A/N: This is the final chapter of the story. It always was intended to only be six chapters, since it is my first attempt at writing a multi-chapter story and I didn't want it to get away from me. Thanks to everyone who stuck with it. I hope you enjoyed it.
AFTER THE STORM
There will come a time, you'll see,
with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart,
but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see,
what you find there.
With grace in your heart,
and flowers in your hair.
"I know," JJ responded. She had just finished telling Garcia what had happened between her and Emily in Paris.
Garcia continued to sip her beer, looking off into the distance. JJ could see the gears turning in her friend's head, as she processed this new information. JJ swished her beer around in the bottle before gulping the remaining liquid. "I can't believe you haven't said more. Is Penelope Garcia actually speechless?"
JJ expected a fiery response to this. Instead, Garcia turned to look at her, her eyes brows knitted together, "I'm just thinking."
JJ tried to hide the hurt in her voice, but her eyes grew dark again. "What is there to think about? I told Emily I loved her and in return she used me and left me alone in a hotel room in Paris. Seems pretty straightforward to me."
Garcia looked off into the distance again, taking a few more sips of her beer. "Maybe..." she started, "But it doesn't sound like the Emily I know."
JJ shrugged, "Well, maybe we don't know the real Emily Prentiss, after all." She set her empty beer bottle down and sighed, "I mean I know she's very private, but I never took her for heartless."
Garcia shook her head, "That's what doesn't make sense."
"What do you mean?"
"Well..." Garcia hesitated, unsure of if she should say what she was thinking of saying. Well, she reasoned to herself, it's not like things could get any worse. "It's just that the Emily I know absolutely adores you. And I don't mean in a friendly way."
"Pen, I doubt that..."
"No, JJ, it's not a question," Garcia interrupted her friend. "It's a fact. Like Morgan is sexy or Reid is a genius. Emily Prentiss is interested in you." She watched her friend carefully. She knew from past conversations that JJ was unaware of any of this. She had tried multiple times to get JJ to ask Emily out on a date, hoping JJ would get the hint, but she never did. "She's never said it explicitly but everyone knows it's true."
JJ looked shocked at this, "Everyone knows? Why didn't you ever tell me?"
At the desperate and bewildered look on her best friend's face, Garcia couldn't help but laugh. "To be honest, I can't believe you never noticed. It's very obvious."
Garcia didn't know if her friend really was that oblivious or if she was just afraid to admit the truth. "Oh, come on JJ. The two of you used to flirt all the time." JJ thought about this. When they both had still been at the BAU, she and Emily did have a strange relationship which included a lot of playful flirtation on both their parts. Nothing had ever happened between them then, though not for lack of desire on JJ's part. But there was that time, before JJ had left the BAU, that they had gone to a football game and Emily had casually referred to it as "a date". JJ had even almost kissed Emily that day. Some might have taken what happened between them in Paris as a sign of Emily's attraction to JJ, and the blond had briefly considered this herself during that one night they were together. But since Emily had left her alone, without saying goodbye to her face, let alone addressing her admission of her feelings, JJ had assumed since that morning that Emily didn't really care for her, and simply had been lonely and looking for company. But was Garcia right? Did Emily really feel that way about her?
The two women sat in silence, JJ utterly confused and Garcia completely amused at the whole situation.
Finally, Garcia broken the silence. She still was struggling with something that didn't quite make sense. "You know, Emily said something before she left. She said something about that she thought it was over and that she was doing what was best. Any idea what she meant?"
JJ slowly shook her head. She had no idea what the brunette had meant. The two sat in silence again, thinking over this new information.
Suddenly JJ let out a long sigh and brought her hand up to cover her mouth. She closed her eyes, "Oh no. I am such an idiot."
Garcia figured she must have missed something because she had no idea what her friend was talking about, "What? Why?"
JJ opened her eyes and looked at the older blond. Her hand was still partly covering her mouth. "I know what she meant, Pen." She removed her hand and turned to grab her things. "I have to go. I have to find her." Garcia could tell from the other woman's demeanor that the best option was just to let her go. She said the only thing that seemed appropriate, "Well, then you better go find her."
JJ got up and started to walk away from the booth. She hesitated and turned back to Garcia, realizing she lacked a vital piece of information, "I don't even know where she is."
Garcia reached into her bag and withdrew her phone. She turned the device on and rapidly began selecting options on the screen. As she did this, she gave her fair warning, "If you tell anyone about this, I will deny it ever happened. " She stopped moving her fingers and focused on the screen. "She's at her old apartment."
JJ leaned over to look at the tech analyst's phone, incredulous. The screen showed a map, with a tiny red dot labeled 'E.P.' in the center. JJ's mouth fell open. "How did you... she just got back... "
Garcia quickly turned off her phone and returned it to her bag. She casually picked up her beer and turned to look at JJ, "Well, what are you still doing here?"
JJ gave Garcia a quick hug before turning and heading towards the exit.
Emily stood looking out the picture window at the National Mall. The sun had long since set, the Capital building and Lincoln and Washington Memorials were brilliantly lit amidst the darkness. Paris may be beautiful, she thought, but there was no sight in the world like the one she was taking in at this very moment. Not as buildings were concerned, she corrected herself. Of course the only truly unparalleled sight was of JJ.
Just the thought of the blond made Emily's stomach turn, as she exhaled slowly. Having only been resurrected from the dead for a day, as far as most of the world was concerned, there was still much to be sorted out. But the one thing she felt certain of and that was that JJ was never going to forgive her for what she had done to her in Paris. Emily knew if she was in her friend's shoes, she likely would feel the same way, but she also had the benefit of knowing her intentions. A sudden knock at the door interrupted her inner dialogue.
