So here's the million dollar question of nitpickery, In, what was it, Sense Memory (?), why was Prentiss speaking French at a Tuscan villa? Every time I think about the Lauren-arc, I think about that, and just want to beat my head against a wall.
Anyway, moving on. This came from prompts from sarahb2007 and Nancy J. Lisse, from another story I wrote, "This Must be Hell". This is kind of the companion to it, or I suppose the alternate version.
Clyde sat patiently in the hotel room, turning the page in his newspaper and ignoring the sounds of heaving coming from the bathroom. It was just past midnight, but the room was lit and the bed was untouched. They'd arrived only an hour ago, after criss-crossing half the damn world on an Interpol jet. She'd vomited in that bathroom too.
Sean was still in Italy, keeping an ear to the ground, and monitoring Doyle's men. Tsia and Jeremy were creating a paper trail for the detainment, interrogation and eventual release of one Lauren Reynolds, arms dealer and girlfriend to the terrorist, Ian Doyle. By next week, Lauren would fall victim to a fatal car wreck.
He finally heard the toilet flush and water run in the sink, shortly before the door opened, and she walked out, steadying herself on furniture and looking like hell. Not moving, he let his eyes rise above the edge of the paper to watch her, musing on the reddish curls of Lauren Reynolds. When he'd first met her almost eight years ago, Emily Prentiss had straight, near jet-black hair, and a smile that spoke of mischief.
Now, she sunk onto the bed, slumped over, her elbows on her knees, and holding her head in her hands. This assignment had been very rough on her. Four months undercover, dealing with all sorts of garbage until she met Jack Fahey, seven more of working with Doyle, flirting and casually dating, and for the last ten months and change, she had been pretty much living with him. Almost two years on this assignment, the longest the team had ever had, and part of him already knew it would be her last with them.
"You want to tell me what's going on now?" He asked softly, finally setting the paper down.
Emily looked up at him, her face pale and drawn, eyes so heavily guarded he could read nothing except exhaustion from them. "What do you mean?"
"You have a better memory than that, Em. You said you were too close."
She'd called last week in the middle of the night, as close to begging as he'd ever heard her. She needed out as soon as possible, she was too close. Clyde didn't question her, he'd known and worked with her long enough to trust her judgment. More importantly, he'd promised her that he have her back on this assignment, swore that he'd keep her safe. She needed out, so he'd make it happen for her.
"I just couldn't do it anymore."
Clyde frowned. "Did Doyle hurt you?"
She laughed through her nose. "No. That I could take."
"Then what couldn't you take?"
She bit her lip, ran her tongue over the top, and glanced at the floor. When she met his eyes again, he was surprised to see tears shining in hers.
He swallowed, something was very wrong. "Em?"
"It's Ian's baby."
He wished he could say something else, but frankly, he was too stunned to navigate his expansive vocabulary. This did explain the call, and her behavior since he'd met up with her, as well as all the vomiting. He'd thought that was just her decompressing, and it might be part that, but his money was on morning sickness. Dear god, she was pregnant. Carrying the spawn of Ian Doyle in her womb.
Clyde blew into his hands and ran them through his hair. He sat there in silence trying to wrap his mind around the conversation, before finally looking up at her. Her nose had gone red, and she was clearly struggling to hold back tears. He didn't know what to say, so finally he settled on, "How're you feeling?"
She laughed softly. "Nauseous. Terrified."
"You haven't eaten all day, why don't we order some room service?"
"It's after midnight."
He glanced at the clock, and walked over toward the phone and stack of hotel information. "They don't close the kitchen until two. What would you like?"
"Saltines…and a banana." He gave her a look. She sniffled and clarified. "Bananas are good for upset stomachs, my nanny used to give them to me."
He blinked. "Sometimes I forget you were a silver spoon child."
She offered him a glare. He ignored it and turned to call in the order. When he finished he walked back toward her, and sat beside her on the bed. "So, what's the plan?"
Emily shook her head. "I don't know."
"I don't need to tell you, the fewer people who know about this, the better."
She nodded, and Clyde was beginning to feel less blind-sided. At least, until she began to cry.
