A/N here's another chap, I hope you like it! Read and review pretty please!

-Nightshade

I don't own Criminal Minds!

Scars And Souvenirs

Chapter Four

A feeble cough shattered my state of shock, violently pulling me back into reality. My hands immediately went to cover the spreading red stain, becoming slippery with blood in an instant.

"Jennifer! Jennifer baby stay with me!" I begged, checking her over. There seemed to be blood everywhere, I couldn't tell where she was hurt. The wounded blonde's eyes darted about nervously, he whites of her eyes flashing in my periphery like a warning beacon as I stared at all the blood.

"Left upper arm." she coughed out, the exertion of speaking turning her face white as a sheet. I found myself transfixed by it, her weak state sucking all the energy from my body, as I regressed within my mind. Behind the safety of glassy eyes and brick walls, I was freaking out, my mind running a thousand miles a second and my body just too overwhelmed to bother keeping up.

"Emmily..." JJ called again, the words getting lost within the havoc in my head. I noticed how the exertion caused blood to gush like a river from the wound on her bicep, flooding the stagnant air around us with a new rush of that sickening bloody scent. It hung heavily around me, pooling in my limbs and heart and stomach until I felt immobile, hopeless, and wracked with nausea. The tremors of nervousness that shook my motionless body seized my stomach in an iron grip, and I felt the blood drain from my face as it lurched sickeningly. She can't die, she can't be hurt, I can't lose the love of my life in a shooting, I can't watch her die in front of my eyes!

"Em!" Jennifer yelled, snatching me out of my reverie. Push it away, you do this all the time, push away the feelings and the weakness. JJ needs you now, for once she needs calm, collected, guarded me. I ran my fingers up the limb in question, until I felt my fingertips skim the edges of a hole. An agonized scream pierced the air, and I stopped my hands cold when I heard the sound. Her blood was all over my hands, sticky and hot, filling the room with its metallic scent. Spencer, the little kid, was at my side immediately, his sleeves rolled up. He had an experienced calm about him all of a sudden, the kind that only comes from knowledge.

"Aaron's taken a shot to his leg, it's broken his tibia or fibula, we're not sure if the bullet's still in him though." he informed, as he scanned JJ's prone form. I bit back a sarcastic retort, I didn't need to know how Aaron was doing, I needed to know what to do with JJ! I took a first-aid course in elementary school, but they never taught us how to deal with gunshots! An odd sense of inadequacy flooded my kind at the thought that a twelve-year old genius knew how to help JJ better than I.

"Lift her arm up, check if the limb is broken and see if the bullet went all the way through." he commanded, seeming much wiser than he looked. I slowly lifted up her arm, trying not to cry out as JJ screamed in pain, biting her lip so hard it bled. Every single yelp or whimper sent the same amount of pain straight to my chest, like a punch, so JJ in agony left me reeling and gasping for breath. It was as if I had been injured too. There was a matching wound on the back of her arm where the bullet exited, and the arm didn't feel broken. Come on Emily, think, what do I need next! Stop the bleeding, that became my new priority.

"I need something to use as a bandage!" I barked, watching Penelope shed two of her colorful scarves and toss them my way. One of them I balled up, tucking it loosely into her mouth. I hated the confused and hurt look on the Jennifer's face, but I wouldn't be able to be strong and capable if all I could hear, reigning above my thoughts, was her pained screams, and even worse, the begging. I couldn't stand by and not lose it while she begs for mercy from a God who I didn't even think could hear us in here.

"Bite down on this if you're in pain, I'm so sorry Jayje." she fixed me with an agonized look, her baby blue eyes hardened and watery with pain. Even just nodding her head seemed to hurt, and fresh tears rolled down her blood-splattered cheeks.

"S'ok" she mumbled. Derek passed me a roll of compression bandages he must have had in his backpack for whatever sports injury he may suffer. I soaked the leftover scarf under the bathroom faucet, before pressing the damp cloth around the wound. I struggled not to be sick as I heard JJ's muffled cries, her blue eyes going as wide as possible, the whites flashing in terror before screwing themselves shut, wrinkled and trying to block out the pain. Penelope sounded like she was getting sick in one of the toilet stalls, with Derek there alongside her murmuring soothingly. With the compression bandage wrapped around her arm, I figured that all I could do now, was wait. I pulled the cloth out of Jen's mouth, before gathering her cold form into my lap, rocking her like a baby. Her exhausted eyes lolled upwards to meet mine, and her pale lips twisted to form a word.

"Hurts like a bitch." she croaked, a grimace which was supposed to look happy spreading across her pale lips, bringing a smile to my face. She was trying to be strong, she was my strong girl.

