I have enjoyed writing this story immensely and a lot of that has to do with you guys:) I am sad to see it come to an end, but its not really the end. This is not a goodbye, more of a see you later. I have every intention of picking up with these characters older some time in the future. Maybe a few one shots or something. I do not know when, but I promise you, it will happen:) With that being said, I cannot thank you enough for all of your comments and love for this little story. I hope you enjoy the end and its been a great ride.
"Take these broken wings, and learn to fly."
Rachel peered around the curtain and looked out to the large crowd forming. She felt like she was going to throw up. This infuriated her, she hadn't gotten nervous about preforming in front of an audience since the first time she had done it. Rachel was a pro. If anything, Frankie had made sure of that. It was the one and only good thing he had ever given her. She could preform. Right now, she felt like a terrified little girl who desperately wanted her mothers. Rachel bounced up and down on her toes, nervous energy pouring out of her. She had to pee. Again. Being nervous always made her have to go to the bathroom. Rachel ran away from the curtain and down the hall, pushing past the other dancers backstage and into the bathroom. She tugged at her leotard and costume but couldn't get out of it. She couldn't breathe, she needed to pee and she felt like she was going to throw up.
Sharp knocks on the door made her squeal. "Rach, open up! Its Spence!"
Rachel wrenched the door open. "I can't get out of it! Get me out of it!" She yelled, trying to reach around her back and pull her costume off.
"Hang on, I'll get it." Reid quickly moved forward and unbuttoned Rachel's top, freeing her to get out of the contraption herself.
Rachel slammed the door in Reid's face. "Don't go anywhere Spence!" She yelled. "I'll be right out."
"Okay." Reid mumbled, waving to two little girls who giggled and ran past him. Little dancer girls in costumes and make-up and giggling was not something he was generally familiar with. Where the hell were Emily and JJ? Reid had seen Rachel run past him and chased after her, recognizing the look of terror on her face. The rest of the team were still in the lobby, having literally just gotten back from their latest case. Reid had been assigned to go save their seats.
Rachel opened the door sheepishly. "I can't close it back up." She admitted.
"Oh, um..I probably can."
"Okay, but no looking Spence, you're a boy."
Reid frowned, utterly confused. "I know I'm a boy, what's that got to do with anything?"
Rachel sighed. "Just zip it please." She turned around and bit her bottom lip nervously while Reid zipped up her costume. Even though it was difficult to get in and out of on her own, it was probably her favorite ever. A tight little shinny black dress, sort of in the style of the 1920s flappers; she even had a bright red flower in her hair. "Is everyone here?"
"Yep. Oh, shoot, I was supposed to save seats." Reid remembered as he stood up.
Rachel looked stricken. "There not gonna have seats! Spence!"
"No, no relax I'll go right now, you okay?"
Rachel bit her lip and tasted the red lipstick that was on it, well, had been on it, she had chewed most of it off already. "Umm...yeah I'm fine."
Reid smiled, seeing right through her bravado. "I'll send one of them back here." He bent down and kissed Rachel on the cheek, causing her to grin and blush. "You'll do great Rach, have fun."
Rachel wrapped her arms around Reid's neck before he could stand up. "I love you Spence." She whispered.
"Me too."He grinned sheepishly and gave her a little wave before heading back out to the theater. Rachel walked back to the greenroom and sat down by her things. The room was full of dancers and their mothers, helping them apply make-up, fixing and securing costumes, stretching and last minute running through their dances. Rachel's shoulders slumped. She was the only little girl without a mother present. Even most of the teenagers had theirs popping in and out. Emily and JJ had been with the rest of the team away on a case. They had just arrived back home and Kaley's mother had brought Rachel to the theater, helped her into her costume and applied her stage make-up. Or she had offered to, the only thing Rachel really needed help with was getting into her costume, she had known how to apply her own stage make-up and get her hair back for years. Frankie was certainly not going to do it.
