A/N after writing that longer story, I figured I needed a bit of a literary palate cleanser in the form of a oneshot. I've had this idea floating around in my head for a while, and it's not quite a songfic, just a fic that was heavily inspired by a song. I came across the song "Ride" by Cary Brothers when it was played on Grey's Anatomy, and upon listening to the lyrics closely I was struck with an idea. This fic takes place post-Lauren, yet ignores the final few minutes with Em and JJ in Paris, and for the purpose of the storyline, Henry and Will don't exist. It is a great song, and I encourage you guys to take a listen! Hope you enjoy it!
I do not own Criminal Minds or Ride by Cary Brothers.
In the calm and quiet of the vehicle cabin, lulled into peace by the presence of the brunette beside me and the soothing hum of the engine beneath me, I allowed my mind to wander. I allowed myself to replay all the events of that day, to think of all the impulsive decisions I had made, all the people I had let down, the secrets that I had promised never to tell that I had betrayed, and how far off my safe little path of life that I had strayed.
Yet as the ethereal fingers of the wind tousled my renegade blonde locks, and the familiarity of the city lights faded into a dim glow upon the horizon behind me, I couldn't feel more right. Love had the ability to do that to you, to turn your world upside down and shake it like a dollhouse in the hands of a frustrated child, then drop you in a random spot and leave you still deliriously happy. That's how I knew it was right, that's how I knew that leaving it all behind would be worth it, because following my heart would never fail me.
The twisted and turbulent path that I had left behind had all started in the hospital, in a dim, dreary hospital room that few knew existed. I paced the dull laminate tiles of the hospital floor, counting the scuff marks and wondering who else may have been in the same position as I, while I waited for my girlfriend to regain consciousness. The same doctor had been down almost six times already, each time telling me in the same militaristic voice that she should be waking up any minute now. That had been three hours ago.
The worry that she may never pull through sunk my heart impossibly farther in my chest, especially when coupled with the torrid guilt of having to lie to her team members, her friends and family by saying that she had died. Despite the fact that it was all a lie, I didn't need to fake the emotion. Simply the action of telling them that she was dead, admitting the worst when I knew it was a lie, made it impossible to stand stone-faced and stoic.
Watching the team receive the news was torture, the agonized wails of Penelope, the aghast face of Derek, the heartbreaking stoicism of Dave, trying to be strong for the others, the spark of hope being snuffed out of Ashley's eyes, the crushed innocence of Spencer as he admitted to me, trusted in me, and told me how he had never even gotten to say goodbye. And all the while the watchful eyes of our team leader, Aaron, hovered on mine, silently trying to convey that I was doing the right thing. I couldn't accept that though, because lying to the people whom I was closest to was possibly the most painful thing I had to cope with.
I played my part, gave him my message, the real truth, unable to speak more than absolutely necessary. Because I worried that if I kept talking, then Hotch would realize that I was lying to him as well, and I had been lying to him for a while now.
That first night, after the first kiss and the nervous rambly conversation where we exchanged feelings, Emily made me promise that we wouldn't tell anyone. She didn't want either of us to end up a victim of office politics, and if either of us told anyone, we would get in serious trouble, lose our jobs even. Because two lesbians in a loving relationship who both happen to work for the FBI is apparently the biggest threat to the nation.
But after working around profilers for so long I had become attuned to the behavioral cues of others, so much so that I could tell at first glance that she was scared, she was scared of the judgment we may receive and she was scared that admitting it makes it all the more real. So I did what you do for the ones you love, I kept our secret from everyone.
And ever since that first night, every day around my teammates had become a lie of omission. So telling Hotch that she would be fine, that shipping her away to a foreign land with a new identity would solve everything was a blatant lie, because as she admitted multiple times, she couldn't live without me.
I had quickly excused myself from his presence, an action which when compared to the stress that everyone was under, was completely reasonable, and I walked. I walked until I found myself in this dingy, dismal hospital room, pacing the laminate floor, praying to any deity with an unoccupied ear that my Emily would wake up.
Fifty-eight laps of the room later, and apparently my prayers were answered. Emily came to, frightened and delirious from the heavy pain medications she was on. The sound of raspy coughing turned into the desperate choking sound that propelled me across the room, standing in front of her, trying to calm my panicked lover down.
"Emily! It's me, Jennifer!" I cried, trying to be heard over her frantic breathing. Without any hesitation, I climbed up into the hospital bed beside her, allowing her to knot her fingers in my shirt and against my skin, reminding her that I was real.
After the panic came the tears, the relieved yet shaken sobs followed the fear like the white frothy wake of a boat. She cried in a way I had never seen before, there were the occasional breakdowns after tough cases, but this was different. Here the sobs took over her body, stealing her breath as she struggled to speak.
"Jen, Jennifer I-I, I" she spluttered in between gasps.
"Shh, Em, you're okay, it's okay." I feebly tried to soothe her as I stroked her hair, picking at a spot where her blood had mingled with her ebony locks and dried there.
"No it isn't!" I was surprised by the ferocity of her retort, but I chalked up the amplification of her emotions to the effects of the drugs.
