A/N: So this is a oneshot, post 'Lauren' of course, about Emily coming to terms with her new life. It could be considered a companion to "The Beginning of Goodbye", but it doesn't have to be. I just wanted to make them weirdly similar like that :P
It's pretty angst-y, but not as emotionally charged as I'd like it to be. I'm not sure how well this was written, but for some reason I really wanted to get it out there. Please, please, please let me know what you thought of it!
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Criminal Minds. I think that's enough.
Somewhere, in a distant foreign country, a former profiler walked into a local bar. She didn't know exactly what brought her there; she wasn't usually a heavy drinker, but then again, "usual" wasn't a word that described anything about her anymore. There seemed to be a pull to this place. It was as if some cosmic force was driving her there.
She ignored the sensation and sat down on a bar stool. She didn't order anything, but instead just sat there and thought. For some reason, the bar was more conducive to thinking than her current hotel room was. When she thought harder, it made a certain kind of sense. The bar, however far it might be from the States, was permanent whereas the hotel room was only temporary. A bar had regular, loyal customers, but a hotel had random tourists that didn't show up every weekend.
Thinking of hotels made her think of all the places she'd stayed over the past five years. Some had been very nice while others had been disappointing to say the least. She'd been to nearly every state on cases with the team.
It all came back to them, didn't it? They were with her in her every waking moment. When she wondered about something completely irrelevant such as where coffee originated, she thought about how Reid would have an immediate answer at the ready. How he'd spout off statistics on how many people drank coffee on a daily basis or tell her the root of the word "coffee". Sometimes when she forgot the keycard to one of her hotel rooms, she'd wish for Morgan to come and break down the door. She longed for Garcia's cheery optimism, Rossi's unwavering support, and Hotch's stoic leadership. She wanted so badly to see them again, to talk to them, even just to read a text from them. The team occupied her thoughts all the time. For years now, they'd been her rock.
These thoughts were all in vain though; because Emily Prentiss was dead. The woman who sat at the bar well after midnight was named Adriana Lombardi. She was a native of Florence, Italy. An Italian woman with no past connected with European terrorists, Interpol, or the FBI. No past connected to the Behavioral Analysis Unit.
It was funny how easily her entire life could be swept under the rug. Her existence wiped from the face of the Earth all in the blink of an eye. All those years just gone. Emily Prentiss existed only in the memories of her former teammates.
Again her thoughts strayed to the team. The BAU, her family. Emily sighed; thinking of them was not good for her mental or emotional health. That kind of thinking would only cause her to tear herself apart even more than she already had.
"Potrei ottenere prego una birra?" She asked the bartender for a beer in well-practiced Italian. Being multi-lingual from an early age was a huge advantage for her. For once she could thank her mother for something. The thought of the estranged ambassador made Emily suddenly even sadder than she'd been since the whole Doyle fiasco had begun. Did her mother even know she was really alive? Did she attend her funeral? She guessed that she did. How could any respectable woman not say her last goodbyes to her only daughter? Emily chased the questions from her mind. Dwelling on these things wasn't doing her any good. It didn't help much that she would never -could never- know the answers to her questions. At least not right now; there was no one around to answer them. No friendly faces amidst the sea of unfamiliar things.
She ran her hands over her face, trying to wipe away her conflicting feelings. She didn't know if it was better for her to have no idea what was going on in D.C., or if it would be more helpful for her to have had information before she was shipped off to France. At this moment, Emily thought that she'd rather know what was going on at home.
Then something occurred to her: would she still rather have known what everyone was doing if it risked their lives? Would someone giving Emily information on them be a danger to both her team and herself? She shook her head; there were so many questions and so few answers.
Soon, the bartender deposited her drink in front of her. She reached for it with her right hand, but found it to be trembling. That was when she noticed the feeling of wetness on her cheeks. She brought up her left hand, her right still shaking in midair before her, to touch her face. Sure enough, tears had been sliding down her face for a while now. She quickly wiped them away, and then she reached for her drink again. She gulped it down in a matter of seconds.
The bartender, a young bald man, looked at her strangely. She glared at him, warning him to back off, before she called for another drink. Again she felt that strange sensation she'd gotten when she first came into the place. She shrugged it off, focusing on the bartender who was currently obeying her demand. She couldn't wait for that next beer. She needed to numb the raging emotions inside of her. Alcohol seemed to be fit to do just that. Emily wasn't concerned with the possibility of becoming too drunk to drive. Frankly, if she did get behind the wheel, she'd be relieved to cause her own death. At least then she wouldn't be lying to the people closest to her.