Rachel sat down on the floor and began stretching. Her eyes shot to the door every time it opened. Since the recital started in only fifteen minutes, everyone was in a hurried frenzy. The door opened almost every five seconds and each time Rachel felt a little worse. Trying not to feel bad she turned around and practiced her center split. Seconds later she felt people hovering above her and turned her head around.
"Mommy!" She yelled happily as she saw Emily's smiling face. She got out of her stretch and hugged her mother tightly.
"Hi sweetie." Emily said softly. She hugged her daughter tightly. Their last case had taken a toll on them. Young girls exactly Rachel's age had been kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered. The last little girl had looked strikingly similar to Rachel and they hadn't been able to save her. Emily and JJ had been a wreck the last two days. Emily kissed Rachel's temple then released her as JJ moved over next to them, dodging dancers who ran around her.
"Baby!" JJ yelled, possibly more excited to see Rachel than Rachel was to see her. The case had really broken her for a while. She had desperately needed to see Rachel's face, she knew her daughter was alright, but she needed to see it with her own eyes. JJ swung Rachel up into her arms in a crushing hug, kissing the little girl all over her face.
"Momma!" Rachel yelled as she tried to push JJ away. "You're going to ruin my make-up!"
"Oh my god, you're eight, please just be eight and stop talking about make-up." Emily said while JJ blatantly ignored her and continued hugging and kissing Rachel.
"Momma." Rachel whined.
JJ sighed and loosened her grip, but sat down and kept Rachel in her lap. "Here, we'll fix it." She said as she began digging through Rachel's dance make-up bag. Rachel turned herself around on JJ's lap and sat still while she reapplied the lipstick Rachel had chewed off. "Don't bite your bottom lip anymore, you don't need to be nervous, you have known these dances for months. You'll be great." JJ reassured her. Emily fixed the flower in Rachel's hair, adding a few more bobby pins that Rachel couldn't have reached herself. Rachel began playing with JJ's necklace shyly. "Baby, you've got nothing to be nervous about." JJ repeated.
"I know. I'm not, well I was, but I'm not now." She looked up at her mothers and smiled. "You guys and Spence fixed that. I just...I thought you weren't going to make it."
"So did we for a second." Emily said softly. "But we wouldn't miss this for the world Rach."
Rachel grinned and looked up as her teacher called for everyone's attention. "Alright, moms, dads, everyone who isn't a dancer you need to head back to the theater and take your seats. Dancers, line up for the opening number please."
Emily and JJ both leaned in and kissed Rachel's cheeks for good luck and told her they would see her after the recital. Rachel ran over and stood next to Kaley bouncing on her toes, this time out of excitement rather than nerves. Kaley gripped Rachel's hand. "What if I mess up?" She whispered in terror.
"You won't." Rachel said giving her friend a hug. "We're gonna be awesome and after were gonna get pizza and ice cream!"
"And flowers." Kaley added, her nerves slipping away seeing that her friend was so calm. "My mom and dad got me a big thing of flowers."
"Its called a bouquet." Rachel informed her. "That's cool. I've never gotten flowers after a performance before."
"Really?" Kaley asked a little shocked. "But you've done it so many times, like for real, like not just a silly recital, like for grown ups and money."
"That doesn't mean you get flowers. I never knew any of the people I danced for. Its usually people you know who give you flowers. Like parents and friends and stuff. I never had any of those." Rachel explained as the got into place backstage. Their teacher was onstage, announcing the sign up for summer classes, informing them of the reception after the recital, to please not come back into the green room during intermission, and that the recital was being tapped professionally if people wanted to purchase a copy.
"You do now." Kaley whispered as the music began and the oldest girls leaped onto the stage. "You've got more people here than anyone I think."
Rachel beamed at Kaley, then quickly twirled onto the stage behind her to join in the opening number. She plastered on her stage smile, this time, nothing about it felt forced. She was happy. She could hear cheers and whistles coming from the front and grinned even more as she caught sight of Morgan, Garcia and Reid standing up in the front row waving and calling her name. Morgan had Jack held up in his arms, Emily and JJ were cheering and clapping, while Hotch and Rossi smiled and waved. Her grandparents were all there as well, even Elizabeth had made sure she had the entire day off. The lights were very bright and Rachel could only get a glimpse of them, but it was enough.
