As JJ starts to come awake, she stretches, her arm landing on the empty bed beside her. She frowns, knowing she can hear Emily and feel her warmth. As she wakes up some more, she smiles as she realizes what Emily is doing.
"And so you won't get anything this year but next year you'll both get gifts just like your big brother and sister. And I promise you: even if you are identical twins you will have gifts that will be different colours or something to distinguish them as yours and only yours, okay? And also, none of that freaky dressing twins alike thing. That always made me think of the little girls in 'The Shining' and I just won't let that happen. Now, if you are fraternal twins, then you will definitely have different toys and I will make sure your older siblings know they are yours, okay?"
"They say okay," JJ answers for them.
Emily glances up. Normally she can tell when JJ wakes up but the brunette had been so enjoying a little time with the babies she hadn't noticed JJ stirring. She pulls JJ's shirt back down over the baby bump and scoots back up the bed, pulling JJ into a hug.
JJ sighs happily. "Yes, it is." She runs her hands over her wife. "I would have hated for you to be alone at Christmas. Thank you so much for doing all you did to get home. It means more to me than you know."
"Ah, it wasn't too much," Emily shrugs off.
"Honey…I set the AmEx bill to pay."
Emily blushes and grins. "Oh. Meant to intercept that bill."
"I checked the online statement because I was worried it would get misplaced with all the guests and other holiday craziness." She pulls Emily into a kiss. "So thank you, Emily. I love you."
"I love you, too."
The two start to kiss, gentle, loving caresses of their lips. Emily runs her hand under her wife's sleep shirt, rubbing circles over the babies…and her hand gets kicked. The women break apart as Emily stares down at the stomach. They watch as once more the skin vibrates like a drum head.
"Oh, Jennifer," Emily whispers.
She places her hand back on her wife's stomach and JJ's hand joins hers. Sure enough the women are treated to several more swift kicks from one or both babies. Emily looks up at JJ, tears in her eyes.
"Oh, Jen," she says again.
"That's the first time they've done more than kick my bladder. Guess they missed their Mama, too."
Emily nods and leans down to kiss the bump. "Hi, babies. I promise I will do my best not to be gone so long again until well after you arrive, okay? And I'm sorry your mommy got so worried with me being gone. I will strive to keep her stress down and her pickle supply up." She gets a kick in reply. She smiles. "I'll take than as an 'okay, Mama'." She looks up at her wife. "God, Jen…I'm so…so…"
JJ nods. "I know. Me, too."
Emily crawls up and gives her another kiss. Before it can lead to more they hear two voices on the monitor for Rocky's room.
"Aunt JJ! Aunt Emily!"
Emily sighs. "Sounds like Abby and Rocky are ready to see what Santa brought."
JJ nods. "Yep. We can continue our wake up booty call later."
Emily bursts out laughing at the description. "Deal, Mrs. Prentiss."
Emily gets up and pulls on a robe. JJ gets up and heads to the bathroom since the babies seem to be complaining there's not enough room inside when the bladder is full.
By 7:30 the adults are all up and the kids are itching to get into the living room. Emily looks at Abby, Rocky and AJ.
"You sure you got gifts? I mean, were you good little girls and boy?"
"YES, AUNT EMILY!" Abby insists as Rocky and AJ dance beside her.
"Well, if you're sure…go see!"
The little kids race into the living room. Squeals of happiness are heard as the kids see all the presents under the tree.
"MOMMY! I GOTS THE BARBIE DREAM HOUSE!" Abby yells.
"I see that, Abs," Shelby says as she and Emily head to the tree to make sure all the gifts get to the right recipient.
JJ stands at the doorway, sipping on her decaf coffee and filming the festivities. She pans over everyone and sees how happy Mrs. Nettles is. Yep, the kind widow has a new batch of kids and grandkids for sure.
"Okay, Abby," Shelby says, getting her daughter's attention. "Can you help me hand out gifts?"
"Okay, Mommy," Abby says, putting down one of the pieces for her new Barbie house.
"Good girl. This is for Grandpa."
