrin open enough to interact with people. She was weary of strangers, but not ones that her parents were okay around. Somewhere, Tarrin must have known that her Mother wouldn't have passed her to anyone that meant any harm.
The moment of tranquillity however, at least for JJ, came to an abrupt end as she was slammed into, with little arms wrapping around her tightly.
''Mommy an Oscar is chasing me and I don't wants to get tickled but the pool is full can we play in it, please Mommy?''
Noah blurted out all in one very quick breath, clinging to his Mother for dear life as he looked up at her pleadingly in between looking around for his other Mother and his brother who had been chasing him. Right now he was a little ball of excitement, practically bouncing on his feet, completely unaware of what he had interrupted. Completely ignorant of his parents' past stood right beside them.
''Whoa! Dear lord boy how much sugar have you had?''
JJ squeaked, forgetting for a second the fact that Delilah was stood right there, instead paying attention to her son as he gripped onto her tightly. It was slightly alarming how hyper he seemed, and she knew it was going to be an oh so joyous task to get him, and probably his brother, off their sugar high and home later. Then of course would come the inevitable sugar crash, and they would have to enjoy their delightful grouchy behaviour.
Before Noah even had chance to reply, he screamed in a mix of terror and enjoyment, as he saw Emily approaching, with Oscar on her back. Both making weird monster noises as they did. Noah jumped from foot to foot, before circling around JJ as he still gripped onto her as Emily chased him. She didn't notice Delilah either, too focused on Noah, and taking instructions from Oscar.
Noah practically climbed his way up JJ and into her arms, hoping that she would provide a safe heaven.
''We gots him Mommy!''
Oscar cheered, seemingly taking Noah's move as one of surrender. Emily turned slightly to high five her son, laughing as Noah stuck his tongue out at them.
''We sure did honey! Noah was working for The Rebellion, he had to be stopped!''
Suddenly it all became clear to JJ, they were playing Star Wars. Of course! However, it was cute that Emily got into their sons' little games as well, practically as hyper as they were. JJ really thought her wife could be stupid when she worried about turning into her Mother, Emily was the complete opposite.
Emily was so open to them. Every time they jumped all over her, or bounced on their bed in the morning, or ran around playing games, it was because they knew she was accessible. She was right there, and she was only too happy to roll around with them and get dirty or covered in paint or anything like that. They were so happy because of that, because their parents weren't above playing with them like that. It's part of what made them carefree, they knew they could get covered in mud as they explored, they weren't made to sit still and remain pristine. They were allowed to be kids. And JJ thought that maybe Emily was taking the chance to rediscover her childhood along with them.
''The boys want to play in the pool, so I'm gunna get their stuff from the car and get them changed. Where's Tarrin? You didn't give her to Claire, did you? I'd really like to see my daughter again!''
Emily both chuckled and grimaced at the same time affectionately, knowing how Claire loved to try and keep Tarrin if she got the chance. The toddler loved water, so Emily was thinking she could get the boys ready first and let them loose again, then change Tarrin and go with her to the pool so she could play in it. Emily loved to sit at the side and watch as Tarrin laughed as she flapped in the water.
Emily had completely forgotten about what today could potentially bring. Last night she had let go of the uncertainty she had been feeling, both moved by JJ's words, and then very nicely distracted by the blonde. It had been a long night last night, but they had been consumed in each other. The morning had brought laughter and giggling as the twins had amused themselves with playing with their toys in Noah's room, and it had been JJ that had rolled out of bed to attend to an impatient little girl.
They both loved the chaos in the mornings, the rush and bustle of getting themselves and the kids ready. It was usually a rare day that they managed to snag some time for themselves, if they did it tended to be before the kids woke up. So when they had the opportunity to snuggle quietly, or make love or sneak in the shower together, they did and enjoyed it thoroughly.
Today had been all about the kids. Getting them all fed and watered before tackling getting them bathed and changed, ready for today's party. As JJ had been getting Tarrin ready, Emily had gotten the baby bags ready, and Noah and Oscar had chosen some toys to take with them. They had their own little rucksacks that she had helped them to organise. They were excited about the party, as kids would be. There were a lot of families that Claire knew who was going, so they had plenty of kids to play with too.
As Emily had then taken a fussy Tarrin after breakfast, as she had been cleaning up the kitchen, she had smiled as she heard the music coming from the living room. Not only could she hear JJ singing loudly, but the boys bellowed out the words they knew too, and she'd found all three of them jumping about and dancing weird little dances and being silly. Of course, they had joined in. It was harmless fun, and the kids enjoyed it when their Mom's were silly with them too.
This was their vacation, and the more they could cram in the better.
''No, um, she's right here.''
JJ indicated forward awkwardly, making Emily followed her direction until she set eyes upon Delilah, who was still holding Tarrin securely. Tarrin laughed and bounced, waving slightly toward Emily happily.
The little blonde haired girl stated, pointing at Emily as she looked at Delilah as though she didn't know.
