The cast and crew of CM posted three pictures on Twitter a few weeks ago that prompted three one shots in my mind. This is the first one. Unfortunately, this is the one picture I cannot find anywhere anymore. It showed two of the actors in front of a huge table in what looked like one of the FBI's conference rooms.

I'm planning on writing the other two before the new season premiers but planning something and actually doing it are two very different things when it comes to me :)

This story is not beta's so all mistakes are mine.

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I don't own anything.

But I cannot wait for September 21!


Facing the Storm

Six feet.

That's about the distance that the heavy oak table in the conference room was creating between Emily and her former team.

Six feet had never felt so wide.

And Emily had never felt so insecure.

It had been about half an hour. In those minutes, Section Chief Strauss and the Director of the FBI had asked questions, reprimanded and explained what steps were now to follow.

Also in those minutes had the team clearly been split into three camps that were now more distinct than before they had sat down for this session.

There were Derek, Spence, Pen, and Dave who occupied on side of the table. They had been quiet for most of the time but Emily didn't need words. She could see all their feelings and emotions displayed clearly on their faces. They ranged from anger and disgust to hurt and utter disappointment. There were no tears and no yelling. Yet. And Emily wasn't sure if that was even a good thing.

Next to those four were Hotch and JJ. Both had done most of the talking during the meeting, explaining what had happened and justifying the how's and why's. Emily knew that she didn't have to expect the same degree of anger from them. But they still had to really look her in the eye. At least their words clearly showed that they were trying to have her back in all of this.

Next to her and, thus, opposite her team her eyes found Strauss and the Director. They had been asking questions for the better part of the last thirty minutes, commenting on one answer or the other, and voicing their dissatisfaction on more than one occasion in a not very subtle way.

All Emily had been able to do so far was giving yes and no answers or making one-syllable comments. She knew that this was what would be deciding her future with the FBI and - more importantly - her future with her team. The people she considered family.

And if she was very honest with herself it was going anything but well. She had been trying to at least make eye contact with somebody other than the late founder of the Bureau who was portrayed on an oil painting on the wall opposite her. But so far she hadn't been able to. Instead she had seen Derek scoffing under his breath at least twice already, Pen shaking her head more than once and Spence fidgeting to the point where she thought he might drop off his chair any minute. Dave's expression was unreadable. No surprise there.

It wasn't until Strauss had to ask the same question a second time did she realize that this wasn't going anywhere.

"As a team, do you feel that you will be able to continue working with Miss Prentiss both in the field and in the office without having the past events interfere with the team's integrity?"

She glanced at her team again and found all six of them with her head bowed, all for slightly different reasons.

That's when she made her decision.

"You know, maybe I should have just remained dead. JJ, Hotch, thank you for everything you did. But it's just never going to work. I'm sorry." She pushed her chair back and rose to her feet.

"Miss Pren-"

"No! You do not get to walk out of here now!"

"Garcia..." Hotch.

"No! Do you have any idea what the last six months have been like for us? All of us? And I don't just mean us who actually believed that the coffin we watched being lowered into the ground carried you. Us who every day stopped by your picture on the wall for minutes and every night went home devastated knowing that we would have to face the picture, your empty desk and the memories all over again the next morning. No, JJ and Hotch as well. Because they had to risk their lives keeping a secret that should have never been one in the first place. But you didn't give them a choice. "

Pen had risen about a second after she had and had her eyes and every fiber of her body trained in Emily's direction. Her look was fierce. And although Pen had taken her seat again and was no longer towering over the group like a hawk Emily felt like folding into a neat little pile of guilt.

But if she was honest with herself, she had enough. She had been fighting tooth and nail to come back to them and then had done everything in her power to get things back to the way they were before her passing. But all she had received so far were cold shoulders, icy glares and harsh words of incomprehension.

She couldn't do it any longer.

She had a hard time not returning Pen's glare tenfold.

"Don't think I didn't suffer. Every hour of every day I spent in hiding I died a little more. I died because I knew that when my plan was to keep you from harm I actually hurt you so much. And there were times when I couldn't forgive myself. Times when I thought about staying away because I was too afraid to face you ever again after all that's happened. But I did come back and I explained things and I begged for your forgiveness. I begged."

She took a deep breath and continued.

"But there's only so much I can do to make up for what I did. I did it to try and protect your families and your lives. I'm sorry if you think that my actions seemed selfish or irresponsible or cruel. I'm sorry for how things went down. But I'm not going to apologize for protecting my family. The only family I've ever had. A family I care about deeply and couldn't live without. So, you have no right to make me the monster in all of this. I'm begging you one last time to consider my side in all of this. And if you can't, at least for one minute, try to understand why I did what I did then I have no place here anymore. Because as horrible a friend as you think I might be, I don't want to ruin what's left of my family."

The room was plunged into silence.

Suddenly, Emily felt all eyes on her. She watched their faces carefully through glassy eyes trying to decipher the emotions and thoughts she knew and hoped were racing through their minds. Derek was the first one to put the anger mask back on, closely followed by Pen. She thought she detected a hint of sympathy on Spencer's face but it was quickly covered up with surprisingly well-practiced indifference.

That was the last straw. If not even Spencer Reid would try to see things from her point of view then she didn't belong here anymore.

She looked down in defeat and turned to close her hand around the door knob.

"She's right, you know?"

Dave's words startled her. Yet, she didn't turn back to face him or the rest of the team. Instead, she remained motionless and tried to control her breathing.

"Oh come on, Rossi. Don't tell me you've decided to take her side now." Derek.

