Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Minds, and it's such a pity.
Author's Note: Please read and review. It makes me really happy to see so many people reading and flagging my stories. I would really appreciate any comments or ideas you send my way I do my best to fill the requests of readers who take the time to comment.
Her stomach clenched uncomfortably as her vision blurred and her world spun. Holding her head high and gripping her fists behind her back, Emily Prentiss continued participating in detailing the profile of a serial killer with a bow-and-arrow in South Dakota. Planting her feet firmly on the dulled, worn tile of the station, she forced herself to take deep breaths.
I am not getting sick. I refuse dammit. I have too much to do to get sick right now. Do you hear me, immune system? Get your shit together and fix this, she thought to herself, barely able to contain her eye roll. Seriously, Emily, are you really berating your immune system? If you would just sleep like a normal person and maybe stick to a regular eating schedule, your immune system wouldn't have so much extra work to do to keep you healthy.
A detective asking a question halted her inner argument as she tried to refocus on the conversation at hand. She barely won the battle to pinpoint key words in his question before the detective's aged body swam in and out of her vision. She squeezed her eyes shut. Morgan fielded the question easily, and Emily inaudibly sighed in grateful relief. The lead detective passed out assignments and instructions. The previously crowded station cleared out as local cops rushed to their assigned tasks. Emily slowly walked back to the room designated for the team. She fished four or five pills out of her trouser pockets and swallowed them in one dry gulp.
"You okay, Emily?" Reid asked, concern laced in his innocent voice. He passed her a bottle of water, and she smiled thankfully. She only responded in order to draw his attention away from her shaking limbs.
Okay, if you're going to get sick on me, can you at least cooperate until I'm home in my apartment, please?
She begged her body mentally. Emily was never one to ask for help, no matter what the situation was. Her weakening body seemed to accept her plea. Reid's images stopped shaking and merged into one as opposed to the previous three or four young doctors she was seeing. She took a large swallow of water, and her stomach lurched violently.
You're killing me here, she thought venomously towards her queasy insides. Reid tilted his head sideways, his shaggy boy-band haircut falling into his glasses as he looked at the brunette skeptically. She easily plastered on a smile she kept permanently in her repertoire, though the fake, forced grin was usually reserved for political outings with the Ambassador. Years of perfecting such a smile, Reid smiled back, grinning like a proud, successful young child. Her gut panged sadly. He was her family, her little brother of sorts. She was a private person; everyone knew that, and they cherished the moments she shared part of herself with them. Though she kept her life and emotions carefully guarded, she wasn't a liar. Using that smile to ease Reid's suspicions made her feel like just that. Emily pinched the bridge of her nose. A loud, commanding voice resounded above the ringing in her ears, and she turned to look at the source. Hotch stood in the doorway obviously giving her directions she couldn't hear. She nodded slightly, and he turned away.
Fuck, she thought. Now, I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing.
"Em, you ready to go?" Another voice broke through the ringing, but this time it belonged to one Jennifer Jareau. The blonde stood in the doorway, half inside the room. She leaned casually on the doorframe while calling Emily, who physically attempted to shake herself out of her foggy demeanor. JJ watched her best friend closely. "Em, what are you doing?" JJ laughed softly as Emily shook her head from side-to-side.
Oh, Prentiss, that was a really bad idea. Now not only do you feel like you're going to vomit, but your ears are still ringing and you're now perpetually on a merry-go-round, she mentally nagged her actions.
"Em?" The laughter was gone from JJ's voice. It was replaced with concern.
"Hmm. Yeah, I'm fine. Let's go. Where are we going?" Emily forced herself to compile logical strings of words. She had no idea how she was going to talk to other people in the real world. Most of the time, JJ could understand Emily's random syllables and sounds the brunette rambled. Normal people didn't have that same talent of understanding a garbled Emily Prentiss.