Emily turned to just stare at the door. Who could possibly know she was here? The apartment was empty of anything material, save herself. She had sold the space and had her things removed when she 'died', but the lousy housing market had played to her fortune and luckily she was going to be able to re-acquire the property. But no one knew that but her.
She cautiously moved towards the door, unsure of what she should expect to find waiting for her on the other side. She reached the door and peered through the peep hole. To her complete shock, standing just on the other side of the wooden barrier was JJ. The blond was staring straight ahead, the only emotion on her face was one of determination.
Emily saw no way of avoiding the imminent confrontation. She turned the dead bolt and slowly opened the door. She didn't know what to say so she said nothing as her brown eyes met the blue ones of the woman standing at her door. She only opened the door halfway, standing in the open space, one hand on the door frame, one hand on the door.
The two women stared at each other for a few seconds, the longest they had done so in six months. "Can I come in?" JJ finally ventured. Her voice was soft, showing no signs of the hostility she had shown towards the brunette earlier.
Emily hesitated, "That depends. Are you going to be mean to me?" She knew she had no right to sound hurt, given what she had done to JJ, but she couldn't help it. The blond's reception to her return, no matter how deserved, had strung. At her question, Emily expected JJ to give a sarcastic response or just turn and walk away, but to her surprise the blond maintained eye contact and answered in a soft, yet firm voice, "I won't be mean, I promise."
Emily stared at JJ a few seconds longer, silently gauging her sincerity. Satisfied, she opened the door all the way and stepped into the empty apartment. JJ took the cue and entered as well, closing the door behind her. With no where else to sit, Emily stood with her back to the counter of the kitchen breakfast bar and used her arms to push herself up onto it. JJ came to stand a in the middle of the kitchen, facing her.
"Emily, I need to ask you something about Paris."
Emily's whole body tensed at this. She has been hoping to avoid a fight but JJ bringing up Paris from the start meant this now was unlikely. Instead of saying anything in return, she simply nodded.
"When you..." JJ swallowed hard, trying to determine how to best phrase what she wanted to ask. "When you left Paris to go after Doyle, did you think you were going to die?"
JJ saw Emily's shoulders deflate, as her eyes dropped to the floor. In a barely audible whisper, she answered, "Yes."
"And is that why you left without saying goodbye?"
"Yes," again, just a whisper. But then Emily raised her eyes, her voice became stronger, "But that's not the whole story."
"Oh?" JJ responded.
Emily explained, "I found out the day before that you were who the State Department was sending. I found out what hotel you'd be staying at, though I didn't know what I was going to do with the information." She was looking directly at JJ. There was five or so feet separating them, but Emily swore JJ must have been able to hear her heart beating wildly in her chest. She forcibly swallowed the lump that was forming in her throat and continued, "When I saw you, standing across the street, looking at the Eiffel Tower, not having seen me yet, I forgot about everything. About Doyle, about death, about running. Not only did I forget about it, I flat out didn't care about it anymore. All I cared about was you. Which is when I decided to leave you the note at the cafe."
Emily noticed JJ tense up. The blond said softly, "I still don't understand, Emily. I thought... when you didn't say anything... and then you left..." Her eyes went to the floor.
In one motion Emily jumped down from the counter and crossed the small kitchen. She lightly touched JJ's shoulder with one hand. When JJ didn't pull away, she used the other to touch the blond's face and raise it, so their eyes were again level. "I'm sorry. I thought I was doing what was best, protecting you. I realize now that I hurt you. Please forgive me."
JJ nodded slightly in response to this, mesmerized by how close Emily was to her, the warmth of her hand on her face. JJ started to speak but Emily beat her to it, "I thought about you every single day I was gone. Because the truth is that I do love you, JJ. I've loved you for quite some time."
JJ looked back at Emily, taking in the brunette's admission, along with the dark circles under her eyes. She reached out her hand to touch Emily's waist, immediately registering the way her hip bones jutted from her small frame. "You're so thin," she murmured, verbalizing her thoughts.
"I'm so tired, Jay," Emily corrected, closing her eyes.
For six months JJ had longed to hear Emily call her by this term of endearment. Without a word, she leaned in and kissed Emily lightly on the lips, her other hand going to Emily's waist and pulling her closer. Emily readily kissed her back. After a moment, JJ broke the kiss and pulled Emily's head to rest on her shoulder, her arms wrapping around her. She felt Emily lean into her, almost collapsing in her embrace.
Sensing that Emily might just fall asleep right then and there, JJ slowly pulled back, while moving her hand to take Emily's. "Come on, Em, let's go to my place. You can sleep there."
"Okay," Emily responded, relieved. For the first time in a long time she felt like she might actually be able to sleep. Part of it was knowing that JJ didn't hate her, the other part knowing that JJ would be right there next to her. She realized she had a long road ahead of her; after all, one doesn't come back from the dead and simply rejoin their life right where it left off. But, Emily realized, maybe this was a good thing, a fresh start. Her battle would be not in gaining trust, but in demonstrating to those she cared about that she trusted them as well. She was more determined than she ever had been before to win this battle, and she was going to start right here and now. With this woman, whom she adored more than anything in the world.
The two women left the apartment, hand in hand, making their way towards the cool Fall evening. Ian Doyle was dead, but Emily Prentiss was very much alive.