Title: Everybody's Fool
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Universe: Remembrance of Things Past (Part Three)
Characters/Pairing: Prentiss-centric - gen
Summary: Emily tells the team. Sequel to What is and What Should Never Be.
Emily splashed ice-cold water onto her face. It washed the tears from her eyes, but did little to the redness that had spread across her cheeks. By the time she made it to Quantico, it probably would have subsided, but now it was just another harsh reminder of her own vulnerability.
Sergio rubbed himself against her leg, meowing expectantly. Normally, she gave the cat dry food in the mornings, and she figured that he probably needed to use the litter as well.
'I'm taking Serge outside,' Emily told Rossi as she walked past the kitchen, vaguely aware of the sizzle of the frying pan, and the smell of bacon. Her mouth watered unconsciously.
'Don't go far,' she told Sergio sternly, as he sniffed around Rossi's front garden. Somehow, she'd lucked in on a cat that didn't want to make her life difficult. Things were difficult enough.
Emily's eyes jumped from Sergio, to the street and surrounding houses. It didn't seem likely that Doyle was here, but part of her still expected to see the glint of a high-powered rifle from some elevated location, which was ridiculous, really, because a rifle that sparkled in the light would be counterproductive to a sniper.
'You finished yet buddy?' Emily stared down at Sergio, who was making himself busy chewing on a blade of grass. He gave a soft meow of distress when she picked him up, but Emily wasn't willing to stay outside any longer than she had to.
She went back inside to find Rossi serving out breakfast; bacon, eggs, sausage and hash browns. She stared at him.
'Are you trying to fatten me up, or something? Is this a gingerbread house in disguise?'
'Considering how hungry you were last night, I figured I should make up for all the food you're going to "forget" to eat today.'
'Are you suggesting you won't be there to remind me?'
'I'm suggesting you'll find an excuse to ignore me. Juice?'
Emily declined the juice offer, making use of what appeared to be the most expensive and extravagant coffee-maker that she had ever seen.
'Does this thing fold your laundry, too?' she asked, after taking a sip of the best coffee she'd ever tasted. ''cos I gotta say, that's getting dangerous close to "robot uprising" levels of AI.' There was a long pause, during which Rossi just stared. 'Sorry,' she shrugged. 'I get a little nerdy when I'm nervous.'
'Nervous?' he asked.
Scared was what she really meant, but she wasn't going to admit that.
'I called Hotch when you were in the bathroom,' he admitted, as Emily choked down a slice of bacon. 'He said he'd call the rest of the team in.'
'He didn't ask you why?'
'The thing about true friendship – about the people you trust,' Rossi said, with a small smile. 'Is that when you really need them, they're there.'
They finished up their breakfast quickly, and Emily went upstairs to grab her go bag. 'I'm going to bring Serge in, too, if that's okay,' she told him. 'I don't want to leave him at your house all day without litter, but I don't really feel comfortable letting him out, either.'
'You want to stop by the supermarket for a litter tray?'
Emily nodded. 'That would be great – thanks.' She paused. 'What if he's watching Quantico? He'll see us drive in together.'
'What if he's perfected time travel?' Rossi countered, and Emily just stared at him. 'All I'm saying is that in some cases, paranoia is just as debilitating as the person who's chasing you.'
Emily shook her head. 'Rossi…if we're talking about trust, then trust me when I say that this paranoia is justified. This isn't just some guy that we can just profile and corner in the living room of a rundown apartment. He is smart and he is ruthless, and if he is coming after me, then nobody on the team is safe.'
The declaration seem to have its desired effect – Rossi kept his silence, but Emily had no doubt that he was planning another motivational speech somewhere deep in his mind.
The drive was silent, punctuated only by Sergio's meows as he tried to claw his way over Emily's shoulder. When they arrived at the 24 hour supermarket, she handed the cat over to Rossi, who seemed a little uncomfortable.
'I'm more of a dog person,' he admitted.
'Well, he won't give you any kisses unless you ask for them,' Emily grinned, and, as if on cue, Sergio reached up and licked Rossi's neck. He stared at her, trying hard not to look amused at the situation. His lips twitched.
'I'll be right back,' Emily told him, checking that her gun was easily accessible. She checked over the parking lot before making her way inside the store.
She bought two bowls, some tinned food, a litter tray and a bag of litter, as well as a cat harness, because she wasn't exactly sure how much she'd be carting Sergio around, and the store didn't seem to have any carriers. Maybe she'd find one somewhere else.
By the time they arrived at Quantico, the sun was rising. The parking lot was mostly empty, but the smattering of vehicles was a stark reminder of just how many agents seemed to either spend the night, or come in at the crack of dawn.
The job was a little unforgiving like that.
Because Sergio was, by all technicalities, not an FBI agent, Emily was forced to take him through security. He'd been disgruntled when she put the harness on, and that was only exacerbated by the security procedures. By the time they made it to the elevators, Emily was half worried that he was going to claw her eyes out.
'I'm kind of surprised they actually let me bring him in,' Emily admitted. She shifted her go bag against her hip, the addition of cat supplies making the thing far too bulky for her liking.
'Well unless Sergio has a grudge against the United States of America, I don't think he's that much of a security risk.'
'He can be a bit of a rebel,' Emily admitted, 'But I don't think he's graduated to justifiable destruction yet.' She scratched Sergio's neck, underneath the collar, and he purred.
The elevator doors opened, and Emily looked out over the near-empty bullpen. For the past four and a bit years, this had been her home. This had been her family. Now…
'I've changed my mind,' Emily announced. 'Is it too late to run away to Portugal?'
'That depends…do you speak Portuguese?'
'No,' Emily admitted. 'But I could learn.' She shook her head, looking for any eavesdroppers. At this time of morning, there were none, but she lowered her voice anyway. 'I just…I know what they're going to think.'