"Hotch was just in here explaining it to you, I thought. We're going to talk to the coroner to see if there's anything else that could help narrow the profile." Emily nodded and trailed slowly after the talkative blond. To keep from falling over due to her spinning vision, Emily focused her attention on JJ's heels and tried to keep up with the blonde step-for-step. She heaved herself into the passenger seat of the nondescript SUV and sank deeply into the familiar leather seat. JJ glanced to her right and bit her lip in worry. Emily's eyes fluttered closed as the brunette took a moment to relax. JJ watched knowingly as Emily's calm, collected character slipped slightly. Emily felt comfortable with herself in JJ's presence; she didn't need the poised exterior she wore daily. The tension left Emily's shoulders as another deep breath soothed her. Opening her eyes cautiously, she turned her head slightly. Blue eyes met brown, and Emily smiled as she realized JJ was staring at her. JJ averted her gaze as a reddish flush crept into her tanned skin because she had been caught very obviously checking Emily out. She coughed slightly before pulling the gearshift awkwardly. The brunette grinned happily and closed her eyes again; she was used to this dance. The two flirted and flitted around each other for years. Neither one making the first move out of fear of losing the friendship.
"So we're supposed to ask the coroner about what exactly?"
"Anything he deems notably relevant or additions he made," JJ answered smoothly. "What's up with you today?"
"Wouldn't he have included the relevant pieces in the report? There was literally one wound on the body. Granted it was a large, fatal wound, but a single wound nonetheless."
"You know Hotch, he wants to make sure we've got our bases covered and didn't dish out a faulty profile based on evidence left unanalyzed. Avoiding my question, Agent Prentiss?"
"Give me some credit. Even if I'm a little under the weather, I'm smart enough not to avoid your questions. We've danced this dance before. It always ends with you getting exactly what you wanted because it's hopeless for me to say no to you."
"I do work that to my favor, don't I?" JJ teased humorously.
"Yes, yes you do. You prance around gracefully and flash those baby blues at me, and I'm pretty sure I would do anything short of murder for you."
"Good to know, Em. Good to know. I'm going to store that piece of information for later use."
"Like you didn't already know," Emily balked as they pulled up outside the modest and quaint office of the coroner. Stepping into the bright sunlight, Emily's head started spin again as her stomach lurched violently at the smell of roses and fresh fertilizer. "Oh good lord," she moaned quietly as she slipped her dark sunglasses over her tired, sensitive eyes. She ignored JJ's worried glance and attempted to walk confidently to the door.
Inside the cool lab, the latest victim's body adorned the metal table. The room smelled of bleach. Emily tried to brace herself against the overwhelming smell but failed miserably as she gagged. JJ took the lead of the interview for which Emily was extremely grateful. Halfway through the interview, Emily felt like she would pass out at any moment. JJ turned to look at her before nodding towards her pocket. "Em, your phone is ringing."
"Oh sorry," Emily mumbled and stepped away to answer it. Moments later, she returned to the casual conversation and informed JJ the unsub was arrested.
"Great, sir, thank you for your help," JJ politely said to the elderly doctor. "What happened?" She asked as the two women walked back towards the car.
"He tried to buy more specialty arrows, and one of the LEOs was in the store. Hotch said plane in 40."
JJ nodded and started driving them towards the runway before Emily flagged her to pull over. Leaping from her seat, Emily doubled over as her stomach violently upturned. The blonde was by her side instantly, pulling the raven locks away from Emily's face. JJ rubbed her back comfortingly. When she was finished, she leaned against the closed door of the SUV and grimaced. JJ passed her a bottle of water, which she swished in her mouth before spitting it out.
"You might want to try drinking some of that," JJ offered.
"Can't. It won't stay down."
"Water won't stay down? When's the last time you ate?"
"Attempted or actually ate?"
"Actually ate, Em," JJ clarified.
"A couple of days ago," Emily mumbled under her breath. "I try to eat; my stomach just doesn't accept food or drink of any sort. It's really nothing. We'll go home; I'll sleep for 24 hours and be back to new." Emily halted the conversation by sliding into the passenger seat, securely buckling herself in. JJ rolled her eyes at her annoyance over Emily's obvious avoidance.
"Fine, but you've now signed on a weekend-shift nurse," JJ informed her. Emily groaned loudly. She hated to be coddled and babied. No doubt that was what JJ had in mind to help get her on the mend.