Not once in their years together, through all the things they seen, done and been through had she ever shed a tear. Now her hands were hiding her face, and her body was shaking with sobs.
He did the only thing he could think of, he put an arm around her, and gently pulled her toward his body. Emily leaned into him and sobbed against his shoulder, silent sobs, the only kind, he realized, that would be acceptable to her Ambassador mother. As she cried, Clyde had two realizations.
She, or at least part of her, had loved Doyle.
He'd failed utterly in his promise to protect her.
Emily screamed as her body felt like it was ripping in half. She heard the doctor say something about a head, but could barely focus. Her body felt like a furnace, hot as hell, and sweat pouring off her like a waterfall. The doctor told her to push again, so she leaned up, squeezed Clyde's hand and pushed with every ounce of energy she could muster. The doctor commanded her to stop again, and she flopped back onto the hospital bed.
The hospital bed in the hospital in the middle of Who-The-Fuck-Knows, Kansas, as Podunk a town as she'd ever seen. The town that had been her home for the last five months, since she'd started showing, and Clyde had come to her rescue with his contacts. How he had more contacts in the states than her, she'd never know, but they'd helped place her here and find her a good OB with no questions asked.
"Okay Beth, you ready to push again?" Not flinching or reacting to the name, Emily nodded at the doctor, and began pushing again.
Clyde was the only one who knew her real name. The only one that knew she was pregnant, and the only one who could give her whereabouts with any accuracy. The team had disbanded, the Doyle-mess too much for all of them, and she'd finished what she'd need to, and gone off the grid. No one would miss her, she'd spent so much of the last decade off the grid. Her mother barely reacted when Emily told her that she'd be unreachable for five months.
Ian would have missed her, but that didn't matter now.
Emily flopped back onto the bed, panting and feeling the tears still streaming down her face. Clyde squeezed her hand, and whispered against her ear that she was doing great. He'd been an invaluable source of support since that night at the hotel when she'd dropped this bomb on him. Of course, he'd thought she was nuts not to have an abortion, but he'd helped her anyway. He didn't know everything though.
Declan Doyle was dead. A beautiful little boy with bright blue eyes, and the sweetest smile she'd ever seen had been given a new life. He would be safe and loved, and wouldn't grow up to become his father.
Clyde and everyone else still believed that Declan was Louise's son. Emily would fight with everything she had in her to keep it that way. That sweet little boy wasn't going to become anyone's pawn.
Neither was this child.
"One more good push, Beth, and you're done! Just one more," the doctor coached.
Emily nodded her head, pulled as much oxygen as she could gather into her lungs, and pushed as hard as she could manage. It was pain like she could never have imagined, but she felt something slide from her body. Weak, spent and beyond exhausted, Emily fell back against the bed again, eyes closing as she tried to catch her breath.
Then she heard it cry.
Her child was crying.
"It's a girl," Clyde told her. She looked up at him. "She's beautiful, Em."
Emily let her eyes wander toward where the nurses were cleaning the baby off, and examining her. Her. The little baby girl that just came out of her body.
The nurse finished with the baby, swaddled her tightly, and went to leave when Clyde stopped her. She'd told the nurse and doctor that she didn't want to see the baby after it was born. She didn't want to hold her; she hadn't even wanted to know the sex of the baby.
Clyde took the baby in his arms, cradling her small body, and smiling at her. Emily never would have imagined she'd see Clyde Easter smile at an infant. Then he turned.
She knew exactly what he was about to do and shook her head violently in protest. But he ignored her, and walked toward the bed anyway. Emily continued shaking her head, feeling fresh tears burning the backs of her eyes.
"No. No, I can't…don't you make me do it," she plead.
He stopped next to the bed, baby squirming in his arms, and titled his arms so she could see the child she'd brought into the world. Her eyes grew wet. "You need to do this, Em. You and I both know you do."
At the moment, her eyes dropped toward that of her daughter, a matching pair, and Emily stopped fighting. With tears falling down her cheeks, she allowed Clyde to put the baby in her arms. She was wrinkled and all red, and her head was cone-shaped, but she was easily the most beautiful thing Emily had ever laid eyes on. A mess of dark hair on her head, wide, brown eyes, and so much of Ian's face in her. That didn't didn't horrify or sadden Emily.
