Rating: M (dark, adult themes)

Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Minds.

Author's Note: I'm in an angst-y mood, and this one-shot came to life from my procrastinations and severe sleep deprivation. Reviews make my happy

It was a given JJ would return to Emily's posh downtown DC condo after the case. Best friends turned lovers, the two rarely spent time apart. With the horrors of their job, the women relished the time they could spend together in the safety of each other's arms. The case involved young teenage girls being targeted for their experiences with abortion. Emily suffered silently as memories bombarded her like an enemy plane dropping bombs. All would be silent and she could focus for a split second before another demon from her past would shake her to the core, forcing her to remember her original feelings of guilt, depression, and anger. Her jaw clenched repeatedly as she stared motionlessly out the window at the world zipping past the speeding car in the form of dark shadows. Emily was shaking ever so slightly. JJ noticed, but didn't mention it, knowing that verbalizing Emily's vulnerability would embarrass the brunette. Every now and again, Emily would let out a strangled breath as she fought with the world behind her eyes, her mind forsaking the usual calm and inner peace of her compartments choosing instead to terrorize her with memories of her time in Italy.

Outside, the scenery reflected the peace and serenity Emily wished she possessed at that moment. The delicate, snow covered ground boasted a simplistic, natural presence. Emily glowered at her surroundings as they mocked her incessantly. They pulled into the garage in a spot reserved for JJ's car. Before facing the cold of the concrete parking structure, JJ glanced at Emily; her heart was full of worry for her best friend. Emily was still silent with the exception of a few deep breaths used as an attempt at composure. In the glow of the soft light from outside the car, JJ realized Emily was still shaking. She smiled slowly when she realized what the night would entail; it was her turn to be strong whether Emily spoke or cried. With the evil they fought daily, the women relied on one another to be their strength and saving grace; it was give-and-take and as balanced as anything else in their lives. But tonight, JJ knew she would willingly be Emily's rock as long as the older woman needed such strength.

Emily chided herself for being so weak and helpless. She wanted to run into JJ's arms and have the blonde hold her, rock her, anything to keep the demons at bay. At the same time, she hated herself for needing to feel that physical connection. She felt her body betraying her as it shook consistently, giving away telltale hints about her mental state. She wasn't trying to hide it, but she needed to know she still possessed some iota of control. The control was slipping away from her like a fluttering butterfly; she wanted to run and catch it, but it was always just out of arm's reach.

Walking in the door of the condo, Emily immediately headed to the bathroom, determined to regain some control. JJ watched her lover's fleeing figure and sighed heavily, dropping her go-bag on the intricate wood floor. She leaned heavily into the island in the center of the kitchen, oddly grateful for the feeling of the strong, cold surface beneath her fingertips as if somehow that sturdy monument strengthened her. JJ quietly followed after her lover's figure. Knocking softly, she tried to let herself into the bathroom, but found the door grudgingly locked in place.

"Em?" She called softly. "Can I come in?" JJ paused, waiting for a response. "Emily, please, let me in." Her plea held a double meaning that weighed heavily on the shoulders of both women. "You don't need to suffer alone. Please, Emily." It was the continued silence that worried JJ more than Emily's distant, shaky state. "Emily, I'm scared. Please open the door." On the other side of the thick oak door, there was a muffled click of a lock, and JJ quickly tested the knob before opening the door to reveal a broken women. Emily's remaining walls crumbled as she saw JJ's frantic state. The blonde rushed to hug her best friend, holding her close. When Emily didn't return the embrace, JJ pulled back slightly and looked down at Emily's hands that were trapped between their bodies. JJ stepped back. "Oh, Emily, what did you do?" Her question came out as a soft, broken whisper. Emily released the hand that was grasping her wrist tightly. Ashamed, she looked at the floor, refusing to make eye contact with her girlfriend. "Here, sit down," JJ instructed tenderly, leading Emily to rest on the edge of the granite tub. Emily perched as she was told, letting her bloodied wrist rest on her bent knees. She bit her lip nervously and continued to stare at the bathroom tiles inlaid in the floor. JJ deftly cared for Emily's self-inflicted wound. When she was done, she stayed kneeled at Emily's feet. She was terrified for her best friend. JJ looked up and tried to meet Emily's eyes, but draping raven locks concealed the dark eyes. The blonde gently moved the offending locks of Emily's hair, carefully tucking the silky strands behind Emily's ear. Lightly cupping Emily's face, JJ tilted Emily's face, forcing their eyes to meet. Tear-filled, worried cerulean eyes locked on pained, guilty brown eyes. JJ noted how Emily bit her lip and realized the older woman was on the verge of tears. JJ softly kissed Emily's cold-chapped lips. The kiss was feather-light, but full of tenderness, love, and understanding. Emily closed her eyes as JJ's lips met hers, and a tear escaped, leaving a trail of naked, pale skin in its wake. JJ carefully wiped the tear with her thumb before focusing on Emily's sad eyes. "You will be okay, Em. You're strong enough to fight your demons. I know you desperately need control," JJ whispered assuredly, gesturing to the bandaged wrist. "But tonight, just feel. I'll catch you when you fall. Your control isn't gone. It is just giving way to more pressing emotions. Please let me help you, Emily." Emily nodded; the movement was barely noticeable and without conviction.

JJ intertwined her tanned fingers with Emily's pale ones as she helped Emily off the ledge of the tub. As soon as the brunette was at her full standing height, JJ's arms enveloped her. After releasing a shaky breath, Emily broke down the remnants of her walls and compartments, crying for her mistakes, her past, the ones she saved, the ones who weren't as lucky, and her personal insistence on being strong. JJ rubbed her back soothingly and ran gentle, comforting fingers through Emily's hair as she held the sobbing brunette tightly against her small body. Occasionally, JJ would place gentle kisses against Emily's forehead, trying to offer more of the physical connection that Emily craved. Finally, the sobs stopped and Emily's body stopped shaking with emotion. JJ looked at Emily and smiled softly. "You okay, Em?"

"Not yet," Emily answered truthfully, her voice a broken, raspy whisper. "I will be though. I love you, Jen."

"I love you too, Emily."