A/N: This one picks up right where "Recovery" left off with the team getting a new case. Enjoy!
Sorry it took so long to continue my stories. This past Monday the 3 year old son of a friend of mine lost his battle against cancer. Carter fought for a year but despite the valiant efforts of the doctors and nurses at St Jude's recovery wasn't to be. So, my wish for all of you is if you have kids or nieces/nephews or best friend's kids or just any kids at all in your life, give them an extra hug and kiss tonight. Heck, give them that extra cookie they want just this once. Love them and appreciate their health. No parent should have to bury their child. Let part of Carter's legacy be a little extra love for the little ones in your life tonight.
"State police in North Carolina pulled over a tractor trailer with expired tags." JJ pulls up the series of images on the flat screen. "The driver shot himself as troopers approached the cab. When they got the trailer open they found 22 people crammed into a tiny area at the front of the trailer. As far as they can tell they are all illegal immigrants from Cuba."
Morgan frowns. "Why is this our case? Shouldn't Missing Persons or Immigration be handling it?"
"They want us to talk to the immigrants as well as profile the rig itself. They need to know where they were coming from. Our findings should help both of those teams with their investigations," JJ explains.
Hotch takes over. "Prentiss, you won't be media liaison on this one. These are women and children. The only interpreter in the area is a man and they are scared of him. We think you may be able to reach them."
Emily nods. "Of course. I'll try."
Hotch looks at JJ. "It's imperative you remain a profiler-in-training on this case. That means Rossi will be our media darling."
JJ is confused. "Uh, why can't I be the—"
"See you on the plane in 30," Hotch interrupts, standing.
He walks quickly out of the room. JJ looks at Rossi. "Dave?"
Rossi shrugs. "I don't know. But I intend to find out. No one throws me to the wolves for no apparent reason." He gets up to follow Hotch.
Those remaining look at Emily. Her eyes widen. "Don't look at me! I just got back here. I figured he didn't want me in front of the cameras since I still look like I went a round with Mike Tyson."
Reid chuckles. "Not that bad. You still have your ear."
Emily laughs. "You are a twisted man, Dr. Reid. Very twisted."
They head out to get their things together. As Emily picks up her go bag she sighs. Reid looks at her with concern.
Emily gives him a half-smile. "We'll find out soon enough."
Reid smiles at her. "Emily, you'll be fine. And we're here for you if you have any problems."
She nods. "I know. Thanks, Reid. Really. I just…I didn't think I'd be this nervous."
He walks past her and lays a hand on her arm. "Everything will okay. Sounds like a pretty easy case to get back in the swing of things with."
Emily nods. "True. Which probably means it will all go to hell."
Reid laughs and nods. "Of course!"
Morgan walks over to them and they head for the elevators together. They meet up with JJ there. Just as they are about to get on, a voice stops them.
"Agent Prentiss? A word please."
Emily turns to see Chief Straus standing near the doors to the bullpen. Her team makes to wait but Straus lifts an eyebrow at them.
"She'll meet you downstairs."
They reluctantly board the elevator, leaving Emily to Straus. Emily walks over to the chief.
"Good morning, ma'am."
"How are you doing?" Straus asks compassionately.
"I'm okay. This case is probably a good one to get back on the job with," Emily admits.
"And the baby? You're physical and mental recovery?"
Emily smiles. "The baby is fine. My injuries are healing. And so is my mind. I'm seeing a shrink that specializes in PTSD. She's given me her cell number so I can call her at any time. And, to be honest, I have the team. I trust them with my mind and body. They won't let me down."
Straus smiles. "That's good to hear. Good luck with this case. Let Agent Jareau know I'm pulling for her."
"What? What are you talking about, ma'am? Pulling for Jen why?"
Straus blushes. "I, uh, Agent Hotchner will explain when he feels the time is right. Excuse me."
"Uh, okay. Thank you, ma'am."
As Emily awaits the elevator she tries to figure out what Straus was talking about. The elevator arrives at the same time as Hotch and a disgusted Rossi. She frowns.