It made her miss him.
That made her hate herself a little more than she already did.
"The couple adopting her won't be here until the morning, you have all night, you should take it, Emily."
Emily looked up at him, meeting his eyes, silently asking, begging for him to tell her, to give her the permission that she'd never given herself. Keep her.
But he didn't. Clyde looked down at her sadly, and shook his head. "You're doing the right thing."
"Then why does it hurt so damn much?"
"Because you're a good mother." With that, he kissed the top of her sweat-covered head, and left her to be alone with her daughter.
Emily held her all night. Spent all 13 hours and fifteen minutes cradling her daughter, studying her fingers and toes, memorizing every contour of her baby girl's face. She fed her, burped her, changed her, and soothed her back to sleep. Clyde must have played pitbull with the nurses, because no one ever came to take her away. Not until morning.
She had just put the baby against her shoulder to burp her when Clyde showed-up again. He looked like a man headed toward the gallows, and the contented smile that had been on Emily's face fell. She still carefully burped the baby, wiped the spittle from her mouth, and lay infant rest against her chest for several minutes, enjoying the warmth of her weight. Then she cradled the baby in her forearms, and Emily pressed a kiss to her newborn daughter's forehead. She looked up at Clyde.
He looked at the door, and nodded. A nurse came in, and with great reluctance and already fighting tears, Emily allowed her daughter to be taken from her arms. And, she must have looked like a mess, because the nurse didn't immediately leave. She glanced between the two spies, and settled on Emily.
"Are you sure this is what you want?"
"No. It's not what I want, but it's what's best for her. That I'm sure of." The nurse seemed satisfied with that, and turned her heel, disappearing from the room and taking Emily's daughter away forever.
Her face grew hot and her eyes wet. "You said they're good people right?"
Clyde nodded. "I vetted them myself. I told you I'd give you the file if you wanted it."
Emily shook her head. "She's safer if I don't know where she's going."
He nodded, and the room was still and silent for several minutes, until a broken sob erupted from her throat. Clyde was beside her in seconds, and for the second time in nine months, Emily found herself sobbing against his chest.
There was an empty spot in her womb, and a blinding ache in her chest.
Two weeks later, Emily was in her new apartment in Washington, D.C., getting ready for her first day at her new job. Clyde hadn't tried to argue or finagle when she said she wasn't going back to Interpol or the CIA. He'd promised to write her a good recommendation to whatever agency she chose. She'd almost laughed at that. She gets knocked up and maybe falls in love with a terrorist and she gets a glowing recommendation from Clyde; she brings home straight As her first semester of college, and she receives a non-committed grunt from her mother.
But, today Emily was starting over.
She was supposed to start last week, but Agent Hotchner hadn't been so thrilled with her arrival. She'd had to beg and plead to be let on the team; she'd almost been tempted to cut the shit, and tell him about her real history. But, she hadn't.
She and Clyde had worked so hard to carefully craft a fabricated history with the Bureau. Emily knew a guy in the DOJ, who knew several people in the Bureau, two of whom ranked as Assistant Directors. They'd glanced at her fabricated history, listened as she and Clyde explained the necessity of keeping her work in intelligence confidential, and studied her qualifications. He'd put her paperwork through happily, and directed her straight to the BAU.
It would be nice and low key. Serial killers, homicides, and the occasional child abduction and serial rapist. Very black and white.
Emily had dyed her hair back to its natural color, squashing any trace of the dark brown-red that might be lingering. She'd also gotten her hair trimmed, and this morning, she'd parted her hair perfectly down the center, and straightened out every last curl. A clean, pressed suit and a white blouse, professional watch, and sensible shoes, and she would play this new role.
She would be an FBI agent. This Emily Prentiss had spent the last decade riding a desk at the Bureau, a safe and quiet job. She'd lived in a few cities in the US, paid all her taxes, and had the average number of dates. She had some interesting skills from living overseas as a child, but had lived a rather average life as an adult.
