Title: A Murder of Ravens
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 30 June 2011
Fandom: Criminal Minds, Forever Knight
Pairing: Emily Prentiss/Janette DuCharme
Rating: PG13-light R
Summary: Now that Emily is on her own, she needs to look up an old friend to help her tie up the loose ends so that she can return to the BAU.
Spoilers: post Season 6 Criminal Minds
Warnings: None, really
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DD11
Disclaimer: "Criminal Minds," "Forever Knight," the characters and situations depicted are the property of their respective owners. They are borrowed without permission, but without the intent of infringement. This site is in no way affiliated with "Criminal Minds," "Forever Knight," their owners, or any representative of the actors.
Author's Notes: A very big thank you to havocthecat, ariestess, Leah and Dee for the wonderful betas. Your suggestions/edits/criticisms mean the world to me.
The secret of getting away with lying is believing with all your heart, that goes for lying to yourself even more so than lying to others."
Emily Prentiss awoke with a gasp and shot into a sitting position on the bed. She’d been doing it a lot and it was really beginning to wear on her nerves. A lot of things were beginning to wear on her nerves though.
She got out of bed and moved around the small hotel room, checking to make sure that none of the salt she'd sprinkled around the doors or windows had been disturbed. She was sure that if Ian had found her she would be able to sense it, but there was no such thing as being too cautious. The salt and the chair against the door were all how she had left them, even Ian Doyle wouldn't have been able to get into her hotel room without leaving some kind of trace that he had been there.
Peering through the thick, heavy drapes she was hit with the bright-as-day lighting that was typical of the Vegas strip and was reminded of one of the reasons she hated the city. Her true relationship with the city was much too tumultuous as to be summed up with one simple four-letter word.
Sitting on the edge of her bed, Emily rubbed a hand over her face, thinking back on the last time she had been in the city.
2 years before – Las Vegas
Child abduction cases were always hard, and it was difficult to predict how they would affect the team. Though the case itself hadn't been any worse than any other, the toll it seemed to take on Reid had worn them all down.
While he chose to spend the last night with his mother, the rest of them had gone out to a Japanese restaurant and enjoyed themselves. She could still kill Rossi every time he even mentioned taking her out for sake. She'd felt comfortable with the team, and they were in Vegas, for crying out loud, she needed to live a little. Thoughts of Ian Doyle were far from her mind.
She'd had a bit too much to drink. Rossi had been the gentleman and walked her back to her room when the rest of the team decided to call it a night. She'd tried to convince him that she was fine. She'd tried to get him to go out clubbing with her – which should have been a testament to just how far gone she was – but he'd laughed off her every attempt and told her to go to bed.
She'd paced in her room for a full twenty minutes, itching with energy, before she'd decided to go out.
Onyx had only been a block away from their hotel. The atmosphere was nothing like any of the places her colleagues would come looking for her in. It was much more reminiscent of the places she had hung out at in college. Much more gothic, with perhaps a touch of steampunk. Cruxshadows had been blaring on the sound system, and Emily didn't think she'd seen so many corsets since she'd graduated. It had been just what she was looking for.
She'd stuck out in that crowd from the very beginning. At first she'd thought it was because of her attire. It wasn't until later that she would find out it was for much more integral reasons. Several heads had turned as she'd approached the bar. The attractive brunette leaning over the bar with a wine glass in hand had cocked an eyebrow and followed her every move.
Prentiss didn't need to be trained as a profiler in order to pick up on the vibes that the brunette had been broadcasting. Relationships were not something that the BAU allowed a lot of. But if a relationship wasn't in store, a fling would suit her just fine. Tonight possibly more so than most. The case, the alcohol, the atmosphere of the club, it was all culminating in some built up tension that Emily desperately wanted, needed to release.
The way the woman leaned across the bar had a natural smoothness to it that Emily had never seen before. The woman was way too comfortable there; the lighting, the music, the very air of the place seemed to be a part of her. She watched as the woman gave her a total once-over – looked her completely up, then back down – while taking a long, slow draw from her wine glass.
Emily felt uneasy under the woman's gaze. It wasn't often that a person's gaze could make the hair on the back of her neck stand on end, but this woman seemed to accomplish it with an ease that was unnatural. Regardless, Emily continued on her path until it stopped right in front of where the woman leaned across the bar.
"What can I get for you?" the woman asked with a distinctly French lilt to her voice.
Emily graced the woman with the same type of examination the woman had given her, before looping her fingers around the woman's wine glass. "I think I'll have what you're having."
