One Year Later
He wasn't sure when the exhaustion had finally won them over. Morgan blinked awake to see daylight streaming through his bedroom window. He pushed himself up on the bed, aware that he must have slid down the headboard during the night. The cards were discarded and spread all over the comforter, and Emily was curled on her side toward the end of the bed. Her cards were still loosely in her grip.
Morgan checked the time and then slid out of bed, leaving her to sleep a bit longer. He jumped in the shower, allowing the water to beat some of the ache out of his sore muscles. Emily had stayed at his place all week, and they'd spent most of those nights awake and hanging out.
She been scared and on edge, unable to sleep until pure exhaustion dragged her under. Last week she'd admitted to being afraid for the first time since he'd met her. She was terrified Lamashtu would try and take her again. Emily had feared that all year, but as the anniversary of her possession drew closer, the fear had gotten worse.
Morgan had offered to stay with her, but Emily wasn't keen on being at her house. So he invited her to stay with him. She'd been hesitant until Hotch, who'd overheard their conversation, encouraged her. He was afraid too.
They all were.
Morgan started the coffeemaker and stepped outside to grab the newspaper from his porch. By the time he got to the kitchen, Emily was sitting at the island looking bleary-eyed, her gaze pointed at something very far away.
"Hey," he said. "You with me?"
She turned and nodded, meeting his eyes. "Yeah."
It was Emily and only Emily. Morgan walked up to her, and set the newspaper down. He ran a hand slowly up and down her arm. A shaky sigh slid down her throat, and Emily rested her head against his chest.
Her voice cracked when she spoke. "She didn't come for me."
"Thank God for that."
Emily pulled back then and tucked all her fear and vulnerability back behind her eyes. "We still have a while before we meet everyone, right?"
"Yeah, why don't you grab a shower. I'll get breakfast started, what do you feel like?"
She shrugged. "Whatever you feel like is fine."
Morgan nodded and gave her hand a squeeze before she headed back up the stairs to the bathroom. He watched her disappeared and then pulled out his cell phone. Morgan typed in two words and sent the message off to their five teammates.
Derek drove to Jimmy's church, and they immediately spotted their friends in the parking lot. Garcia was grinning at little Henry, who was cradled in her arms. Kevin beside her, making funny faces at the boy. JJ was bent down talking animatedly with Jack, who stood shyly by his father. Emily didn't see Reid or Rossi, but the latter was probably already in the church talking to Jimmy.
As they met the others, Emily was accosted with hugs first from a relieved Garcia and then an equally relieved JJ. Hotch simply smiled and nodded. They talked for a short time, before Reid ran up, hugging Emily as well, and they set out for the church.
This was a monthly event for them now, and had been for a year. One Sunday a month they'd meet at Jimmy's church for services and then go out for brunch afterward. Emily appreciated the show of support from her friends, most of whom were not Catholic, but all of whom seemed to gain a new appreciation for God. Herself included.
Emily went to church every Sunday, usually with Morgan. Rossi frequently joined them as well since they went to Jimmy's church. In the weeks following her exorcism, Emily had gone to church twice a week with Morgan, who'd remained at her side like a bodyguard. She figured it was as much for her peace of mind as his. The days in between she'd usually end up at the church as well.
Nightmares terrorized her for months. Horrible images. Amalgamations of her time in Hell and the worst of their case files. Emily would wake up in a cold sweat, throw on clothes and drive to Jimmy's church in a fit of terror. The first night she'd simply sat in a pew, silent and calm in the sanctuary. For the several following she'd slept in the pew, finding safety in the church.
Emily smiled now, as Jimmy took her hand and received her into the church. Unlike the others, he offered her a little hug before ushering her inside. Rossi was already inside, gesturing them into the pew he'd reserved and giving her a quick, affectionate squeeze.
After several of those nights of sleeping in his church like a homeless person, Jimmy had come to talk to her. He offered her an empty room in the rectory that he'd insisted with a smile was far more comfortable then the bench of a pew. Emily had hesitated at first, but eventually accepted.
For many nights the old priest welcomed her into that room, and most mornings she'd wake up to find him waiting for her with two cups of coffee set out. After first, they would just pray and talk quietly, but after a few weeks Jimmy began nudging her to cast away her fear. His gentle prodding and the constant vigilance and support of the team had helped Emily finally feel safe again.
Though she still made sure she made it to church every Sunday, even if it was only for five minutes while out of town on a case.
And in a year, she hadn't taken off the cross Rossi had given her. Not once. Not even to shower.