Rachel and Kaley sat backstage with the rest of the dancers glued to the small television screen that was recording the recital. Since they weren't allowed to go out into the theater in costume it was the only way they could watch each other's dances. They had completed the opening number and had changed into their next costume. Their first dance was up after this once was completed. It was a jazz routine and Rachel's second favorite.
"Oh my god she looks amazing." Emily whispered to JJ as Rachel and her class entered and began their dance.
"That's our kid." JJ whispered back proudly.
"Emily dear, you should be proud." Elizabeth said from behind her. "She is a much more talented dancer than you ever were."
Emily rolled her eyes while JJ and Reid stifled laughs. Elizabeth had her eyes glued to the stage and didn't even realize what she had just said. "Thank you mother." Emily said sarcastically. Rachel and her class bowed and ran off the stage while the group clapped loudly.
During intermission Jack stuffed as many cookies into his pockets as he could while none of the adults were looking. He tried to slip away from his father and go give one to Rachel, but Hotch caught him at the greenroom door. "Jack." He said firmly. Jack grimaced and turned around, plastering the most innocent look on his face he could manage.
"You can't go in there, the girls are changing." He said leading Jack back over to the team.
"Rachel won't care, we've changed in front of each other before."
"We'll the older girls might and you're not allowed, wether Rachel cares or not."
"Fine." Jack groaned. The lights flickered on and off twice, signaling for everyone to return to their seats.
Rachel bit her bottom lip then quickly stopped remembering JJ's instructions. She had a surprise for her mothers. She hadn't told them that she had a tap solo. They thought she was just in the opening number, her jazz dance, her ballet class and her tap class, along with the finale. Rachel had preformed all of those – minus the finale – to perfection. Usually only the older girls got solos, but Rachel's teacher had been so impressed with her tapping that she had given her one as well. Rachel wanted it to be a surprise. She jumped up and down and shook out her arms and legs trying to will the nerves out of her body. She was the last number before the finale, and she could see her family from her position backstage but none of them could see her. The eldest girls hip hop number was almost halfway over and then it would be Rachel's turn. Hotch, Rossi and Andrew all looked bored, Rossi looked like he might even be asleep. Jack was on Morgan's lap, nibbling on a cookie, his head slumped back and watching intently, but clearly he had had his fill at this point. Garcia and Reid were whispering to each other and pointing between dancers, Elizabeth and Mary were talking and clearly disapproving of the girls costumes. Rachel glanced onstage, they were a little skimpy. Emily and JJ were both looking at the program. Rachel grinned, in order to really keep it a surprise, her dance teacher had neglected to put her solo in the program. It simply said tap solo, no name, no song, no other information.
The song finished and the girls posed, all smiles as the audience clapped. They ran off the stage, all whispering good luck to Rachel. She smiled at them shyly and took a deep breath. Her song began, 'Little Bitty Pretty One' by Bobby Darin.
Mmm mmm mmm mmm...
Rachel tapped her way onto the stage, loving the loud gasps she heard as her family recognized her.
Little bitty pretty one
Come on and talk to me
Lovey dovey lovey one
Come sit down on my knee
She executed each step perfectly, dancing better than she ever had before in her life. It felt amazing. She could see Emily and JJ – all of her family really – sitting on the edge of their seats, beaming at her. Jack and Morgan were clapping along with the beat.
Tell you a story
Happened long time ago
Little bitty pretty one
I've been watching you grow
The entire audience began clapping along to Morgan and Jack's beat. Rachel felt like she was floating. As the song wound down Rachel kept the grin on her face and finished off her best tricks. Doing a full on flip in tap shoes wasn't easy and the entire audience exploded.
Mmm mmm mmm mmm...
