This will be a multi-chapter fic, though at this point I have no idea how many 'multi' really means. Disclaimer's the same as always. Reviews are love.
"Ugh! Great." Emily Prentiss grumbled to herself as she glanced at the caller ID on her ringing cellphone. Not that she really needed to glance at the ID – she had long ago picked Beethoven's 5th as the ringtone to alert her when her mother was calling. There was something so perfectly dramatic about the tone that even though she was dreading the call, the ringing never failed to add a little bit of levity to her mood before she picked up.
"Emily Prentiss speaking." She answered the call in that perfectly polite voice she'd had perfected since the age of 6.
"Please hold for Ambassador Prentiss." She recognized the voice of her mother's personal assistant, Adam, having spoken to him more often than she actually had with her own mother.
For once she didn't have to wait long for her mother to pick up. "Emily. Are you in town?"
"Uh, yea, we actually just got back from a case. Why?"
"We need to talk. I have a dinner to attend tonight but I'll stop by your apartment afterwards, around 9." She hung up, not giving Emily a chance to respond or question why all of a sudden she was back in the country and insisting they talk.
It was barely 4pm and she had at least another two hours' worth of paperwork to complete before she could go home and call it a day. She went back to filling a glass of water for herself in the breakroom that she had been in the middle of before she got her mother's cryptic phone call.
Puzzling over what could possibly be so important that her mother had insisted on seeing her that night, she wasn't watching where she was going until she walked straight into Hotch. She stumbled back from the contact and immediately felt his hands on her shoulders, steadying her. When she realized she'd spilt the glass of water all down the front of his shirt, she started apologizing profusely and tried wiping the water off with her hand, before realizing just what she was doing and blushed profusely. She jerked her hand away, only to hear him chuckling at her behavior.
"So sorry, Hotch! I just wasn't really watching where I was going."
"Hey, at least it's not hot coffee, right?"
Her cheeks turned an even darker shade of red, but she chuckled at his joke anyways.
"So what's got you so distracted?"
"Just a call from the Ambassador." He noticed her frown at this statement and when she didn't elaborate, he quirked an eyebrow to let her know he was listening. "She wants to talk to me about something, but she was being kind of cryptic. It's not really her style. Usually she just calls me up – or rather has her assistant call me up – and demands I go to yet another one of her fundraising functions. But she's coming over tonight to talk."
"You can leave early if you need to. There's nothing pressing can't wait 'til tomorrow."
She shook her head before he was halfway through the statement. "No it's fine. She's not coming over 'til later. Sorry about the water, Hotch." She replied and left for her desk, swiftly compartmentalizing the conversation with her mother until she could think about it later after work.
It was half past six by the time she finally left the office and headed for home, picking up Chinese take-out on the way. She spent the next few hours trying not to dwell on the impending conversation with her mother and cleaning her already clean apartment, not wanting to give her mother the slightest opportunity to criticize. When the doorbell rung at 8:55pm, she pulled the whistling tea kettle off the stove and opened the door to invite her mother in. She quickly prepared two cups of tea and joined her mother in the living room.
"So, Emily, how've you been? How's your work with the BAU going?"
"I'm fine and it's going well, mom. But you didn't come here for small talk, and I know you've got a tight schedule, so why don't you just tell me what this is all about?"
Emily watched as her mother visibly tensed and an awkward silence settled over the room as Elizabeth internally debated how to say what she needed to say.
"Well, Emily… there's something that I need to tell you. Something about my past that I've never shared with you, never really shared with anyone before. But you need to know…" Emily watched, completely perplexed by the way the woman in front of her who had turned public speaking into an art form had all of a sudden become hesitant, wringing her hands in uncertainty of what to say or how to say it.
"Mom, it's just me. You can tell me whatever."
Elizabeth briefly met her daughter's eyes before looking away again, choosing to focus on the intricate woodwork of the coffee table instead. She drew a deep breath and expelled it before beginning a story that she had once thought she'd take to the grave with her.
"I've told you before about the time I studied abroad in Russia when I was 19. But what I didn't tell you is that I ended up coming home 4 months earlier than I had originally planned. I was…when I was over there, I met a guy. And he seemed like a really nice guy, but it turns out he wasn't. And one night we were hanging out together and he attacked me." The last few words came out in a whisper and Emily wasn't entirely sure she'd heard what she thought she'd heard.
"He attacked you?" Elizabeth nodded, still refusing to meet her daughter's eyes.
"When I got home, back to New York, I found out I was pregnant."
"Pregnant?" Emily couldn't believe what she was hearing. Disbelief and shock didn't even cover the emotions rolling over her at that moment. Her mother had been attacked in a foreign country? She had been pregnant at 19? She covered one of her mother's hands in her own, not really sure what to say or how to offer comfort for something that had happened 4 years before she was even born.
"What did you do?" she whispered, not entirely sure she wanted to know the rest of the story. Had her mother done what she had done at the young age of 15?
"Well, your grandparents, you know they were very devout Catholics. I had the baby – a girl –but we didn't tell anyone. And I gave her up for adoption."
"WHAT? You have… I have… I mean…I have a sister? There's another woman out there who is your daughter?"
"Was. Who was my daughter."
"Adopted or not, she's still biologically your daughter."
"That's not what I meant. 'Was' as in, she died. She passed away a few days ago in a car crash. Her and her husband both."
"What?" This was too much. Even Emily Prentiss, the queen at compartmentalizing and detaching, didn't know how to deal with all the information that had just been laid at her feet. She didn't know whether to run or to stay and demand to be told absolutely everything. But her mother's next words left her completely floored, unable to move.
"There's more. She had a daughter."