Title: Always and Forever
Summary: "You want to know how Emily? You want to know how I know that?" JJ asked, making sure that Emily knew what she was about to do, how much of her soul she was about to bare.
Authors Note: Well, now that I am finally on Thanksgiving Break I will have plenty of time to work on writing, if my muse produces anything interesting that is. Anyway this story came to me form the quote below and spiraled into something that I didn't expect, again. Anyway, enjoy!
"It makes me wonder. Are we all capable of something like that?"
-E. Prentiss "True Night"
The dark was not something that Emily Prentiss had been afraid of, she knew that much worse things lurked out beyond the confines of her apartment, out of the real world, beyond the limits of imagination. However that in mind it didn't mean that the dark provided some sort of comfort for her, no, instead it was the screen onto which the horrors of her day were projected. The brutalized victims, horrified families, smug and sadistic serial killers, all of it waited in the shadowy recesses of her mind. Lurking.
She heard the soft footsteps padding towards her moments before familiar hands wrapped themselves around her waist. She didn't deserve this comfort. Shifting out of her girlfriends grasp Emily spoke into the silence "Go back to bed." It wasn't a demand or a command, but a plea.
A plea that JJ was going to ignore "No." she said softly "I'm not going to let you do this to yourself."
A silence fell between the two women and for a while JJ was content to stand there, simply watching her girlfriend, reading the barely perceptible emotions flicker on her face. But as the silence stretched onwards the gap between the women grew and finally JJ felt like she was a mile away, even if it was only a few feet "Emily." She said into the silence, watching as Emily's gaze didn't shift, nor was there any other sign that the dark haired woman had heard her "Emily." She repeated "I know what you're thinking. You need to stop doing this."
"Doing what JJ!" Emily snapped, finally bringing her gaze to meet her girlfriends and JJ was almost startled by the coldness she saw "Why don't you tell me what I'm doing." She asked, sneering slightly.
She wasn't going to pretend that Emily's tone didn't hurt her and the words didn't almost pierce the armor she had carefully constructed but she could ignore them, ignore them and press on "You're going down that road." She started "I know what this case did to you, I knew from the moment those pictures came on the screen and I read the details, I knew. I could have said something, to you, to Hotch, but I didn't. I knew that you would hate me for it. But what happened in Cincinnati is not your fault."
Emily snorted, rolling her eyes "Sure it's not JJ."
"Oh stop it." JJ retorted "Stop feeling sorry for yourself, what you did in that warehouse you did for one reason and one reason only, to save yourself. Not because you are sadistic. Not because your wanted to hurt that man. Not because you take pleasure from it. And certainly not because deep down you're some sort of violent serial killer. You. Were. Going. To. Die. Being in that position, being forced to realize that there may be no tomorrow. That this could really be the end, that changes a person, changes you for the moment. It forces some, some animalistic part of you to come out. And the part that comes out when you're trying to save yourself, that does not define you."
"How do you know?" Emily cried, not sure which emotion she was feeling, be it the anger, the fear or the doubt that was driving what she said.
"You want to know how Emily? You want to know how I know that?" JJ asked, making sure that Emily knew what she was about to do, how much of her soul she was about to bare.
"Enlighten me." Emily said, clearly missing what JJ was implying.
"When I was sixteen I was working at a summer camp." JJ paused, taking a breath, it had been so long she had said that sentence, since she had told that story
Sixteen year old Jennifer Jareau rolled over in her sleeping bag, and jumped in fright as she found herself inches from eight year old Tommy Harton.
He was a cute boy, small for his age with shining brown eyes and a mop of brown hair on his head, he was currently doing the 'potty dance' "I gotta go to the bathroom." He whispered.
"Okay buddy." She said, smiling to ease the boys nerves "You have shoes on?" she asked as she slipped out of the sleeping bag and sliding on her own flip-flops.
"Uh-huh." He said "I really gotta go JJ." He whined.
"Okay." JJ said, smiling as the little boy slipped his hand into her own as they walked out of the cabin and into the night.
The blond couldn't help but shiver slightly in the darkness, it was a cool night and the trek to the bathroom was not a particularly enjoyable one. However for the sake of her companion JJ forced her own fears away and switched on the flashlight she had grabbed. Shining it in a wide ark she illuminated as much of the path as she could "JJ" Tommy said.
"Yeah." She yawned.
"Does the dark scare you?"
"Sure." She said
He nodded, as if that was the answer he wanted, or needed, to hear "Okay buddy, holler if you need me." She said, watching as Tommy nodded and scampered through the door and disappeared into the bathroom.
Leaning against the wall of the building JJ tried to ease her nerves, she hated the dark and more importantly the woods, they had always crept her out. And time passed, how long she didn't know and then it happened, she heard the sound of footsteps approaching her and she swung the flashlight up "Who's there?" she asked, instantly feeling like she was the first victim in a horror movie.
How close she was.
A shadow fell into her torch light and she gasped as she saw Casey, a fellow counselor, staggering towards her, covered in blood "J-" she gasped out, as the blond ran towards her
"Oh my gosh, Casey what happened?" she asked, her voice frantic, this was no animal attack.
"Man." He friend stammered out, collapsing into JJ's arms.
"Where?" JJ demanded, the weight of her friend collapsing in her arms only adding to her panic "What man Casey!" she asked again, the fear now obvious in her voice.
"Right here." Came a cold voice and JJ looked up quickly and froze.