She lifted the glass, bringing it up to her own lips before the woman placed her hand over the brim. "You might want to be careful before you bite off more than you can chew. It's a bit stronger and a lot more potent than your normal drink."
Emily licked her lips. "I can handle it. And I never bite off more than I can chew."
The woman's smirk brightened up her face and her eyes twinkled in a way that make a small shiver run up Emily's spine. "Of that I have no doubt."
Present Day – Las Vegas
Emily finished getting dressed and left her hotel room. Onyx was only a few blocks away, and the last she'd heard, Jeanette was still in Las Vegas. They'd kept in touch infrequently over the past two years, Jeanette helping her with the transition before she'd met Natalie. Emily often found it funny how small the world truly was.
It was funny how weird and intertwined all of their lives were. How the simplest little thing could have them all come crashing back in on each other all over again.
She marveled over it all as she walked through the bright streets of the city. Onyx was several blocks off the strip, but that didn't mean the neon lights weren't bright as day and the city wouldn't be just as bustling – possibly even more so – at 3am as it would be at 3pm.
As far as Emily had known, Lauren Reynolds had been long dead when she'd first come to the BAU. It had never occurred to her that her past would come back to bite her in the ass.
The team had assumed that she'd sacrificed herself and run to protect them. They had no true idea of what she was capable of now, what she'd been capable of since that fated night in Vegas two years ago. They'd never once questioned the changes that she was sure some of them had noticed in her since then.
She'd become more sensitive to the sun. She'd started eating with the team a lot less. Her nights out drinking with the team had been much more interesting since the alcohol had little to no effect on her and she wound up being the one with all of the dirt on everyone.
Things between her and JJ had ended amicably before New Orleans so her tryst in Vegas had been equal to JJ starting something up with Will. She and Janette were both consenting adults. She just hadn't been one hundred percent sure of what she had been consenting to at the time.
Following Vegas, Janette had come back to Virginia for a while, helped her through the transition. The one person on the team who would have picked up on things the quickest was JJ – and she went into labor not long after they returned. Between the hospital stay and taking care of Henry, JJ had been so caught up with things that she'd hardly noticed if Emily was or wasn't there.
Stopping in front of the entrance to Onyx, Emily remembered her first time there. Smiling, Emily approached the bouncer. "It's good to see you again, Miklos."
He eyed her appreciatively. A brief look of surprise coming across his features before he smiled at her. "Heard you'd gone off the grid. Didn't expect to be seeing you again."
Emily shrugged. "For me, these parts are off the grid. At least, as far as the mundanes are concerned." Emily hated using science fiction terms to refer to others, but she needed a subtle way to get the point across while they were still on the street.
"She'll be pleasantly surprised to see you."
Emily shrugged and walked inside.
2 years ago – Las Vegas
Emily's head fell into the pillow beneath her, back arching as she breathed in. As an FBI agent she was supposed to be professional, supposed to be much more conservative. The woman's head and the long brunette curls currently making their way down her stomach and between her legs were far from the perfect FBI mold.
Her nerves were abuzz, between the alcohol and the sex, she wasn't sure how much more she could take. Her brain felt clouded, her senses dulled; she wanted them to be at their best right now.
"You're sure?" Janette's lilting voice, her lips against Emily's inner thigh, drove a shiver up her spine and forced a groan from her throat.
"Definitely." Emily's eyes fluttered closed as she prepared for the sting, though the way she felt at that moment she was prepared for just about anything Janette was willing to give.
Present Day – Las Vegas
"Well, well, well. Look what the cat dragged in." The woman behind the bar looked her up and down. "You look like hell, especially for a ghost."
Emily stepped up to the bar and accepted the offered glass. "Thanks, Briana, you have no idea how badly I need this."
Emily savored the first sip, letting the thick fluid roll across her tongue before it slipped effortlessly down her throat. B Negative, her favorite. The smell of lilac and lavender assuaged her senses. The taste of vanilla accompanied flashes of memories, people, places, things she'd never done, through her mind as she swallowed. "Is she in?"
Briana rolled her eyes. "She's brooding in the back. You know the way."
She downed the rest of the glass and headed toward the back of the club and the living quarters that lay beyond the curtains. Janette was draped across an elegant Louis XV chaise, a vintage bottle of blood sitting on the floor beside her.
Emily stepped further into the room.
"Brooding is very much not your style."
Janette's head came up, her eyes focused in on Emily as she rose. "It was once said I was too provincial to brood."
Emily snorted, "I never knew you needed to be of a certain social class in order to brood. But whoever said you were too provincial obviously didn't know you very well." She watched as Janette warily looked her over. "And I'm assuming he, or she, didn't live long enough to regret their loss."