Abby runs it over to Alan. Rocky walks over to Shelby and puts out her hands.
"You going to help, too, Rocky?" She gives her a gift. "This is for Grandma."
Rocky takes the gift, drops to the ground and starts to open it. Emily laughs and takes it away.
"I think this one may be too young to quite get what we're doing here."
Shelby nods, grinning. "Definitely."
Soon all the gifts are passed out. Rocky had gladly helped her Mama rip open her gifts. Mrs. Nettles had been very surprised to see even she had a gift from "Santa", a nice new cardigan. When everything is opened, Rocky plants herself in Emily's lap so her Mama can show her how to work her new remote control golden retriever puppy.
"What's your puppy's name?" Emily asks her.
Emily laughs at the name. "Fred, eh? I think that's a fine name for a pup."
"What's your horsie's name?" Mark asks his niece.
Emily kisses the top of her head. "Bill the Horse and Fred the Puppy. You are a cutie, Rocky."
Mark nods. "Both names are great." He looks at his mother. "A bit weird but great."
"Oh, stop. They will probably have a dozen names over the next few days. Fred and Bill are cute."
Just as things are settling down and JJ and her mother are talking about getting breakfast started, Gerald and Elizabeth arrive. They had wanted to be there the night before but a longtime colleague got married on Christmas Eve and they felt duty-bound to go.
"I mean, really, who gets married on Christmas Eve?" Elizabeth had said more than once in the days leading up to the event.
More craziness ensues as they have gifts for everyone and also have to open those awaiting them. After that is done, Gerald goes with Sandy into the kitchen to get started on brunch for everyone. JJ sits down on the couch beside her father.
"I am so happy everyone is here," she tells him as he wraps an arm around her shoulder.
"Me, too. And I had a wonderful chat with Mrs. Nettles this morning. So sad that her kids don't seem to want to do family things. Makes me proud that you and Mark love to spend the holidays with either us or he goes to Shelby's family."
JJ smiles. "I hope my kids follow in our footsteps. Family should always be the priority."
He nods and kisses JJ's temple. "Definitely. Of course next year Mark and I will have prime hunting land so you may never see us for Christmas again."
JJ laughs. "Don't you dare make me regret agreeing with Emily's idea, old man."
Alan laughs and just gives her another hug.
"HI, MAMA! HI, MOMMY! HI, ROCKY!" Henry screams as he appears on the big screen TV.
"Hey, Champ, did Santa find you like he promised?"
"Si, Mama! Look!"
With that he launches into a showing of the toys he had gotten from Santa, as well as ones from Will and Helen, and Will's cousin, who adores the little boy. When he finishes, JJ smiles at him.
"You got some great gifts, Henry. You must have been very, very good because Santa even left one here for you."
His eyes get wide. "What is?"
JJ shrugs. "It's all wrapped up and will be waiting for you when you get here with Daddy. Are you going to eat a big turkey today for Christmas?"
"No! This is Nawlins," he drawls. "We eats crawfish!"
Emily winces and JJ laughs. "Ah, of course. I should have guessed."
A few minutes later the grandparents come in to wish Henry, Will and Helen a merry Christmas. When it is coming time to say goodbye, Will glances at Emily.
"By the way, Em, you're lucky it's a bit chilly down here."
"Henry won't take off his sweater. Even put it on over his pajamas this morning."
Emily smiles proudly. "Ah, how sweet!"
Will grins and nods. "Yeah, it is. But we'll need to sneak it away from him tonight to wash it or it will be walking on it's own by the time I bring him back to D.C."
Emily laughs. "Ugh. Good point."
They talk a few minutes more then end the session. Emily is holding Rocky in her lap. The little girl's energy is starting to wane.
"So, little one, how about a nap before everyone gets here?" Rocky just nods. Emily looks at JJ. "I'll take her up to our room. That way if Abby wants to play in Rocky's room or take a nap herself she can do so."
"Good idea." She leans over and gives Rocky a kiss. "Have a good nap, Rock Star."