"How's Aaron?" she asked, craning her neck to see. I looked at Dave and Spencer for the answer, who both nodded encouragingly.

"He passed out, but considering how much pain he was in it was probably a good thing. His leg's broken, but I think we've stopped the bleeding for now." Dave reassured, subtly holding the younger man's limp hand, making sure he knew he wasn't alone.

"How do you stay so calm?" I asked him, bewildered. All he feelings I had been holding at bay were currently bearing down upon me with all their repressed fury, causing my head to spin uncomfortably while delirious tears occluded my vision.

"I'm in the co-op program, studying to become a cop. Some of the things I've seen, some of the stories I've heard, they're way worse than this." I noticed him grasp a small gold cross that hung around his neck, before looking up at the heavens. I sighed, relaxing where I sat while looking upwards as well, hoping to find the same peace, or some answers. We were all okay, it was a small blessing, but it was hope. Maybe He could hear us down here after all. I sent a silent prayer, for Aaron and Dave and Penelope and Spencer and Derek and all the kids who had been shot or wounded. I prayed for JJ, thankful she was still alive, and I prayed for Elle, praying that whatever wound she was suffering from, whatever crippling blow she felt the need to defend herself from, was able to heal.

I couldnt ignore the nagging worry for Elle, the brunette who'd done all this. Where was she now? Was she okay? My story would have been the same as hers without JJ, and something about that made me feel like I had to do something. I had someone, and I'm slowly healing because of it. She has no one, and all she needs is someone to tell her they care, couldn't I give her that much? As if he could read my mind, Dave interjected.

"The good thing is that every time I come home from there, I know I did something. Feeling useless is the worst feeling in the world. If you have a chance to change someone's story, take it." he spoke softly, dark eyes taking on a wise aura.

"How long have we been in here for anyway?" Derek asked, oblivious to our conversation. He was sitting against the closed door of a stall, with Penelope nodded off against his shoulder.

"Nine hours, forty-seven minutes, And twelve seconds." Spencer piped up, his unbelievable accuracy something we'd all come to expect over the last few hours.

"Thanks Pretty Boy." Derek smiled warmly at the boy, his opinion of him softening like everyone else's, before fixing Dave with his gaze.

"How's Aaron?" he asked, slight concern tainting his eyes. No one noticed the faint groan from the prone form on the floor, so we were all pleasantly surprised when the next voice spoke up.

"I'm fine, feeling a little faint though. Not to mention the fact that my leg's on fire." he croaked unexpectedly, slowly coming to.

"Speak of the devil! Welcome back Aaron, you had us worried for a little there." I chimed in, watching the young man struggle to get up. The cheer didn't feel so fake anymore, like we were putting on a facade. In this moment, we had the faintest embers of hope, glowing dimly despite the onslaught of melancholy that had nearly extinguished it all.

"Is JJ alright?" he asked, suddenly worried.

"I'm fine, you're just a little wimpier when it comes to pain." JJ joked, coaxing a laugh out of the entire room. I snuggled the blonde closer into my form, reveling in the comforting warmth while tossing an endearing grin to the others. In nine hours, forty-seven minutes, and twelve seconds, we changed from a motley group of kids, to an unbreakable circle of friends. The air of cameraderie and hope in this desolate bathroom was a welcome change. Sudden footsteps caused us all to freeze up until we realized we were staring into the eyes of a police officer, here to save us. All seven of us left the room as one, walking and limping out of the gaping school doors like victors, we survived. JJ was soon settled into a parked ambulance where the EMT bandaged her wound up properly. I couldn't help but throw a glance back into the school building, wondering if Elle was still within. JJ read my mind again, casting me a heavy gaze before speaking.

"Go, I'll be waiting when you come back to me. Just come back safe to me, okay? I didn't endure getting shot for you to get yourself killed." She whispered, placing a quick kiss on my cheek before pushing my arm ever so slightly. The nearby police officers gave me a weird look as I stared longingly at the building, letting my love's permission sink in. Slowly, as if I was compelled by an outside force, I began to place one foot in front of the other. Waiting officers stepped forward, warnings hanging from their thin-set lips, until I saw my friends. Derek stepped in front of the nearest officer, physically blocking his path and urging me on. Like it was the simplest thing in the world, I followed that high, keening note of sympathy and worry playing through my heart, and followed it right through the gates of our nightmare. Yet as I walked through the looming halls, saw the blood and the bad memories hiding in the shadows, I was not afraid. I had hope, friends, love, and a mission.