JJ had been the only one she'd really given a farewell to. Though they hadn't said much, looks were enough. The former media liaison's eyes had been sad, regretful even, and Emily knew her own had been a mirror image. That last encounter with her old life had been the one thing to get her through the past few weeks.
She hadn't been able to stave off the depression for long even with the memory of JJ's silent goodbye. It had come on unexpectedly when she woke to her second morning in France. She'd woken up thinking two things: One, she was SSA Emily Prentiss with the BAU. Two, she was dead. It hadn't made sense to her for a few minutes, but when it did, well, it was memorable to say the least.
She'd sat there, on her bed in a French hotel, in shock for a full two minutes before the gravity of the situation hit. Then she'd cried like she'd never cried before. Huge, gut-wrenching sobs racked her body. She couldn't help it, though she knew it was irrational and not like her at all. That was what happened when you were forced to cause pointless pain to the ones you loved. She'd only stopped crying when she felt a pain in her stomach. She'd lifted the hem of her pajama shirt to find an ugly, red scar. It was still healing, that was for sure, and it hurt like hell.
The wound had been inflicted by the man responsible for her "death".
The man she'd pretended to love, and also the man who'd hunted her down in D.C. The man who'd threatened her team, her family. He was the one who had cause this pain. He was the one that Emily couldn't go after even if she was strong enough to. She was no longer a federal agent, she didn't have a team backing her up anymore. She was simply a wanderer. Never staying in one place for more than a few weeks.
Her lifestyle may have changed due to Ian Doyle's need for vengeance, but her personality and appearance remained the same for the most part. She didn't bother to control her temper anymore, it just didn't matter. She didn't cut her hair anymore either. She just let it grow unchecked. Eventually, she supposed she'll have let her looks go entirely and not even her mother would be able to recognize her.
Emily could feel herself falling apart at the seems as she downed her second drink, which had been set before her sometime while she was immersed in her memories. The sadness, anger, and overwhelming guilt threatened to build up inside her until she burst. One day she would just combust, there was no way around it. She couldn't relieve her feeling of sadness without seeing her odd little family again. She couldn't take out her anger on Doyle without endangering those she loved. The guilt, she was sure, would stay with her until the day she died.
As she called for yet another drink, she couldn't help but wonder how soon that would be. At the rate things were progressing, Emily wouldn't be surprised if she was killed in a drunken haze on the highway. She didn't care anymore though. She found herself praying for it all to end, and soon. What kind of a life was she living? She moved from place to place, hardly ever speaking to anybody. She didn't bother to form relationships, she'd only have to move again.
To her, her meager existence wasn't worth living. Not without the people she cared about most. They meant everything to her, and now they, or rather she was gone. Her life now was worthless without them in it. A pang of longing shot through Emily's body, and she then recalled a memory of a time when the team had been a true family.
It was one of their last cases with Jordan Todd, the temporary replacement for JJ, and they'd just gotten back. Reid had alerted them to the presence of someone in the BAU room. The entire team had gone in to find JJ standing there, little Henry in her arms. She'd said that with all they saw in that room, they needed a good memory to hang on to. There had been smiles and laughter that night, and thinking of those smiles made her reevaluate her earlier feelings. She thought that maybe, just maybe she could hang on a little longer. At least until something was done about Doyle. Emily didn't think she could allow herself to die without seeing those smiles one more time.
The bartender came by yet again and dropped off her third drink as she reflected. Looking back on it now, Emily thought that JJ was right. She did need this memory. She needed it to keep her sane. Needed it to survive. Emily wondered if the others remembered this? Did they look back on it and think that all the stressful years at the BAU were worth it? Of their feelings she wasn't sure. There was one thing she was sure of, though. She was sure that she didn't regret a single moment she spent with them.
By this time, many of the bar's other patrons had cleared out. The bartender didn't have much else to do so he settled with keeping an eye on this odd woman with raven hair. Emily knew that he'd make sure she didn't drive herself home, and now that she'd come to terms with her new life, she was okay with that.
Emily raised her drink slightly, in no one's particular direction, and made a toast. "To my life with the BAU," her voice was clear and strong, but still soft. "And my new life after you." That last part may have been a little sarcastic, but she paid that thought no mind. She finished the drink quickly, but didn't get up. She was content to stay there for the time being. She needed time to reflect a bit.
"Life after you," Emily whispered sadly, a tear trickling down her cheek, "is going to be hell." But she'd live it anyway, just for the chance of getting her family back someday; because she knew in her heart that she'd see them again.
The scene in the BAU room that Emily references is from the episode "Road Warrior" I think. I'm not sure if I have the name right though...
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