A/N I'm back! Sorry for the long absence from FF. Life got on top of me for a while and writing became yet another thing in life that was causing me stress. Things are a little more under control now so I started to write this a few weeks ago. It was meant to be a quick one-shot to get back into writing, but has developed into more – possibly 2 or 3 chapters. Please forgive any mistakes/poor writing – I feel like I'm starting out again!
Agent Jennifer Jareau sat looking sympathetically at the tearful woman across from her. Two days previously JJ had driven up to Baltimore alone, on yet another stalker case.
25 year old Katie Leonard had been receiving unusual gifts and obsessive love notes for months and had finally approached the BAU after the notes had turned threatening and the local PD had refused to help. JJ had immediately recognised a number of signs which indicated that this case could quickly become critical and had tried to convince Hotch to involve the team. Whilst sympathetic, he hadn't been prepared to assign the BAU to a single stalker case. Following JJ's impassioned pleas, he had finally agreed to have Prentiss come up with a basic profile which he hesitantly agreed to allow JJ to deliver in person. He had made sure that she was completely aware that she would have to return to Quantico immediately if the team were called in on another case.
That had become a moot point just under an hour earlier, however, when Katie's stalker had badly injured her boyfriend by setting fire to the office where he worked. JJ had been with Katie at her apartment when the stalker himself had called to take responsibility for the fire. Katie was desperate to visit her boyfriend in the hospital, but the unsub had made some horribly specific threats against Katie and her 6-month old daughter. JJ had been tasked with keeping them safe whilst they waited for the rest of the team to join her.
Shifting slightly in her seat, JJ looked down at the sleeping child in her arms. She had finally managed to calm the fretful baby, who was clearly picking up on her Mother's panic.
"I'm just going to lay her in her crib" JJ said gently.
Katie merely nodded, her eyes clouded with emotion.
JJ carried 6-month old Kayla into a room at the back of the apartment and laid her down, covering her gently with a light blanket.
"Can I get you something to eat Katie?" she asked as she walked back into the main room.
"No thanks" Katie said quietly. "I'm really not hungry."
"What about a drink?" JJ offered.
"Tea would be great" Katie replied with a grateful smile.
"My team are on their way from Quantico" JJ said as she pottered in the little kitchen, hoping that she sounded reassuring. "They already have a profile and our analyst is tracing the call made to your cell earlier."
"It's still too late to stop Steve getting hurt" Katie said angrily.
"I know" JJ said, turning to face the young woman, "and I'm truly sorry."
"It's not your fault" Katie said with a resigned sigh. "You're the only person who has actually taken me seriously with this. I'm just worried about Steve."
"I understand" JJ said, turning back to the kitchen. "Hopefully we can get this sorted quickly and then you can get to the hospital. The Doctors said he will make a full recovery."
"I know they did" Katie said with a slight smile, "but I can't help but worry. I'm the reason he's in hospital."
"No you're not" JJ said firmly, finishing the tea and turning with the mug in her hand. "None of this is ..."
She was interrupted by a crash and an ominous rushing sound coming from the baby's room. As the smell of burning reached her she dropped the mug of tea.
"Do not move" she shouted to Katie, already rushing towards the room.
"Kayla" Katie shouted in panic.
"I'll get Kayla" JJ called to her as she entered to room which was already filling with smoke. "You need to stay there."
Briefly hoping that Katie would follow her instructions, JJ quickly made her way into the smoke filled room. She was, for once, happy to hear a baby crying since it was a sign that she was still breathing. The window which led out onto the fire escape had been smashed, but was almost entirely blocked by raging fire. JJ scooped up the baby, holding her close to her chest. Coughing slightly as she felt the thick smoke clogging her lungs, she turned back to the door. The fire had already spread, but thankfully had yet to block her exit. Through the roaring of the fire JJ was sure she heard another crash and the distant sound of a woman screaming. As she rushed into the main room her worst fears were confirmed – the front door to the apartment was in flames and Katie was rolling round on the floor, desperately trying to put out the fire which had somehow spread to her legs.
JJ hurriedly placed the baby on the floor, as far away from the fire as she could and rushed to the young woman who was still writhing on the floor.
"Hold still" she screamed, frantically hitting out at Katie's legs with her bare hands, eventually managing to put out the flames.
"Can you walk?" she asked her, as she moved back to pick up Kayla and check that she was OK. The child had worryingly stopped crying and, whilst she was breathing, her lips were beginning to turn blue. Realising that she needed to get the baby out of the smoke filled apartment as quickly as possible, JJ didn't pause to wait for Katie's answer, merely calling out for her to follow her into the master bedroom.
"We have to get Kayla out of here" she called as she moved towards the window, cursing when she saw that it was closed.
Once again placing the baby on the floor, she approached the window and tried to open it. The window wouldn't budge and JJ cried out in pain, for the first time noticing that both of her hands were badly burnt. Searching worriedly around the room, she began to panic. How was she going to get out of this?