"I'm not taking anybody's side here. I'm just doing what Emily is asking us to do. I'm trying to understand why she did what she did. And if you would all get over your pride and distrust for once you'd be able to do that, too. "

At this last statement, Emily slowly turned around to face Dave. Their eyes met and it took all she had not to heave a sigh of relief at his words. Dave had always stood with her over the last years, ready to give her a pat on the shoulder or a piece of his mind. Right now, he seemed to have decided to stand up for her and help her face the wrath of the three people left who were miles away from doing the same. For that, she was grateful.

Her temporary feeling of elation, however, was shattered when Spencer's voice was heard for the first time since the meeting had begun.

"She never gave us a chance to say goodbye to her."

Emily's hand left the doorknob and found the other one behind her back. She leaned against the wall behind her, shoulders sagging, and watched helplessly as Spencer's eyes glazed over. She had nothing left to say.

"Spence, there was no other option-" JJ said but was quickly interrupted by Derek.

"She let us believe she was dead, JJ! She got us to think that she's gone because of Doyle when in reality she was living a whole other life on the other end of the world. She nearly died in my arms and you personally told us that she did indeed die at the hostpital. How you could lie to us like that is beyond me. But Prentiss is the real liar in this room," he raved as he turned to Emily. "I mean, how do we even really know Doyle's gone? Who's to say she's not going to turn around and run again to hide instead of putting just an ounce of trust in us because we might be able to help her? How do we know that it's really over and she's not lying about that, too?" he asked facing Strauss with an expectant look.

"There was an operation to eliminate Ian Doyle that was completed successfully a few days before Miss Prentiss returned to Washington."

"So what? Do we have pictures? Is there actual forensic proof for us to make sure that that bastard is gone for good?"

Strauss looked at him with a hesitant frown while Hotch and JJ tentatively raised their eyes towards Emily's position by the door.

"I killed him." came the brunettes whispered reply. "That's all the proof you need. I've got all the details about the take down and the scene and the kill engraved in my memory. So, if you need any physical evidence, I still have some of the bruises from that encounter. I can also still feel his breath on my neck from when he pushed me to the ground and hear his last words before his lights went out. I was there for all of it. Because I was the one who pulled the trigger."

Had she dared to raise her eyes at them she would have seen Derek acknowledging her with a mix between hurt and careful consideration. She would have seen Spencer shifting uncomfortably in his chair and Dave glancing at her with traces of something resembling pride in his eyes. And she would have found Pen trying to surpress tears that were flowing down her cheeks anyways.

"I made a tough choice six months ago that was followed by more tough choices. Most of them I don't regret because I would choose dying over having to watch how my family is being destroyed any day. I could have stayed in hiding. I could have died my hair red, gotten a new job and lived under one of the identities I was provided. I wouldn't have been a happily ever after but I might have been able to lay low long enough for Doyle to actually believe I was gone for good. But I didn't. Because I couldn't stand the thought of being thousands of miles away from the only people who I feel safe and protected with. And happy. So I tracked him down and ended it once and for all. There was a fat chance that I wouldn't make it, probably something around 80 %" she said as she glanced at Spencer. "But I knew that being defeated wasn't an option. Because that would have meant that I wouldn't have gotten the chance to come back and apologize. But I can see that it's not working. So..." she concluded, this time with a heavy sigh, "I don't think I should be let back on this team. There's too much tension and unspoken anger. It would compromise our work and I don't want to be the reason for that."

Emily let her shoulders sag in defeat and a tear roll down her cheek when she realized that nobody was going to keep her from walking through that door for good.

That was until JJ spoke up with what sounded like pent up frustration worth half a year.

"What? No! Em, you're not leaving! I'm not going to just let you walk out of here because of something that has a chance of being mended." She pushed her chair back to stand up and sent an angry glare at her co-workers. "Emily is not denying that she's made mistakes regarding the entire situation. And neither are Hotch and I. But you need to get over it! Have you forgotten the last five years? Have you forgotten your friend Emily? How she's had your backs? And how she's jumped at the chance to save your life without having to think about it twice?" she asked as she levelled Spencer with an icy glare.

"Why are you so hung up on making this hell for her when that is where she just came from? Get a grip and gain some perspective, she saved your lives once again and you're doing nothing but kicking her when she's already down! I have no idea how she can even still be this calm right now."

Emily sent JJ a small smile and mouthed a thank you her way.

But when she found that her friend's words weren't save anything all she could was to nod and quietly open the door.

"It's gonna take time, you know?"

Derek.

Had his words just been directed toward her?

She slowly turned around and looked at him hesitantly. It was the Director who voiced her question.

"Excuse me?"

But Derek's eyes were fixed firmly on Emily's.

"To earn our trust back, that's going to take time. It's not going to be back to normal by tomorrow or next week. You realize that, right?"

Emily looked at him with a stunned expression.

"Y-Yes, I do. I do realize that," she slightly stuttered.

"And there's going to be some tension and uncomfortable situations."

"I know."

"And we have a lot of catching up to do," came Garcia's quiet voice.

That was the moment in which Emily felt the first glimmer of hope rise up in her heart.

"We will," she whispered smiling shyly at the tech.

"Then maybe we should start right now." Emily watched as Spence sat up a bit straighter and addressed her directly now.

"Welcome home, Emily. I'm really glad it's over. And I'm really glad you're okay."

Emily felt her face heat up and the tears prick her eyes as she found that she could not stop them from travelling down her face. She felt light-headed and dizzy and nauseous.

But it was a good feeling.

Because it was sheer relief.

"Thank you."


Thank you for reading! Don't hesitate to let me know what you think, comments are appreciated! :)