Oh, oh, oh, oh...
Rachel grinned and slipped into her ending pose. Grinning madly from ear to ear as her family jumped to their feet and screamed her name. Morgan stuck his fingers in his mouth and whistled loudly. JJ was screaming over the clapping that Rachel was her baby and Emily had tears in her eyes. Rachel bowed and ran off stage, hurriedly yanking her tap shoes off as the music for the finale came on. Kaley and an older dancer, Paige, were there, helping her out of her tap shoes, into her jazz ones and pulling the recital t-shirt over her head so she matched the rest of the company. She turned around and followed them back onto the stage, doing another perfectly executed flip and climbing onto Paige's back for their final pose. The entire audience stood up and clapped while the dancers posed, then bowed and ran offstage. Rachel and Kaley threw their things together into their bags and ran out of the greenroom to find their families. Rachel scanned the lobby wishing she were taller as everyone towered over her.
"Rachel!" Jack yelled. Rachel whipped her head around and was met with a crushing hug from Jack that almost knocked her over. "You were awesome. Can you teach me how to do that tapping thing?"
Jack dropped his voice to a whisper as the rest of the group came up behind him. "I stole you some cookies, they're in my pockets."
"Rachel!" Emily yelled, swinging her up into a hug. "You were amazing! Why didn't you tell us you had a solo?"
"I wanted to surprise you." Rachel said with a grin. The entire team and her grandparents surrounded her, all talking a mile a minute congratulating her and showering her with hugs and kisses and lots and lots of flowers. She was passed around to everyone, each hugging and mooning all over her. Suddenly shy from all the attention, Rachel pulled away from Morgan's hold and held her arms out to JJ, desperately wanting her mother. Rachel wrapped her legs around her waist and hid her face into JJ's neck, overwhelmed.
"How about Em and I go get your stuff together and we'll meet you guys at the pizza place?" JJ said, sensing Rachel's discomfort.
"Okay sounds good." Hotch said, ushering everyone out of the lobby.
Emily and JJ carried Rachel back into the greenroom and gathered her things. Rachel refused to be put down. Tightening her grasp as JJ tried to set her on the floor. "Rachel." She said with a laugh as she let go of her hold completely and Rachel hung there like the little monkey her nickname suggested.
"I missed you." Was Rachel's only explanation. "Did you get the bad guy?"
JJ shot a solemn glance to Emily as the brunette picked up Rachel's bag and they made their way back out into the lobby. "Yeah Monkey, we got him." She answered softly. Rachel kissed JJ's cheek and refused to let her deposit her in the backseat. "Rach..." JJ said with a sigh.
"I missed you." She said again.
"Miss me buckled in from the backseat." JJ ordered. Rachel grumbled but let go and crawled in the car, buckling herself and sticking her tongue out playfully at JJ. Emily rolled her eyes and started the car.
Rachel ran into the pizza place pulling Emily along behind her. "Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!" She chanted, Jack joining in with her as they climbed into the very large booth near the back. Hotch and Emily hushed the both of them and the group all ordered their food, still gushing over Rachel's performance. She grinned and shyly slammed her head into Emily's side. Mary and Garcia had been taking pictures all day long and ordered Rachel and Jack to sit up at the stools for a pose. Rachel was still clad in her costume, now in bright orange converse sneakers, nude tights, her black dance dress, and a red t-shirt promoting the dance studio. Her hair was still pulled tight back into a bun, the flower still in it. The two children wrapped their arms around each others shoulders and grinned. Then did one where they stuck their tongues out, then Jack picked Rachel up, then she pick him up, and then finally their food arrived.
Morgan playfully swiped some pizza sauce onto Rachel's nose halfway through lunch. Rachel squealed and was about to retaliate when Emily quickly grabbed her hand to stop her. "Really?" She asked Morgan. He simply shrugged and winked at Rachel while Emily rolled her eyes. The group stuffed themselves, took about a hundred pictures, congratulated Rachel over and over again and finally dispersed hours later.