Rocky twirls her fingers into JJ's locks and pulls her mommy close. "Love Mommy."
"I love you, too, sweet girl."
Rocky gives her a kiss then lets her go, turning in Emily's arms so she can tuck her head into the crook of Emily's neck. Emily smiles contentedly.
"Come on, Rocky, let's go take a nap."
Rocky just nods, already slipping into slumber. JJ watches as Emily climbs the stairs with their daughter.
"God, they are so beautiful."
By 3 the BAU has invaded and the house is noisy with laughter and happy chatter. Reid and Morgan have teamed up to play Mark and Shelby in Foosball while Rossi is taking on Hotch in Air Hockey. Jack is in the playroom with the other kids building an elaborate city with Henry's blocks, all while under the watchful eyes of Sandy, Liz and Mrs. Nettles.
JJ and her dad are watching a football game and discussing the final week of the NFL season and the playoff implications for various teams…sans the Redskins much to JJ's chagrin. But since his Steelers are in Alan is quite happy with how the season has gone.
Emily walks room to room just enjoying everything. So many wonderful people in her life. She chuckles to herself as she thinks she would have to tattoo on a forest to really show the depth of her strength. No, she is definitely not alone any more. The only ones missing from the day (other than Henry) are Tom and Declan, who are taking their yearly ski trip and Francesca who is visiting her cousin in Delaware with her granddaughter.
"Bill erasing for your thoughts," Garcia says as she walks up.
Emily smiles. "Just…basking in the love."
"Awww…so freakin' cheesy," Garcia teases.
Emily chuckles. "Yeah, I guess it is. But it's the truth. The tattoo only incorporates my wife and children. Dawned on me just now I'd have to tattoo on the Amazon to do justice to all of you."
Garcia grins. "I know what you mean. JJ is so touched by that tattoo and SO glad that damn 'alone' one is gone."
Emily grins. "Yeah, I know. Maybe later she'll be able to- -"
Her words break off as Hotch's phone starts to ring with a particular tone. All the BAU members in the area stop what they are doing and stare at their boss as he answers.
"Hotchner." He listens a few minutes. "I thought we weren't cleared for travel yet." He listens again. "I see. Send me the information. I'll contact the team and let them know."
JJ walks up. "Please tell me I didn't hear the hotline tone."
"I'm afraid you did. Looks like we won't have tomorrow off after all," Emily confirms as she puts her arm around JJ's shoulder.
Hotch nods a few times. "Understandable. Fax the information to the number listed for Agent Jareau. I'll take a look at it when it arrives." He hangs up and looks at his team. "Wheels up at 7 tomorrow."
"What's going on?" Rossi asks.
Hotch glances at his son, who had just come in to check on his father. "Probably best not discussed here. I need to call Jessie. She's not supposed to be back until tomorrow night and- -"
"He can stay here, Hotch. My parents will be here through the New Year," JJ tells him. Jessie can pick him up whenever is convenient." She looks at Jack. "That sound okay?"
He nods. "Sure, Aunt JJ."
Hotch ruffles his hair. "Good. Head on back to play. I need to go look at something, okay?"
"Okay, Daddy." Jack hurries back to the playroom.
The entire BAU team goes upstairs so Hotch can tell them what is going on. By the time they reach the office in the master bedroom the fax is coming through. Reid closes the door as he enters last. Hotch looks at his team.
"We're going to New Mexico. A small town south of Albuquerque had a commune. It's been there since the 60's and always had artists and farmers on it. They contributed to society, they were accepted by the community. No one had been seen for a few days. A man drove out there this morning to pick up a portrait he had commissioned and walked into a nightmare." He takes a deep breath. "Best guess is sometime in the last 24 hours the entire commune committed suicide. Men, women, children, livestock all dead."
"Son of a bitch…it's Jonestown all over again," Morgan mutters.
Hotch nods. "Sounds like. Sheriff guestimates 100-150 bodies."
"What do they need us for?" Emily asks. "We don't usually do clean up details like this."