Standing in the light cast from the bathroom stood a shadowy figure, and he was holding Tommy to him, the black barrel of a gun glinting in the light "Let him go." JJ said, looing at the young boy who was obviously terrified.
"JJ" he said "He's hurting me."
"I know." JJ said, surprised at her own calm, even though she was holding the unconscious body of her friend in her arms, covered in her blood "Let him go." She said "He didn't do anything."
"Fine." The man said, letting Tommy go , who initially didn't move but then, realizing he was free, ran towards JJ.
A shot rang out.
JJ screamed, watching in horror as the boy fell, an explosion of red mist coming from his chest. She was close enough to feel the blood land on her bare arms and legs, it made her sick.
The figure was advancing on her now, and JJ didn't know what to, so she screamed. But it did no use, the rest of the cabins were too far away for the counselors to be of any use to her, to help her. She felt the man clamp a hand over her mouth and she did what came instinctively to her, she bit down until the taste of warm blood dripping down her throat made her gag.
For once in her life growing up with a brother came in handy as JJ fought against her attacker. But he was too strong, to big. She was pushed into the trunk of a tree and she felt the bark scrape and cut her skin as she was forced into it, the barrel of the gun still warm from its last victim "Are you ready to die?" he asked
The words struck something inside JJ and she lashed out with a powerful leg, years of soccer and intense training all going into it as she aimed blindly. By some grace of god she connected with a sin and her attacker cried out "HELP!" she screamed "SOMEONE!" she shouted as she turned around.
Then she saw it.
As the unknown gunmen clutched his leg, JJ saw the gun glinting in the moonlight and she dove for it. She didn't know why she did it, never before had she shot, or even held a gun (shotgun, handgun or rifle before). He seemed to realize what she was doing because he dove at the gun but JJ got lucky, her hand curling around the grip before his.
However he pulled a knife from somewhere and as JJ scrambled to figure out what the hell to do he lunged for her, one powerful hand grabbing JJ's arm and dragging him towards her as e swung the knife downwards.
Finger curling around the trigger and body rocking with the force of her action, her attacker howled in pain but it was to late. The blade of the knife sliced her shirt and skin just underneath her armpit and she howled in pain as she felt the weight of the gunmen fully on her, a dead mans blood drenching her.
"I killed a man." JJ said, only now looking at Emily "I killed a man when I was sixteen years old."
"JJ, I never-" Emily started but JJ shook her head, shaking away Emily's words and the tears.
"It's not something I tell people, not the happiest days of my life." She said "But I didn't tell you that to get sympathy, I told you that story because what we do when someone is trying to kill us doesn't define our character. I shot him five times, five times Emily and it wasn't because I wanted to or because I took pleasure in it, but because I wanted to stay alive. What you did isn't any different."
"You were sixteen." Emily said, still in shock from JJ's story "I'm not."
"So?" JJ said "Does that really matter, when it comes down to it we were both scared and fighting for our life. James Donovan was going to kill you Em, what you did wasn't overkill." She said, her voice softer.
"I just couldn't stop." Emily said, looking down "I just kept hitting him, again and again. I just" she stopped, the tears now slipping down her face "I just needed him to be dead."
"I know." JJ said, she knew how that felt "Listen to what you said Em" she said, taking her girlfriends hands in her own "Needed him to be dead, not wanted, not desired, needed. You are not a monster. I promise you that." JJ whispered into Emily's ear as she pulled the dark haired woman into a tight hug, letting a few tears of her own slip and slide down her face.
Emily closed her eyes, remembering the fear that had been coursing through her as James Donovan advanced on her, the first round of electricity still in her body, his finger moving once more towards the button, she couldn't let that happen "Thank you." She whispered
And JJ didn't need to ask what for, she knew, she knew because sometimes in this line of work you need to be reminded that you're human "Always." She replied, taking a step back and wiping her tears away.
"Can I ask you a question?" Emily asked as JJ led her with one hand back to the bedroom.
The blond nodded, there was nothing that Emily could ask her that she hadn't been asked before be it by her parents, the police, Tommy's family, Casey's family, her therapist, even Hotch "Did either of them make it?"
JJ stopped walking , not because she hadn't heard the question before (although most people just read the case file or the news articles) but because out of everything Emily could have asked her, that particular one was not what she had been expecting "Casey didn't." she said "She died in my arms, I remember the moment she died." She continued "Tommy" she sighed "Tommy survived, the doctors were amazed, he graduates from Yale in the spring."
"And the gunmen?"
"He died." JJ said bluntly, but then reconsidered and added "His name was Jeffery Slater."
Emily didn't want to ask but some part of her, the BAU agent profiler, wanted to know "Did you ever find out why?"
JJ shook her head and a sad smile flickered on the edges of her lips "No. I suppose some part of that is fitting, now I work for the FBI, hunting down monsters like Jeffery Slater and James Donovan."
Emily watched as JJ turned away from her, focusing on a rather uninteresting patch of carpet. Her girlfriend was withdrawing from her, closing in on herself "JJ" Emily said softly, grabbing one of JJ's hands and taking it in her own "JJ" she repeated "you didn't have to tell me that story. I'm sure you could have come up with a thousand other ways to prove your point without having to tell me."
JJ didn't say anything for a long moment "That's true." She said "But you deserved to know."
"Thank you." Emily said, leaning into her girlfriend "Not just for telling me, but for being there."
"Always and forever." JJ replied.
Hello there, I always appreciate thoughts, comment and concerns. This was my first JJ/Emily fic in a pre-established relationship and I would love to know what you guys thought. Thanks so much.