PROMPT: Castle – Rise

Author's Note: Before we delve into the meat and potatoes here, I do want to do one thing. Address the timeline. "Lauren" aired, according to , in March. Which puts "Endgame" in September, six months after March. Which works perfectly. You'll see why, and I'm hoping it works the way I want, but we're going to give it the good ol' college try.

Two, I'm going to use the cases up to where I can. I want this one finished by December 1st, so I may not use all of them in an attempt to get ahead of myself, but I am going to use at least some of them. To that end, there will be spoilers. Having said that, this is a relationship-based story and not a case-based one, so when they do show up, I'll try not to ruin too much of the case for you.

This chapter, for example, takes place during 7x02. And follows it. Know what? Just read.

Chapter 1

The first case after her return is messy.

It shouldn't surprise either of them, least of all her, but it's awkward. There's residual anger and mistrust.

Worst of all is Reid.

Emily loves the young genius. There's no doubt about it, but there's also no doubt that he can be more than a little bit childish. He never really had a childhood, and he had to mature early, so psychology tells her she shouldn't be shocked. She's not, but never in a million years would she have believed it would have manifested in this. She can kind of deal with the deliberate disregard he throws her way, but she's more than a little irritated with how he's treating JJ with.

JJ doesn't deserve that.

JJ got sidelined into it. Even if JJ was part of the decision to push Emily under, Emily knows it killed her to have to hide a secret as big as her life. It wasn't fair to the woman and Emily hates the entire situation for that alone, let alone the rest of the residual issues.

But for Reid to take it out on JJ? Emily is more than angry about that.

"I get it," JJ tells her as she mopes on her bed. Both women are glad to be sharing a room again, just for the sake of it, if not because they're friends. "He came to me… for weeks Emily."

Emily keeps her mouth firmly shut. She doesn't believe that JJ's refusal to let Reid in on what so very few people knew allows the other agent to treat JJ like she's barely there. And she's not a fan of underhanded, passive-aggressive confrontation. Reid is being underhanded and passive-aggressive. He refuses to talk to JJ about it, refuses to give her more than frustration and anger.

Of course, Emily also knows that he's not going to take it out on her, and he sure as hell isn't going to direct any of that anger at Hotch. For Reid, JJ is the safest option. It's terrible, and she hates it, but she can understand it. She'd rather Reid take it out on her, berate her for confronting Doyle, for putting herself into the situation that started it all.

Everyone knows that's not how it works.

In some ways, Emily agrees with them. She isn't normal, by any stretch. She's still having brutal nightmares, she's still battling insomnia and a residual paranoia that comes with six months of looking over her shoulder. What she doesn't agree with is this weird notion that she's fragile. That is where they're all wrong. It's also why no one will confront her about it.

Hotch is fair game. Apparently, so is JJ. Emily is not and it's actually starting to piss her off.

If anything, she is the one at fault. She is the one who decided to go after Doyle in the first place and she knows she's probably the reason behind going after him the second time. Catalysts. She pushed and pushed because she wanted this. And yet she can't help feeling that none of it is even at her fingertips.

"Doesn't change anything," Emily finally replies, her hand continuing the rhythmic stroking of the blonde's back. She'd started that the minute the two of them had returned and her arm was cramping, but she didn't care.

"It changes everything. I wish I'd said something."

"It was illegal." Immoral's probably the better word, dangerous is definitely the right one, but Emily's not entirely sure JJ quite meets the definition of normal at the moment. Or rational, for that matter. It's hard to be either when it's Reid.

It's easy to coddle him. Emily of all people knows. She's seen it, the team's done it before when they refused to see his addiction, his problems. But now? She'd assumed she and Reid still had a relationship that mean they didn't hold back. They called each other out. Yet, even Emily knows that's far from the truth.

"Cried, Emily."

The dark-haired agent sighs. "Jayje, I'm not sure what you want me to do here?"

And maybe that's the crux of the matter. She's glad to be back, more than happy to see that Hotch and JJ still treat her like they did before she was gone, but she blames herself.


She isn't surprised at JJ's rebuke, nor the way she wipes at her eyes. It's hard for JJ, who already feels like she let the team down once.

"You made the right decision," Emily finally says. "If he's mad… God, JJ. You and I both know the more people who knew, the more people who could be in danger. And… Reid."

He's the weakest link. It sounds terrible, and not at all how Emily means it because, God, she's seen that man go through so much in his less than thirty years. It's all shaped him and most of the time she likes the man he is. What she doesn't like is his incessant need to feel like he's not being excluded. She understands it – because he was the youngest all his life and he's got social problems – but that doesn't mean she has to like or agree with it. Not her style. Not theirs.

So all Emily can say is, "It'll work itself out, JJ. You'll see."

Know what? I hate the title. Because it's the prompt and I write for Castle sometimes and it drives me nuts when I "steal" even if I feel like the "stealing" is apropos. Because for what I want to do in this, Rise is the perfect title.

Next bet: how many of you think I can finish this in 30 days. Because that's all I've got before Christmas starts and I need to be finished by then.