The whole table laughed as they watched Henry attack his syrup-soaked pancakes with glee. JJ and Will looked on with some amusement, the latter with his arm loosely around JJ. Exactly what JJ and Garcia had told Will and Kevin was the cause of their new team outing, she didn't know, but neither man seemed bothered by it.
Rossi nudged her from her left side. "So how did last night go?"
"Good. We hardly slept. I think Morgan and I played every card game from Go Fish to Rummy to Poker."
"I tried to get her to play strip poker, but she turned me down." Morgan said from across the table, winking at her.
"Smart woman," Hotch commented, a rare smile directed at Morgan.
"Hey now, at least I play fair. Garcia does not play fair."
"I do so!" She called from the other end of the table. "I was very fair when we played, you just lost!"
Kevin looked at her. "You played strip poker with Morgan?"
"No, honey. We played "if I win three times in a row, you take your shirt off". He lost, and it was before you and I met, so don't worry." Garcia gently patted his arm.
"I did not lose, you cheated."
"I did not cheat!"
"Babygirl, you literally stashed the aces up your sleeve!"
Garcia smirked. "Okay fine, I did. But with stakes that high, who wouldn't have?"
Rossi drew her attention again. "How do you feel now?"
"Better I guess. I still feel like she could come back any minute, but I'm thinking about it less. I don't think I would have gotten through the last year without all of you, and Jimmy."
He nodded. "He mentioned that you came around a lot for a while."
"Yeah, the nightmares…and I guess I needed to feel safe. Jimmy was really generous in helping me."
Rossi smiled. "I'm glad. He's a good guy."
"You guys have been friends since you were kids?"
He chuckled. "Yeah, if you can imagine that long. We drifted apart for a while, then I ended up at the BAU and the Vatican transferred Jimmy to D.C. and we reconnected. He insists it was part of God's plan, but I don't think we're important enough for God to notice."
Emily scoffed. "Well, I didn't imagine that I was important enough for a demon to notice."
"You have any thoughts about why she did?"
"Nothing that I can pinpoint. I've done my share of morally gray things though, probably more than my share."
Rossi looked at her pointedly. "If you're referring to what we discussed a couple years ago, then you should know that contrary to the Vatican's closed-minded teachings, that doesn't condemn you to Hell."
Emily sighed. "That is just the tip of a rather large iceberg, Rossi."
He stared at her, as if he didn't believe her. It was moments like these where Emily was reminded how little they knew of her past. They had no idea she'd been CIA, then Interpol. They didn't know the things she'd done, all of them morally gray. They didn't know about the albatross that hung around her neck, the Irishman with beautiful eyes, a gentle touch, and a psychopath's disregard for human life.
Emily often wondered if that's when Lamashtu took notice, when she was surrounded by soulless, conscienceless killers. But part of her knew if was before that. She wasn't certain when, but some inexplicable feeling told her that that ancient evil had been with her much longer than that.
She cleared her throat suddenly, and lifted her coffee cup, tapping it with her fork to get their attention. "I just want to say…um, it's been a rough year and…" She stopped, trying to gather her thoughts, her tongue flicking out over her top lip. Emily started again. "To family. You don't realize how important they are to you or you to them until they are the only thing standing between you and Hell. And, you'd be the first to do the same for any of them."
The table lit up with murmurs of agreement and the clinking of coffee cups. Jack carefully bumped his cup with his father's and a few others, and Henry, not to be left out, lifted up his sippy cup overenthusiastically causing Reid's coffee to slosh over the rim.
"Okay Buddy, I think you're done with toasting for today," JJ said while she and Will both handed Reid napkins to clean his the mug and his hand.
A foot bumped Emily's under the table and she looked across to Morgan. He was looking at her intently. "One day, Princess, you'll have to tell me about that iceberg."
She hadn't been aware that he'd overheard that, but Emily nodded. "Yeah, maybe one day."
Morgan looked from her to Rossi and held up his mug. "May that bitch stay in Hell for another thousand years."
"I have seen things that I cannot explain. I have observed phenomena that I cannot deny." – Dana Scully, The X Files
First, I managed to quote the X Files for one of these, yay! Second, I realized that this kind of sounds like an advertisement for the Catholic church, but that was not my intention. I'm an agnostic, so yeah. I figured after everything that happened, they'd all cling to an extent to the religion that saved Emily.
Third, thank you all so much for the reviews on this story. It's been a rough couple of months, and that support for this story has meant a lot to me, especially since it's my first attempt at horror in years.
Thank you all for reading, reviewing, following and favoriting!