The case had been difficult. The bodies of the victims' seemed to pile up without any clues as to the person committing the crimes. Jennifer Jareau stared across the plane at her best friend. The brunette sat silently staring at her hands. JJ could tell Emily was on the edge of a mental breakdown. The case had affected them all, but the last victim died in Emily's arms. She was only a little girl, and Emily could do nothing to ease her pain or save her. The unsub had brutally raped and murdered 17 girls under the age of nine. JJ moved across the plane and sat next to her friend. "Em, hanging in there?" The brunette gave no response. "Hey, Emily." JJ said again, placing a gentle hand on Emily's back. "Oh, um, sorry. What?" Emily asked, startled. "Are you okay?" "Yeah. I'm fine. Just tired." "Ok," JJ responded though she knew Emily was far from fine.
Later that night
After the plane landed, Emily returned to the office to finish the paperwork. A couple hours passed before she looked up from her files and noticed that everyone, including Hotch, had left; the team had the weekend off. With a glance at her watch she realized it was close to midnight. Sighing, she gathered her things and slowly headed for home. Upon arriving, she poured herself a glass of scotch and wondered when all of her friends had left. Her thoughts drifted back to the case and the victims. Downing her scotch, she made her way to the bathroom, retrieving a black case from the back of one of her drawers. Pulling out a razor blade, she lifted her shirt revealing her pale skin with a handful of reddish cuts intertwined with numerous scars. She felt the cold blade slice her skin and a relief washed over her. She climbed into bed and fell asleep.
Unfortunately her slumber was interrupted by the shrill of her cell phone. Cursing the phone, she rolled herself over to answer it, wincing as she landed on her stomach.
"Mugh!" She voiced her discontent with being inhumanely awoken on her day off.
"Sorry, Em. We have a case; conference room in an hour."
"Damnit. See you there." She quickly clicked the phone shut while rolling out of bed without her usual grace. These early mornings were becoming second nature to her and a day off becoming more and more a figment of her imagination. Showered, dressed, coffee, and out the door in thirty minutes, she groaned as she realized she would still probably be the last of the team there.
Within an hour the team was on the plane to some small town in Minnesota where a serial killer was targeting couples. Three couples so far had been murdered, and the locals were in desperate need of help. After getting caught up on the case, Emily moved to a back corner where she closed her eyes, willing herself to fall asleep. Upon opening her eyes, she met brilliant blue eyes with a questioning look in them. "I'm fine, Jayje. Just tired; nothing new."
"Whatever you say Em." JJ responded, knowing the brunette knew she didn't believe the blatant lie. "Did you get any sleep?"
"Bits and pieces- no one's fault but my own. I thought we would actually get at least a day off. Apparently not."
"Right. Nightmares wouldn't have anything to do with it?" JJ whispered, staring at Emily knowing she hit nail on the head as Emily's grimace turned into a look of don't-start-this-here. JJ continued with a slight nod, "Get some sleep. We'll talk later. From what Garcia tells me, we are sharing a room at the hotel."
"Great," Emily replied, her voice dripping with sarcasm. She wasn't about to make JJ deal with the nightmares that plagued her. Fuck. She thought, I'm going to have to be careful about my cuts. JJ would freak out if she knew. With that thought, she closed her eyes and tried to brace herself for the next couple of days.
They got nowhere that day. The local cops were irritated with the FBI presence and though they had checked out the crime scenes and made geographical maps, they were no closer to a suspect than when they had landed hours ago.
The team slowly walked through the hotel lobby and parted ways as Hotch exhaustedly announced they had a 7am meeting time. Too tired to grumble any annoyances, Emily and JJ finally made it to their room. Exhaustion overriding normal logical processing, Emily pulled off her shirt and started rummaging in her go bag for her pajamas.
"Em, mind if I use the bathroom first? EMILY! What happened to your stomach?" JJ screeched as she looked at the angry stomach of her best friend.
"It's nothing," Emily responded. "Go ahead use the bathroom first."
"Emily Elizabeth Prentiss, there is no way 20 some odd cuts is nothing. Talk to me. Please. I can help."
"It is nothing. Jen, please drop it. It's been a long day. Let's both get some rest."
"No. You are not going to push me away. You are my best friend. I love you. Let me in."
Sighing, Emily resigned as she sat on the edge of her bed with her head in her hands. "I don't know where to start. Ask questions. I'll answer." Emily knew she would never win and JJ would not relent until the brunette let the blonde into her twisted world.
"How long?" JJ asked quietly, sitting cross-legged on the bed next to Emily while cautiously looking at the brunette.
"Since I was 15, but I just started again recently."
"During the last case."
"You made 20 plus cuts in 3 days."
"27, and yes."
"Why didn't you come to me?"
"Because I'm supposed to be the strong one, the one who can compartmentalize everything. Because you have to deal with my roller coaster of emotions. Because you take care of me more than you should have to." Emily was rambling as she did when she got nervous. This was becoming all too emotional for her and she was feeling the need to cut. She got up and started pacing. "I couldn't handle all the emotions. You know me I'm not good with emotions, but I did the only thing I could do. I resorted to something that worked for me in the past." Her pacing didn't stop, but rather sped up. JJ watched her best friend unraveling. JJ didn't speak, feeling that Emily needed to get something of her chest. She was surprised, however, when Emily almost ran back to her go back producing a black mini CD case of sorts.
"Oh no you don't. You are not going to resort to cutting this time. Hand it over." JJ met Emily's eyes and for the first time noticed the brunette's eyes brimmed with tears. "Come here, Em." JJ gently spoke pulling Emily into a hug. Emily originally stood stiffly trying not to give into her emotions, but her walls quickly fell. She wrapped her arms tightly around JJ sobbing quietly into the blonde's shirt.