Stumbling into her apartment, Emily carelessly dropped her go bag on the floor and kicked into the nearest corner. She smiled grimly as she heard it clunk into the wall. No work, she thought to herself happy. JJ followed her inside. First things first, get out of these damn work clothes, Emily thought as she gripped the handrail tightly as she pulled herself up the stairs. Walking into her room, she stripped of her clothes and stood in her underwear, looking for specific comfort clothes. She pulled out old sweats and a tattered Yale shirt. The sweatpants had always been big on her, but now, after days of fighting with her stomach, the pants dropped so low her underwear was visible. Pulling the t-shirt over her head, she grabbed another pair of sweats and a t-shirt for JJ.
Emily tossed the clothing onto the couch, so JJ could wear them once she got out of the bathroom. She turned on her heels and wavered slightly, holding onto the edge of the couch to remain upright. She took a deep breath and sat down on the arm of the chair. Her vision was swimming; her ears were ringing, and her stomach shook violently. Rushing to the bathroom upstairs, she barely made it as she threw up again and again. Leaning back against the base of the wall, she pulled her knees to her chest and rested her head on them. Her eyes fluttered as exhaustion swept through her body. Emily lifted her hands slightly away from her body and watched as they shook ever so slightly. She sighed and closed her eyes again, trying to suppress the currents of uneasiness as her world continued to swim and shake.
Downstairs, JJ quickly dressed in Emily's clothes. Lifting the worn clothing to her face, she recognized Emily's scent and hugged herself in the hopes of finding a more intimate connection with the brunette. Her phone buzzed annoying.
"Hey buttercup. How's the ever-so-sexy brunette you're madly in love with?"
"She's sick, so I'm playing nurse this weekend despite how unhappy she is with someone taking care of her."
"Is this the version of nurse with a sexy costume and fishnets or this actual nurse trying to fix the sickness?"
"Actual nurse, Pen. We've been over this; there's just too much at stake."
"So you want sexy costume and fishnets?" Garcia interpreted easily, a mischievous smile gracing her brightly colored features.
"Of course. Have you seen her?"
"Yes, doll face. What's wrong with her?"
"Her stomach is acting up. I've got to go find her though. Bye Pen. Whatever you're plotting, stop it. I mean it." JJ hung up to the sound of Garcia's laughter. "This cannot end well," JJ mused as she climbed the stairs to Emily's master bedroom. "Em," she called into the empty bedroom. She followed the quiet mumbles into the bathroom where Emily sat, propped against the wall. Her pale face looked deathly white and her eyes lacked luster and focus. "Emily, baby, what's wrong with you? We need to get you to a hospital," JJ affirmatively decided. Emily just nodded, which increased JJ's worry. There was no spirited arguments or insistences of independence. JJ wrapped her arms around Emily's middle and lifted her off the ground. She was visibly surprised at how light Emily was. "Can you walk?" Emily nodded.
She knew it was wrong to flash her badge to get Emily admitted sooner, but she would worry about that later. JJ rattled off the appropriate information about Emily; she was slightly surprised that she knew everything she needed. The entire time she had an arm wrapped around Emily's torso, trying to help hold the older woman upright. She shuffled Emily to a couple of open chairs in the crowded ER. As she sat down next to the brunette, Emily leaned her head onto JJ's shoulder. JJ pressed a comforting kiss to the other woman's brow and laced their fingers together reassuringly. A woman sitting across from them watched the interaction closely before coughing to make herself known. JJ looked up at her expectantly.
"Yes ma'am?" She asked politely.
"You two make a cute couple. I just thought I would share that. Your love is visible, and it reassures me about the existence of good in this world."
"Thank you, ma'am." After she responded, she realized she never corrected the woman because they were not, in fact, a couple. God, how I want that though, JJ thought to herself. She closed her eyes as she realized just how perfect it felt to be with Emily and how perfectly the two women fit together. Her heart fluttered with love followed by a pang of sadness at the thought that she may never get to truly express her love. Her phone vibrated in her lap; she turned to see if it disrupted Emily, but the brunette still rested exhaustedly against her shoulder. Flipping open her phone, she saw it was a text from Garcia.