Emily had never joined the CIA. She'd never been recruited to work on an Interpol task force. She'd never gone undercover in an attempt to bring down an Irish terrorist. There had never been a Lauren Reynolds. She had never become pregnant by that Irish terrorist, and certainly, have never given birth to his child.
She'd erased the last ten years of her life with official FBI documents, which was as close to actually erasing her past as she could get. Emily had buried and compartmentalized her life, and the very existence of her child, because anything less made her chest hurt too much to breathe.
Thinking about Ian, thinking about Declan, it made her body tense, and her throat catch, and felt almost like she was drowning. And, maybe she was, in the misery of all the loss, of all the sacrifice, of all her failure. Emily knew, she should never have gotten as close as she did, she should never have let herself care about him. The minute she let herself feel, it was really all over. The minute Ian had confessed that Declan was really his son, she'd desperately wanted him to take the deal she offered. But, he couldn't and wouldn't, and even if he had, she couldn't have gone with him.
So, there was no Ian. There was no Declan. And, there was no baby girl whose red, wrinkled face was still floating in her memory.
Emily went to work.
She shook hands with the pretty blonde, who introduced herself as JJ, the Media Liaison, and then dived right into protocol. She was kind and friendly, and knew how to occasionally crack a joke to keep all the dull bureaucratic bull interesting.
She was thrilled when they got a case, and followed closely behind JJ as she led the way to the conference room. Garcia, the spunky blond tech was already parked at the table, studying her computer screen, her hair done up like a five year-old. Agent Hotchner rushed in quickly behind them, a tall, well-muscled African American, or maybe half African American, man followed him, the famed Jason Gideon behind him, and lastly a kid who looked way too young to be in the BAU. He must be the genius she'd heard rumors about, only 26 and brilliant, practically a walking encyclopedia.
"Everybody meet Agent Prentiss," Agent Hotchner commented as they piled into the room.
"The other day," Garcia confirmed with a smile. She had to be one of the warmest people Emily had ever met.
"I've been filling her in on protocol," JJ said.
"Derek Morgan," the dark-skinned man reached a hand out. Emily leaned over the table and introduced herself, repeating her last name, needlessly.
"We can make nice later," Agent Hotchner reminded them, and they quickly got into the case.
Information went back and forth, the young genius, Dr. Spencer Reid, rattled off facts like no one she'd ever seen before, quickly confirming her comments on the bomb. Everything was going well until she inevitably stepped in it.
She translated the Arabic effortlessly, and completely without thinking. When she finished and looked up, all five of her new team members are giving her looks, some fascinated, like Garcia, others questioning, like Morgan. She scrambled to cover.
"Uh, I lived in several Middle Eastern countries growing up." It was a pretty innocuous explanation, and it was mostly the truth. She did learn Arabic growing up, but then she'd improved her skills in college, and perfected them in the CIA.
They accepted it and the conversation moved again. Emily offered any information she can, and her pulse ticked up only slightly at the mention of the CIA interrogators at Guantanamo. The briefing ended with urgency, as expected with a terrorist attack, and she spent the next twenty minutes wondering, and alternately hoping Agent Gideon would and wouldn't take her with him.
She ended up on a jet to Guantanamo Bay, and watched her new colleagues play chess as a means to distract her racing nerves. She'd never worked with anyone who'd done a detail at Guantanamo, but she was still worried the CIA operatives they were meeting up with would recognize her. Then her cover would be blown, and she'd no longer be Emily Prentiss, career FBI agent; she'd be Emily Prentiss, former CIA operative with a train car full of baggage.
The turn just before landing nearly knocked her breath out, and she'd barely caught it when they met up with the CIA people. She didn't recognize them, and they didn't recognize her.
Emily swallowed. Her nerves died down as the case proceeded, and she slid into her new role easily. These are good people, true white knights, and maybe a few years with them would clean some of the black from her soul.
But then, her soul is clean.
She was Emily Prentiss, career FBI agent.
Thank you for reading and for those of you who do, thank you for reviewing, and to my readers in the states, have a great Thanksgiving!
Sequel is called "Mother".