'No you don't.'
'Do you know why I was brought into this team?' Emily asked him. 'Has Hotch told you that?'
Rossi frowned. 'No.'
'Strauss brought me in to spy,' she told him. 'She wanted Hotch out of the picture, and she wanted me to find out what could bring him down. So I quit.'
'You quit?' he asked, half incredulous. Apparently the infamous David Rossi didn't know about this chapter in BAU history.
'I joined the BAU not long after I quit Interpol – I came here because I was sick of the lying, and the double-crossing, and the politics…I came to the FBI to get away from all of that. Turns out it's everywhere. These are the people that accepted me when no-one else would, and I'm about to go and tell them that I've been lying to them this whole time.'
'We've all got secrets, Emily,' Rossi said. 'We aren't going to judge you for that.'
Emily wasn't convinced, but she dumped her go bag underneath the desk and gave Rossi a grim smile.
'I'll go talk to Hotch,' he said, and Emily was supremely grateful to him for it. She resettled Sergio against her chest and went off in search of Garcia.
Garcia's batcave, unlike the bullpen, was decidedly not empty. Pressed up against the far wall, Garcia was engaged in a rather heavy makeout session with Kevin.
Emily cleared her throat, and the two lovebirds jumped apart.
'Hi!' Kevin said. 'Agent Prentiss. I'll be going now.' He rushed off down the hallway, blowing his girlfriend a kiss. She beamed after him, before turning back towards Emily.
'Oh, is this the new man in your life that I keep hearing things about?' Garcia asked, rushing forward to pet Sergio.
'He does love the attention,' Emily admitted.
'So why did you bring him in?' Garcia asked, frowning slightly. 'Was he getting cabin fever in the apartment?'
'I…um.' Emily paused. She wasn't exactly sure how to bring it up. Somehow, she felt that in this case, ripping the bandaid off would hurt the situation more than help it. "I brought my cat in because I used to work for Interpol, and this sociopathic guy that I helped put away is leaving creepy things by my door and probably wants to kill me."
'Long story,' she said, which was really not even close to an exaggeration. 'I'll explain later. I need you to get me a file.'
'I can do that.'
'It's classified, and without a doubt illegal.'
Garcia stared, eyebrow raised. 'Did someone replace you with a changeling overnight, Warrior Prentiss?'
'It's complicated,' Emily explained, which was really not much of an explanation at all. 'Is this the most illegal thing you've done in this job?'
'My love, I hack classified files three times a week,' Garcia said, sitting in her chair and swiveling towards the keyboard. 'Alright, what am I looking for?'
'Ian Doyle,' Emily provided. 'Arrested in France six years ago, extradited to Russia.'
The expected red box popped up in the middle of the screen, asking for the appropriate clearance. 'Wait a sec,' Emily said, and Garcia paused over the keyboard. If this situation turned into as big of a clusterfuck as Emily expected it to, then she didn't want Garcia to get into trouble. 'Let me.'
'You're going to hack into Interpol?' Garcia asked, sounding highly amused by the prospect.
'No, I'm not going to hack Interpol,' Emily said, typing in her old access code. It still worked.
'Oh, jenkies…' Garcia whispered, apparently awed. 'Are you like…some kind of super secret agent?'
Emily didn't answer, and Garcia's eyes widened.
'It's all in the file,' Emily said softly. She doubted that Garcia would be so positive about the situation after she'd read about what had gone down. 'Can you send it to the team's tablets?'
'Easy-peasy,' Garcia said, tapping two keys. She turned to face Emily. 'You want to tell me what's going on, or do I have to wait until the rest of the team gets the official briefing?'
Emily told her.
Garcia, to her credit, did not take the revelation negatively. After all, Garcia was the one who had Frank Abignaled her way into the FBI. It was her, more than anyone, that would actually understand Emily's predicament.
'They're probably all here by now,' Emily said eventually. She looked down at Sergio, whose yellow eyes were wide. 'What am I going to do with you, buddy?' She couldn't quite imagine letting him loose in the briefing room, walking across the conference table and jumping in Reid's lap as Garcia displayed the Doyle file.
'JJ's office is still empty,' Garcia provided. Hotch was still holding out against Strauss re: the hiring of a new communications liaison, which meant that the office was still empty, and, more importantly, there was nothing for Sergio to break or mess up. 'You just better hope like hell that Strauss doesn't decide to come down for a visit.'
'God, I hope not,' Emily muttered. It would be the final nail in her coffin, for Strauss to find out about this. She would find out eventually, of course, but that was something that Emily did not want to deal with.
She returned to her desk to grab her go bag, and went up onto the mezzanine level to set up Sergio's temporary living quarters. She used the set of stairs away from the briefing room, which meant that if the team were already set up, none of them saw her. Emily wanted to explain it her own way, and as much as she loved the furry little guy, that way did not involve Sergio.
By the time she did make it to the briefing room, the rest of the team was assembled. Morgan shot a concerned look in her direction, and Emily felt like crap for the fact that she was about to ruin everything that the team had worked towards.
'This, my friends, is Ian Doyle.' Garcia pressed a button on the remote, and Doyle's faced appeared on the projection screen. Emily knew every line, every wrinkle. She knew what it felt like when he didn't shave, and she knew how rare – and in some cases, how terrifying – it was to see him smile. 'Arrested by Interpol in 2004, escaped prison in Russia last week.'
'Why is this a BAU case?' Morgan interjected. He hadn't started looking through the file on his tablet. Reid had, judging from the way his brow furrowed, and the concerned look he gave Emily just half a second later. 'Guy escaped from a Russian prison, what would he be doing here?'
Emily took a deep breath.
'Because he wants to kill me.'