"True. But the problem is they don't know why the suicides happened, if it really was a mass suicide or was it a mass murder, nor do they know who would have had the power to get so many to either kill themselves or kill others."
"Who ran this place? Even communes have a hierarchy," Rossi points out.
"One of the original founders was still in charge as far as the sheriff knows. His body was found in the main meeting hall with a good number of his followers. These people weren't on any agency's radar so if someone else manipulated all this we have no idea who." He looks at Garcia. "You'll be with us to go through any and all tech found. Choose an analyst to work with you from Quantico as there could be a lot and you may need extra eyes."
"Really? For a commune?" Garcia asks.
"In addition to farming and arts they supported themselves doing web design and site hosting," Hotch explains. He takes a deep breath at the next part. "All the bodies are being left as they were found. It will help us decide if it was a collective suicide or if there was murder involved. The M.E. will be taking blood samples from everyone to try to determine what sort of poison was used. We only have tomorrow to see things as they are before the collection of bodies starts. I'm sorry to have to ruin the rest of your holiday."
The others nod, knowing it is just the job. Hotch takes the papers that had been faxed over and makes copies of them to pass out to everyone. Each team member reads the synopsis; all are disgusted. One page has a map of the buildings. Hotch studies them.
"There are bodies in every building but one. This may get refined on scene but for now, Garcia you will be in the offices. Prentiss, I want you to take the classrooms; find out what the kids were being taught. Reid, take the building that housed the arts and crafts; what were they making. Rossi, Morgan and I will start with the housing units." He looks at JJ. "JJ, I only ask this out of concern for your stress level and for the fact that the bodies could be starting to decay: do you want to help Garcia in the offices, where there are no bodies or do you want to assist with the housing units?"
JJ rubs her baby bump, contemplating the question. Finally she sighs. "Can I decide on scene?"
He nods. "Of course." He looks at everyone. "It goes without saying this will be a tough case. If you need to step away, do so. If you need to get off scene for a few minutes, no problem. Full details are being emailed. Don't bother looking at it until you get on the jet tomorrow." He takes a deep breath. "I know it will be hard, but let's go enjoy the rest of the day. Let the kids help you put this out of your mind for now."
The team quietly breaks up and goes back downstairs. Emily is trying to get thoughts of what they may see out of her head when she feels a tugging on her pant leg. She smiles down at her daughter.
"What're you doing, Munchkin?"
Rocky sits on Emily's foot and wraps her arms and legs and around Emily's lower leg. Emily chuckles. "Oh, sure: make your old mama do all the work. Let's go see how soon until dinner."
That said she walks as best she can with her little girl attached to her leg. That scene alone helps the others start to put work away for the rest of the day.
Tomorrow it would be back to business as usual at the BAU.
Emily sits beside her daughter's bed, stroking a hair over the dark curls, smiling as the little one coos over and over. Finally she leans down and gives her a kiss. She scoots over to the pallet on the floor and tucks Abby back in and gives her a kiss, too. She gets up and goes to Henry's room, where AJ sleeps in Henry's bed with Alaska. The pup looks up at Emily.
"Don't worry, buddy, I won't tell Henry," she promises.
He puts his head back down on AJ's leg. Emily smiles as AJ's hand curls into the dog's scruff.
"Might be time to convince your parents you need a puppy, kiddo," she whispers. She straightens his covers and kisses his head. She senses someone behind her and turns, smiling. "Hi. He's fine."
Shelby nods and walks in. "I know. Just came up to grab something and thought I'd check on the kids. Guess you beat me to it."
Emily shrugs, happily. "What can I say? Always a step ahead."
Shelby chuckles and puts a hand on Emily's shoulder. "That's fine by me."
Emily stands so Shelby can give her son a kiss. She then loops her arm through her sister-in-law's as they walk out of the room.
"So, what's the case you all are going on tomorrow?"
Emily groans. "I can't believe I'm leaving again so soon."
"I can't imagine how tough it is especially with the uncertainty of making it back by today."
"We have a saying in the BAU."