"Because I love you Jennifer, I love you so much that it terrifies me, because I'm always afraid that it will be taken away! And now I'm going to be sent away on a plane to God-knows-where, with a small suitcase and a new name and I won't be allowed to talk to you or communicate with you, or tell you I love you, or kiss you or see you smile…" she broke off into sobs again, clutching me to her so tightly I worried she would burst a stitch.
"I love you more than anything and anyone in the world, and I want a future with you, and I don't want that future to be stolen from me just because I did my job and sent a criminal to jail! I don't want to be lost in some foreign place, hiding from a faceless enemy who could kill me at any moment, I'm scared Jennifer, I'm scared and I don't want to be alone and scared so please, please."
She took a deep breath and tried to compose herself before fixing me with her chocolate eyes that were currently a kaleidoscope of emotions. "This feels real, and right, and that's all I really know for certain, but that's all I need to know. I love you, and I need you, without you I'll fall apart, I've built my life around you and if you disappear then I'll shatter. So please Jennifer, come with me."
Those three words that marked the end of her heartfelt ramble tipped my world on its axis, leaving me hanging there in a state of panic and peace. In that split second of limbo, held in place by the burning, pleading gaze of my soulmate, I knew there was only one answer.
"Okay." The simple statement set off an instantaneous reaction, ripping all that I knew and depended on out of my grasp and tossing the fragments to the wind. But instead of being left lost, I had a new path in mind, guided by the warm light I felt whenever I was near Emily. And from that moment on, I had a plan.
Emily was to be discharged tomorrow, three hours after her funeral. It seemed so backwards, crying over the casket full of bricks as heavy as the weight of the lies on my back. I knew she was alive and well, probably arguing with the nurse that she wanted Jell-O instead of the tasteless broth they insisted on giving her to eat, but seeing her name on the tombstone, the masks of mourning worn by the others, I had no choice but to play the part of the saddened pallbearer, and I pulled it off with ease.
I sat beside Penelope and half-listened to the sermon, every sniffle or whimper coming from the usually perky blonde beside me stabbing a bitter dagger of guilt through my heart. To know that I could take their pain away with a few simple words, turn the air of sadness into one of celebration was agony, but I kept my mouth shut because the truth to our teammates may as well be a death sentence for Emily, and I refused to let that happen.
So I sat stiffly through the sermon, accepted the condolences of others without a word, and rode back to the BAU with my old team. We stayed clumped together, depending on each other to get through the pain, as we walked into the bullpen.
The piece of paper in my purse felt like a ton of concrete, weighing heavily on top of all else. My fingers brushed the tip of the notice of resignation from within my bag as I walked a bit ahead, clearing my throat to make an announcement.
"Thank you all, for the opportunity to work alongside you again, unfortunately I have some news to tell you, and I wish I could say it was better." I watched their faces fall, so used to the bad news that anything else seemed normal.
"I'm resigning from the Department of Defense, and I'm leaving. Losing Emily… I can't cope with it because…" I stuttered on my earlier lie, but now prepared myself for their reactions to the news. "Emily and I were lovers, we were in a relationship for almost a year now, and we kept it a secret, she wanted me to keep it a secret."
Gasps of utter shock rippled from the small group, as they stared at me with eyes of surprise and sympathy. "She was the love of my life and after her death… I need to take some space, to process and distance myself. I'm terribly sorry for keeping it from you, and for leaving at such a time, but I just can't handle it anymore."
The team slowly began to move, coming out of their surprised coma. Penelope hugged me first; she clutched me while she sobbed into my shoulder, murmuring her apologies. Derek seemed slightly betrayed, but hugged me and said his goodbyes as well. Hotch seemed slightly surprised at my announcement, and Dave expressed his condolences as well.
Reid took it the worst; he had started to back away as soon as I made the announcement and I knew exactly why. He was reliving the crushing abandonment he felt after Gideon left, citing similar feelings as I had. He and I were like brother and sister, and somehow I felt he would take the loss of me harder.
"Spence," I called, about to go after him before the lanky genius wheeled around, wrapping me in a bone-crushing hug, stifling his agonized cries in my shoulder as I rubbed his back and assured him that he would be fine, that he was strong and smart and he would get through this.
I felt horrible as I left the FBI building for the last time, barely able to hold in my sadness before I reached the hospital, flying into the arms of a wheelchair-bound Emily without words. As the sun dipped below the horizon I touched my jacket-clad shoulder, swearing I could still feel the dampness of their tears.
Emily was snoozing in the seat beside me, knocked out on pain meds, oblivious to the beautiful sunset in front of us. The image served as a reminder that even at the end, things can still hold beauty.
The tinny sounds of the end of a song registered in my mind, and the lyrics seemed to resonate with my current situation. So I hit the button on the dashboard, rewinding the CD my girlfriend had put in before she fell comatose and pressing play, letting the melodious opening of the song clear my head, leaving only the essentials.
The twisted web of lies and secrets had been peeled away, and with it all my worries and fears. All I needed now in life was Emily, now going by the identity of Amelia Blake, and the open road in front of me which served as a reminder to what I had to look forward to.
Behind me I had left the pain and suffering I once knew and called reality, to face a life where all that matters is the tomorrow, the future, the journey, the ride.
A/N wow, I really enjoyed writing that, and I'm pleased with how it came out. I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback on it, review please?