"What's going on, Hotch? Why is Straus 'pulling' for Jen?"
Hotch rolls his eyes. "Fucking a…" He glances at Rossi, who just raises an eyebrow. "Damn it. We'll talk on the jet."
Emily glances at Rossi then back to Hotch. "Okay."
Five minutes after take-off, Hotch has JJ get Garcia up on the computer. He sits where everyone, including the analyst can see him. He takes a deep breath.
"I've been given advanced word on a change that is coming to our team. We will be losing the media liaison position."
Emily and JJ clasp hands, as everyone else glances at them.
"However," Hotch continues quickly, "they will be expanding our profiler allotment by 1. The powers that be figure local media spokespeople can be used by our team. Additionally, we are all capable of speaking to the media when needed. The headache of weeding through media requests on site will fall to me or whoever is in charge of the team at that time."
"Wait…are you saying you're leaving?" Garcia interprets.
Hotch smiles. "Not willingly. But contrary to popular belief I do take vacations."
The team chuckles. JJ sits forward. "This is why I have to stay listed as a profiler-in-training, right?"
"Yes. And you need to complete your certification by the end of March. If you do I can promote you with no problem as your current position disappears. If you don't I'll have to open the job up to standard hiring practices."
JJ nods. "I can do it, Hotch."
He smiles. "I know you can. And if I order you off a case to concentrate on your studies you'll understand why."
She smiles. "Yes. I may hate it but I'll understand it."
Emily blows out a breath. "So what does this mean about me?"
"You're a profiler, Prentiss. You can still do that job even pregnant." He grins evilly. "And it may be safer for the media to keep you away when your hormones really kick in."
Emily laughs and nods. "Probably true."
Morgan raises an eyebrow. "Probably true? Em, you scare reporters when you're not hormonal!"
"Yes, yes, I do," she agrees proudly.
So with the worry about the team's future past, it's time to get down to business. "Garcia, what did you find about the truck's route?" Hotch asks.
"Well, according to the credit card the driver had, their travels started in Florida. If the tanks were full when he started out, they probably started out in Miami. No big shock there considering their illegal immigrant issues. And before you ask, the card was a fake. The numbers just skimmed onto a blank card."
"Where is the card owner?" Reid asks.
"Edmonton, Alberta Canada. My guess is they bought the number from another criminal."
"Or they could be into card theft, also. Could have hacked some company, too," Emily points out.
"True. But that would be an awful big risk," Rossi points out. "They'd have too many law enforcement agencies that could trip over them. Would they really diversify so much?"
Morgan shrugs. "Could be like a mafia situation. Diversify and keep things separate enough that if one layer goes down the others hold."
"All good theories," Hotch says. "Prentiss, they may not know much but find out what the captives know about the people holding them. Could be they were caught under the pretense of being promised a job of some sort."
Emily nods. "Yes, sir."
"Garcia, find out what you can about that credit card and even the owner. Where could it have been stolen, things of that nature." Hotch orders.
"Already running. I'll hit you back when I have more. Garcia out!" She signs off.
By silent agreement, the team starts to work on the aspects of the case they will need to know. Emily starts to type up questions she'll want to ask each person. She'll print the file to make it easy to keep each captive and their answer together. Reid starts to plot the points on the map Garcia had emailed him, showing where the truck had stopped and for how long.
In fact, the only one not working on the case is JJ. She sits staring into space, contemplating the end of her career with the BAU if she fails her next test. Before there was no real pressure. She just needed to pass before Emily went on maternity leave or before she was barred from air travel. Now…now it was even more important that she pass. If she didn't who knows where she will end up?
Suddenly a hand squeezes hers. She looks up into brown eyes filled with love and confidence.
"You'll do fine, Jen," Emily whispers. "You'll do just fine."
JJ forces a smile to her face and nods. Emily sees the fear marring the blue eyes. She just smiles reassuringly and asks Jen a question about something she should ask the captives. Soon, JJ is drawn into the investigation, her mind no longer on her future.