The ER? She really was sick? Give pumpkin a kiss for me! I'll bring teddy bears and balloons What hospital?
JJ quickly responded as a nurse ushered them to a back room. The nice nurse with one too many piercings for JJ's taste handed JJ a hospital gown and gestured to Emily. The women left and said the doctor would be in shortly. JJ looked down at Emily, who perched uncomfortably on the edge of the bed. She seemed to be paler and her eyes remained unfocused.
"Hey, Em," JJ started as she bent to look in Emily's eyes, placing her hands on the brunette's knees. "We need to get you in this gown, okay? I'm going to leave it right here. I'll step outside to give you some privacy." JJ slid outside the door as she said and texted Garcia the room number. She heard shuffling and the door opened slightly.
"I'm… uhh… too dizzy," Emily stated.
"Okay, I can help," JJ easily responded, her tone loving and comforting. Easily the blonde undressed Emily, leaving her in only a bra and her sweats. JJ's eyes grazed over Emily's exposed body; her best friend had obviously lost weight she didn't have to lose. The edges of her ribs were well defined. "Here, you go," JJ said, helping Emily into the gown. Emily whispered her thanks and tried to get situated on the uncomfortable hospital bed.
Doctors and nurses faded in and out of the room. One finally stopped long enough to explain what was happening. "Given what you've told us, Ms. Prentiss. You are severely dehydrated. You probably got a 24-hour stomach virus, and you're dehydration rapidly increased from there. We're going to give you an IV to get you rehydrated. We're giving you 2 liters. Each bag takes about 25 to 30 minutes. We'll get you some nausea meds, and you'll be good to go, okay?"
"Thank you," Emily forced as another wave of dizziness swept her into an ocean of discomfort. JJ held her hand and smiled sadly and knowingly. She swept the dark bangs from Emily's forehead and placed a soothing kiss to the newly exposed skin. A nurse came in and hooked her up to the IV. Immediately as the solution entered her veins, she shivered at the sudden change in temperature. JJ pulled up the blanket to cover Emily. "I…uhh," Emily started though she was at a loss for words. JJ waited patiently. "I need to talk to you."
JJ leaned forward towards the hospital bed, her elbows propped on her knees. "What about, Em?"
"Us. This. I can't do it."
JJ's eyes widened as fear settled in her gut and aching clenched her heart. "What do you mean?"
"I mean… Wow this is harder than I expected," Emily said, taking a deep, stabilizing breath. "I am in love with you," she rushed to say. "I've tried this whole friendship thing, and don't get me wrong. You are the best friend I've ever had, but I want more. I need more, Jennifer. I need you, and it kills me to be your best friend and nothing more." Emily met her eyes and JJ stared at her disbelieving. Everything the blonde had ever wanted was right there ready for her to reach out and take it. Emily quickly closed her eyes and looked away. "I'm sorry. I thought I owed it to you to tell you how I felt. I guess I was wrong about what I thought you felt too," Emily spoke solemnly, her voice cracking with emotion. "Thank you for being my friend." Emily's whisper was soft, broken, and dejected. A solitary tear escaped and trailed slowly down her paled cheek. JJ's heart broke in a million pieces knowing she was the one causing Emily to cry. As soon as she realized it wasn't a dream, she was standing next to the hospital bed. She perched on the edge and cradled Emily's face tenderly. Emily turned away, trying to save herself any more heartache.
"Emily, please look at me," JJ begged. Emily's bottom lip trembled slightly. Moving her hand to rest gently underneath Emily's chin, JJ guided the woman in front her, turning her face softly. Emily refused to look up because she was afraid of the rejection she would see in the blonde's blue eyes. "Please," JJ whispered. Emily closed her eyes and knew she couldn't refuse the request. Lifting her eyes, Emily prayed that she wouldn't get hurt, that JJ wouldn't run away. The brilliant blue eyes she found were full of love, desire, and longing.
"I wasn't wrong?"
"No, Em. You were so spot-on. You are it for me. You are what I want. I love you," JJ whispered against Emily's chapped lips, their foreheads barely touching. "I love you," she repeated for emphasis. Emily smiled, and for the first time in days, she didn't feel her world spinning.