Delilah looked somewhat uncomfortable, and highly overwhelmed by the appearance maybe not of Emily, but the two little boys that looked so much like her. She had only just managed to keep it together with seeing JJ with a daughter, never mind these little boys. It just served to remind her how much she had wanted this with her in the past, and how much JJ hadn't wanted it with her.
Delilah didn't want to make things uncomfortable for the kids, they seemed so blissfully unaware of anything, and that's how she thought kids should be. Just wonderfully innocent and believers in magic and all things special. She wasn't about to ruin their day; they were clearly having a lot of fun.
What more could they possibly say to one another?
Emily had stalled, especially seeing her daughter in the Detective's arms. Part of her didn't like it, part of her wanted to take the baby away from her. The other half of her understood. She was holding something that was denied to her, briefly mourning it, gaining closure.
Maybe this was all a good thing, meeting after all this time. Perhaps it would be closure for everyone? She and JJ could go back to work knowing that the book had been closed. The story that had been weaving through their lives now truly over.
Closure was a powerful thing, it allowed people to move on, allowed them to go forward without having to look back or carry those weights anymore.
The main character's had managed to reach their happily ever after, only they had a lot more than that. They had a real life. Of course there would be bumps and tough spots along the way, but they were bound together. The plot had worked in their favour, the storyteller forgiving them for their sins, freeing them from their emotional prisons.
The storyteller had been compassionate toward the turbulent sub character of their story, providing her with a sub story of her own, and a future of kindness and love. Whether she was loved or hated by those caring to glance into the plot, she had at least been acknowledged and given a fragment solace for all her sufferings.
All ended well that had started so very long ago, three very different lives raising three very different little girls who had grown up to turn into three very different women. A triangle that would always be bound by blood. However, only two would get the future that they truly wanted.
The demons would never stop, but they had constructed a world that gave them the ultimate reason to fight them.
JJ looked across at her wife as she climbed into bed, now changed and having made sure the kids were asleep and snuggled up. Emily shuffled across the mattress and into the middle, smirking as JJ started to make herself at home by using her as a human pillow. She tucked herself into Emily's side, throwing her arm around her and resting her head on her chest.
The echoes of the past were just distant sounds now, the flurry of activity that had consumed them with taking care of their children at the party following them home as they had gone about getting them ready for bed. Emily and JJ had taken it in turns to read to them as they had all piled onto their bed, but eventually they had been returned to their own beds with mutterings of 'I love yous' and kisses.
''You know, I thought our life was chaotic enough before we had kids. I don't think we even knew the meaning of the word!''
JJ mused with a laugh as she listened to Emily's heart beat steadily beneath her. She enjoyed being draped over her like this, it was warm and comfortable. Emily was running her fingers through her hair gently, something that she had always loved.
''It's worth it, absolutely. And you know, I think when Tarrin is two; we might just be ready for the 'one or two more' you mentioned yesterday.''
JJ sat up quickly, hearing Emily talk about having another baby. They had always said they wanted a big family, but thinking it and doing it were often two entirely different things. They had learnt to juggle life and work as it was, and they had only just managed to get it to a fine art. Adding another child would disturb that system, all those routines that they had managed to use to make everything work.
Still, JJ had never been a fan of routines!
Emily laughed as JJ climbed on top of her almost giddily, straddling her before moving in to kiss her senseless. The brunette didn't object to the kisses, enjoying every moment, including as JJ pinned her hands beside her head on the cushions.
''I love you.''
''I love you too.''
Life kept going, and nothing was going to stop them from living theirs.
And to complete their circle, as well as their blood soaked triangle, their story had been almost prophesised all those years ago in that bar. The bar that JJ had won her drinking game, the bar that kept a scoreboard of such events, and the bar that had been the place where she had first met Delilah Forrester.
JJ, to this day, was still 2nd place on that board.
What she had never seen, was that Emily Prentiss was the 1st.
Love was just a bloodsport, but after the blood flowed the peace and change.
''I want to be a kid again
Combed down hair and Sunday best
See me staying home bunking school
Knowing wrong from right just rules
I wish I'd never seen your face
'better door than window' phase
I need an echo, not your praise
Straying from the point you nailed
My mother, my mother, my mother never told
My mother, my mother, my mother never told me
Love is just a bloodsport
Love is just a bloodsport
'Cause love is just a bloodsport
Love is just a bloodsport
Sex and love is not a game
A game is something you can win
Maybe something kind of fun
'Cause love is just a bloodsport, 'son'
My mother, my mother, my mother never told
My mother, my mother, my mother never told me
Never told me
Never told me
'Cause love is just a bloodsport
Love is just a bloodsport
'Cause love is just a bloodsport
Love is just a bloodsport
'Cause love is just a bloodsport
Love is just a bloodsport
'Cause love is just a bloodsport
Love is just a bloodsport''
- Bloodsport - Sneaker Pimps