Emily's body was tensed and tuned into every sound and change in the air around her. Her breath in her throat, she checked that Darby was secure and scrambled toward her bag for her gun. She flicked off the safety, and pressed her body into the corner opposite the door.
It could be rescuers, but it could be people with far more sinister motives. And her maternal instinct was far too strong at the moment to take any chances.
The footsteps were coming fast and Emily's pulse was pounding through her brain. Her throat was dry, and her finger tense on the trigger when a familiar figure appeared at the stall door.
"Rossi!" A great breath whooshed through her mouth, and she felt tears prick her eyes.
"This is a cozy little place you have here," he said, surveying the place with a smirk. She could see the exhaustion and relief in his eyes though; he'd half-expected to find dead bodies.
"Not the vacation we planned," she played along.
"There's no reception here," Hotch said, appearing with the same look in his eyes. "It's good to see you're okay, Prentiss."
"Thanks. Derek went out hunting." She could see that both men's eyes were rimmed in red and cradled on dark, sagging bags. She wondered if they'd slept at all since Derek's call to Garcia.
"We've got rescuers swarming this place, we'll find him," Rossi said. "In the meantime though, we should think about sending you out with the rescue workers. A doctor should check you out, make sure the baby is okay."
Emily smiled. "Actually, the baby is fine." She approached the two men, gently tugged her zipper down a few inches, and exposed the face of her sleeping daughter.
Rossi's mouth fell open. "You delivered here?"
"Yep. Not exactly what I pictured when the pee strip came up positive, but we all survived."
"Then you really ought to have medical care as soon as possible," Hotch said.
"Bring in EMTs or paramedics if you have them, but I'm not leaving this barn until Derek gets back."
Rossi went to open his mouth, but jogging steps stopped him.
Reid's voice hit her, before she saw his face. "Hotch, Rossi, they said you found them!"
The young man stopped at the sight of her, his mouth fallen open. "You're okay."
Emily nodded, and barely had time to react when Reid practically jumped forward, and wrapped his arms around her. He held her tight until he took note of the mass on her chest, and quickly backed up, eyes wide. She opened her coat again. "This is Darby."
She hadn't even seen Hotch disappear, but she did see him reappear, a man and a woman with him. "Madelyn Taylor and Harvey Marcum, both are rescue paramedics. We'll step outside while they examine you."
Emily nodded, and watched her friends walk back to the center of the barn while the paramedics entered the stall. She had to fight every impulse in her body in order to let the male take Darby, who was awake and confused. She further had to fight every impulse to snatch the baby back when she began to wail from the cold.
Their examination was pretty quick, though it was still thorough. The two paramedics pronounced them both to be very healthy, and noted that Darby scored very high on her APGAR. When they left, Rossi appeared.
"Hey," she said, briefly looking up as she swaddled Darby.
He stroked the baby's cheek, a smile on his lips. Then he sighed. "You should brace yourself for more intense reactions when we get you home."
"You all thought we were dead."
Rossi nodded. "Yes, we did. We knew the gas would have run out by now, and if you couldn't keep warm…" He let it hang.
Emily tucked Darby into her coat and zipped it up, then she walked toward Rossi and hugged him. "We're okay," she said.
The older man sighed. "Thank god for that."
Morgan sat outside the hospital room in the maternity ward while the doctors checked Emily and the baby over again. He wasn't particularly worried, but the exhaustion of the last few days was catching up with him, and he just wanted to take his family and go home. He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands. Did they even have enough supplies for Darby at home?
He didn't have much time to ponder that before a whirlwind came down the hallway in the form of an exuberant Penelope Garcia flanked by JJ and Blake, who were trying to keep her from totally erupting. They each carried things in their hands, including one wrapped package per person.
"Oh my god, oh my god, you're okay!" The tech dropped the package and diaper bag she was carrying on a plastic hospital chair and wrapped him in one of the tightest hugs he'd ever received.
"How're Emily and the baby?" JJ asked, far more calmly than Garcia, but with a warble in her voice revealing her relief. He disengaged from Garcia and hugged his other friend.
"They're both fine. I'm just waiting on the doctors to figure that out." He nodded at Blake, still not as close to her as the others.
"You delivered the baby yourself?" JJ asked.
Morgan nodded with a little chuckle. "I was so terrified I'd screw up that I almost threw-up once."
"Reid wouldn't tell us what you had, boy or girl?" Garcia practically bounced as she spoke.
He smiled. "A little girl. Darby Rebecca Morgan. She's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life."
Hotch returned then, snapping his phone shut. "The tow truck just dropped off your car, Morgan."
"How did you guys find them?" Blake asked. "Spencer said the car was buried."
"The car windows weren't buried, and the sunlight reflected off of one of them. We saw the light and followed it."
The door to Emily's room opened. "Oh, hello everyone," the doctor said. "Uh, I've examined Emily, she seems fine, and considering she gave birth days ago, I'm okay with her going home. Just keep a close eye on her, I already told her what signs should tell her to come back to the hospital. Dr. Warner, the neonatal specialist also finished with the baby, and gave her a clean bill of health. Darby gets the same instructions as Emily. I'll send a nurse with discharge papers."
He'd barely left when the neonatal specialist appeared, nodded and gestured them inside. Garcia squealed as they entered the room, in a state of euphoria from finding them alive and finally getting a niece.
"Hi," Emily greeted, smiling at them. Darby was swaddled in her arms, awake but quiet, her eyes staring up at the ceiling.
"Oh my god, she's so cute I could just eat her up!"
"Well, I'd prefer you not eat her, but would you like to hold her?"
Garcia scoffed. "Do you really need to ask?"