Emily grins. "Sometimes the job just sucks."
Shelby laughs as they start down the stairs. "Good saying. So stop dodging the question like Jenny does. What's the case?"
"Either a mass suicide or mass murder at commune in New Mexico."
Emily nods. "Sounds like. Problem is, no one knows why and no one knows who the mastermind was since the known leader is dead and it's seems out of character for him to have called for this. We have to profile the scene as it was found and any writing or video we can find. Then re-profile it all once the bodies are gone."
Shelby stops, stunned. "So the bodies will be…oh, fuck…yeah, sometimes the job sucks."
Emily nods sadly. "Yep, it does."
"Look, if you or Jen need to…to vent or anything, give me a call."
"Thanks, Shelby, but we won't want to haunt you with this. That's why our shrink is on speed dial."
"Good point. But the offer is there anyway, Em."
Emily gives her a hug. "Thank you."
The two sigh as if in unspoken agreement to drop the topic as they enter the living room to spend more time with their family.
Emily sits down beside her mother on the couch. So much had been going on that day they hadn't said more than a few words to each other. Elizabeth puts an arm around her daughter's shoulder.
"How you doing?"
"Tired. Kinda ticked about having to leave tomorrow."
"Only kind of?" Elizabeth asks.
Emily smiles. "Okay, more like very furious but…it's the job, right?"
"Yes. Doesn't mean you always have to like it. Especially after the last case put you somewhere that could have kept you away for who knows how long."
"True. And if it hadn't been for Sara's skill as a pilot and the willingness of her friends to do what they did I wouldn't be here. I plan to send them a nice package of non-perishables as thanks. Not sure when they will get it but I plan to send it soon in hopes a break in the weather will get it onto the island for them."
"Good idea. Make sure you send the thanks of all of us." She kisses her daughter's temple. "Wouldn't have been Christmas without you."
Emily smiles. "Thanks, Mom." They sit there in silence a few minutes. Finally Emily turns to her mother. "What?"
"God, I hate when Jen does that. Don't you do it, too. You sighed and hugged me tighter. What's on your mind?"
"Jennifer told me about the killer on this last case. What she went through all those years ago was…oh, that is terrible. I've since Googled those so-called treatments and just can't believe parents did that to their children." She takes a deep breath. "I couldn't do it to you," she finally says quietly.
Emily sits up and looks into her mother's eyes, seeing regret and revulsion in equal parts. "What do you mean?"
"A priest recommended we send you to a hospital he knew. He promised they could cure you or…or they could keep you indefinitely. It would be better for my career, he assured me. It sounded barbaric and inhumane. I decided right then you could love whoever you wanted but I could never do that to you."
"Oh, Mom…I often wondered if…or why you didn't…oh, Mom." Emily pulls her mother into a hug. "Thank you for your bravery."
"It wasn't just bravery, Emily. You were smart, inquisitive, and so firm in your convictions I couldn't imagine quelling any of that without it doing more damage than good. I just…couldn't do that to my baby."
They are still hugging a few minutes later when JJ walks over. "Uh, you two okay?"
Emily pulls away and nods. "Yeah. Just talking about…stuff from when I was a teen."
JJ nods knowingly. "Ah, your mother told you about that place she refused to send you."
Emily nods. "Yeah, she did."
"You two okay with that?"
Elizabeth looks to her daughter. "Yes, I think so. Emily?"
Emily nods. "I guess I never recognized how brave you have been all your life, Mother. Thank you for telling me." Elizabeth kisses her cheek again.
JJ grins. "See, I told you it would be good for Emily to know. I love when I'm right." She pauses. "Probably the reason I'm so happy 99% of the time?"
Emily groans. "Oh, geez…is it just me or did the room get smaller as her head got bigger?"
The three women chuckle. JJ extends her hands to the ladies.
"Come on: quick game of Tripoly before we have to get to bed, Agent Prentiss."
Emily and Liz take her hands and stand. Emily wraps her arm around each lady as they walk to the dining room to join into the game. It is a perfect way to end Christmas Day.