As they drove home Rachel yawned, tired from the late hour and the excitement of the day. Emily and JJ had yet to even get home since their last case and gratefully flopped down onto the couch immediately. Rachel ignored both of them and ran upstairs to change. Not hearing them once she had shimmied her way out of her dance costume and went into the bathroom. She had never been very good at washing make-up off her face, so instead, she took a shower, knowing it would come off if she scrubbed hard enough. Leaving a wet mess in the bathroom, she ran naked and dripping down the hall when she couldn't find a towel. "Mommy!" She yelled. "Where are the towels?" Receiving no answer Rachel huffed and stamped into her parents bedroom. "Momma?" There was no one in the room. Confused, Rachel looked at the clock on the bedside table, it read 10:27pm. Rachel was cold and wet and she was very annoyed that her mothers were not where they were supposed to be. Ignoring the fact that she was naked, she stamped down the stairs. "Momma!" She yelled a little angrily. She paused as she saw them. Sound asleep, wrapped up into each other on the couch where they had sat down twenty minutes before. Rachel grinned and walked over to them. Pulling her hair together, she hovered above them and wrung it out in their faces.
"Ah!" JJ yelled, waking up and blinking.
"Rachel!" Emily asked. "What? What the hell?"
"Why are you naked?" JJ asked.
"I took a shower." Rachel said as if her mother should already know this. "There aren't any towels." She complained.
"Oh...um..okay, hang on I'll find one."
"It's okay, I'm pretty much dry now." Rachel said with s shrug, sitting down onto Emily's lap. The brunette grimaced. Rachel was not actually dry, but she let her sit on her lap anyway. JJ laughed and stood up, walking into the kitchen, she got a small towel and came back over to them. She pulled Rachel's head over and began drying her hair much to Rachel's annoyance and protests. "Momma!" She squealed as JJ kept the towel in her face.
JJ laughed and lifted Rachel up off of Emily, smirking at the wet spot all over the brunette's pants. "You little menace." She said setting Rachel down and pushing her forward. The three of them headed upstairs. Rachel went into her bedroom and found a pair of undies, climbing into them, she walked back to her mothers bedroom, half naked. Emily and JJ were getting dressed in their own pjs, Rachel took Emily's FBI shirt away from her and pulled it over her own head.
"I was gonna wear that." Emily informed her.
"May I borrow it please?" Rachel asked, already wearing the shirt.
Emily shook her head and smiled. "Yeah, sure."
Rachel walked over to the bed and crawled in, climbing on top of JJ who was already in the bed. "Can I sleep with you guys tonight?" She whispered. JJ looked up at Emily who was pulling on a different t-shirt. She sighed. Rachel had grown into the habit of crawling into their bed the first night they always came home from a case. Neither of them minded, she no longer panicked, she no longer doubted they wouldn't come home, and other than an few little meltdowns which were to be expected once in a while, Rachel had almost no problems when they left on cases. Needing to sleep with them the night they got back appeared to be her only quirk.
"Sure baby." JJ murmured as Emily crawled in and shut the light off. JJ placed Rachel in between them and sighed happily. She couldn't believe this was her life now. A few years ago she had been a young single woman, terrified of commitment, dedicated to her job and wether she would admit it to herself or not, terribly lonely. Now, she had an amazing wife whom she loved more than anything in the world, a beautiful, spunky daughter who made her smile everyday, she was a profiler, she was damn good at her job, and she had the most amazing friends anyone could ever ask for. JJ rolled her head over and was met with Emily's smiling face, she knew the brunette could see exactly what she was thinking. Emily leaned over and kissed her softly.
"I love you." Emily whispered.
"I love you too." JJ whispered back. "So much."
"Stop kissing, its gross and I'm trying to sleep." Rachel complained with her eyes closed. Emily and JJ grinned at each other, then bent down and began simultaneously peppering Rachel with kisses as she squealed and tried of push them off. It was the perfect end to a perfect day.