While Garcia basked in the glow of having another little one to gush over, JJ walked to Emily and gave her a tight hug. "You two had us scared for a while."
Emily nodded. "We were pretty freaked too."
After they all took a turn with the baby, Derek took her back to her mother, and that alone seemed to quiet her fussing. He sat on the edge of the bed and stared at the two people he loved most in the world, until his attention was drawn by their three female friends approaching.
"We picked up some stuff from your apartment, and I stocked you guys with diapers. The diaper bag has some too, along with clothes, and we brought the car seat so you can take her home. And Christmas presents for the munchkin."
Emily protested. "But you guys got us shower presents a month ago."
"Well, these are just small. Things we saw when I dragged them with me to pick out diapers. Both of them being mommies, I figured they'd be better than me at picking out appropriate size."
"I tried to tell her that I haven't gone shopping for diapers in fifteen years, but she didn't listen," Blake said, a smile on her face.
"I didn't realize that diaper styles change over time," Garcia said.
"Well, thank you all very much," Emily said.
Morgan nodded. "Yeah, thank you guys, this means a lot."
Hotch drove them home, to the house Derek had lived in for the last eight years. They were considering moving to somewhere with a bit more space and a bigger backyard, but they'd decided his home was enough for now. The year had been busy, and with the baby coming, they hadn't had time to deal with it.
Hotch turned around to look at them. "The press hasn't gotten wind of this yet. We put out a bulletin that you were both missing, but we haven't released that you've been found. They will find out though, and when they hear that you had the baby in that barn, it will be a big story."
Emily bit her lip, and turned at Derek's eyes on her. He turned back to Hotch. "I think we're spending the next week or so inside anyway."
The Unit Chief nodded. "You'll let us know if you need anything?"
"We will," Emily said. "Thank you, Hotch."
They made their way up the front steps into their apartment, lugging the baby seat, diaper bag, and their bags, into which Emily had jammed the gifts. When they got inside they instantly dropped everything, except the car seat, which Derek sat softly onto the floor. Emily eased the baby out, and turned to him. "You jump in the shower first," she said.
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, Darby is going to want to eat soon." Emily shooed him away, and began dealing with their belongings.
She removed the gifts from their bags, and tossed the bags full of clothing into the laundry room. She carried the baby and diaper bag to the nursery, and tried in vain to figure out what they did with the bassinette. That would be Derek's task when he was done with his shower. When Darby began to root around her chest, Emily gave up with a sigh, and headed toward their bedroom. It was really more Derek's bedroom, but he'd done his best to accommodate her belongings and taste. What she did like was that it had a nice big bed, plenty of fluffy pillows and a bedside table that could accommodate a clock, her Glock and a book. Lamps were built into the wall on either side of the bed, so she could read without disturbing him and vice versa. Emily pushed the door open to the bedroom, and stopped short at what greeted her there.
JJ and Garcia must have put it together and brought it in here. Emily smiled and turned to Darby. "Look what your aunts did for us."
Darby was interested only in a meal though. Emily shimmied on the bed, and relaxed as the baby drank her early supper. When Derek finished his shower, she handed him the baby and stripped off her clothes on the way to the bathroom. He of course tossed her a comment about how much he enjoyed the peep show.
This was her first shower since giving birth, her first shower in days, and it did wonders for her body. The hot water beating down her back was practically magical in it's work on her sore muscles and joints. Sore from childbirth, sore from the cold, sore from sleeping on hard barn floor the last four nights. She had been lucky in that the post-childbirth bleeding had been minimal, but her groin area still felt like she'd had sex with a jackhammer.
She stayed in the shower probably longer than she should have, but she figured she was making up for the handful that she hadn't been able to take. When she shut the water off, the bathroom was still steamy, and she reveled in the warmth. She dried off quickly and towel-dried her hair, and then walked naked back into the bedroom.
"You know, you keep walking around in your birthday suit, and I may begin to think that's the house dress code."
Emily shot a grin at him as she walked to the dresser. "It could be."
She heard the bed move as he climbed off it, and wasn't the least bit surprised when an arm wrapped around her middle, and his breath hit her ear. "If we weren't so worn-out already, I might try and test that theory that you can get a woman to orgasm just by touching her breasts."
She turned and pressed her mouth to his, then looked up at him with a naughty smirk. "If we weren't so worn-out I might let you."
Derek chuckled and pressed a kiss to her temple. "I love you," he said, before pulling away, so she could dress.
Still naked, Emily pecked him on the lips. "I love you too."
He pulled the curtains over the windows – the blackout kind, something that had been non-negotiable for her – while she changed into pajamas. Then he laid their sleepy daughter in the bassinette and sat on the nearby edge of the bed until her eyes slipped closed.
His mother would arrive in two days, after they'd had time to adjust and settle into a routine. Emily was looking forward to seeing the woman, and to the help with cooking, cleaning and the baby. Clyde had called while she was at the hospital, relieved that she was okay. He'd been in the states tomorrow, and would stop in and check on them. Today though and tonight, that was all for them to just relax and revel in the fact that they were all home and healthy, that their daughter had survived her barn-birth, and that Emily had as well.
Emily stretched her still achy body, and wandered over to the bed. Derek had already climbed in on his side, his eyes still on their sleeping baby. She shut off the last light, and crawled into bed beside him. They shared another kiss and then both turned on their sides, facing the baby, Emily shimmying back to meet him, and Derek wrapping his body around hers.
He pressed a kiss to the back of her neck. "We've got what, an hour and a half until she wakes-up for food again?"
She snorted. "If we're lucky."
And that was it, their nightmare was over.
Thank you all very much for the reviews, favorites and follows!
And good news, I should be posting the first part of the sequel to "Big Words" this weekend, so be on the look-out for it.