Janette sipped from the glass that had been resting on a small table on the opposite side of the chaise. "No, he didn't, actually."
Silence filled the room for a moment. Emily took the opportunity to move closer to the chaise, approaching Janette as though she were a caged animal and could pounce at any moment. She unzipped the light jacket she'd worn and slipped it down her arms.
"Natalie called the other day."
Emily grimaced slightly. She'd assumed Natalie, and through her, Janette, would have heard much sooner than this. Her 'death' was several weeks old already. She'd busied herself around Europe for a while; done some things that she'd wanted to revisit since her childhood. Just long enough to make sure that Ian was not on her tail, and that he'd believed that she had died.
Her entire team thought she was dead.
Well, almost her entire team.
She was fairly certain that Hotch knew the truth, though JJ had never officially confirmed or denied anything where he was concerned. JJ knew the truth. JJ had helped to set her up with her new identity—or identities actually. Three passports, three countries, and three bank accounts to go along with them all. It was all very Celtic actually, and Ian would have appreciated that. But she was beyond that now.
She had blown through those three countries, emptying the accounts and tossing the documents as she left. In an odd twist of fate, she had come to realize that when it came to certain aspects of her past, her profession couldn't protect her.
Neither could any other mere mortal.
She could have sought out the community in any number of countries and gone from there, but there was a pull that brought her back to the States, a connection that brought her back to Vegas – to Janette – for help in truly disappearing. But not just for her.
"Natalie said you'd been staked. I'd say you look pretty good for a dead immortal." Janette's speech was almost slurred, lazy.
"Well, luckily for me, the guy didn't know what he was doing. He thought he was dealing with a mortal." She smiled grimly, "Knowing Ian the way that I do he might believe in banshees and leprechauns, but I seriously doubt he even considers the possibility that vampires are real."
Janette downed what was left in the glass. She swung her legs down and sat up slowly. "I've heard it said that every time a vampire says that they don't believe in lycanthropes that a werewolf bursts into flames."
Emily mulled over that point, wondering just what the hell Janette was talking about. She shifted forward a few feet, bridging the distance between where she stood and the chaise on the floor. "You're officially flagged." She picked the bottle up, the aroma of the blood tickling her senses. She rarely indulged, only when she needed to, and the glass earlier at the bar had satiated her need, but it had also intensified her desire for more. She licked her lips and swallowed carefully, trying to push the urge down.
"Why is it that I always pick the ones with a guilt complex?" Janette studied her. The proximity and intensity of her stare putting Emily on edge. "You'd think I'd learn."
Emily turned, sitting on the edge of the chaise next to Janette. "I can't give in to it. I can't take the chance of what might happen if I'm at a crime scene. I won't let myself lose control. I can't allow it to happen."
Janette leaned over, her long fingernail tracing a path along Emily's jaw. "But you're not at the BAU anymore, mon amour." Janette's finger stopped at Emily's chin and turned her head to face her, "Your mortal life is over. Again. You should embrace it. Enjoy it."
Emily placed the bottle down on the table behind them. "There are people within the FBI who know my death was faked. They got me the start to my new life, but I don't trust the government to completely wipe away the evidence of my trail. Or anyone else's from the man that's after me."
Janette moved an inch closer, drawing Emily's face closer to her own. "But as far as he's concerned, you're dead." Their lips touched and Emily found herself drawn into the kiss. It was brief, but enough to reignite the urges that she'd squelched earlier. "He won't be after you anymore."
"True. But he will be after the person I was trying to protect in the first place."
8 years ago – Boston
"Well, what name do you want?"
"I don't want a new name. I like my name." Declan flopped on the couch next to her and Emily wanted to scream. How was she supposed to get this through to him? "Why can't I be Declan anymore, Laura?"
Emily ran a hand across her face, wondering if she would have understood, or even been as agreeable as Declan had, if her life had been completely uprooted – and her mother moving the family to Italy didn't count in this instance. "It's not safe anymore. Your father had explained about the bad men that might be after you at some point. I'm only trying to protect you. Keep you safe."
Declan launched himself at her and awkwardly hugged her around the neck. "I know I'm safe with you, Laura."
Emily hugged him back as tight as she dared. She hated the fact that she couldn't hold onto him even longer. But it would never work, and it would be far too dangerous for both of them.
"So trust me to keep you safe when you're not with me, Declan. It's all I can do to protect you."
Declan's arms tightened around her neck for a minute before he pulled back. "You think I look like a Zach?"
Emily smiled and rustled his blonde curls through her fingers. "I think you will make a fine Zach."
Present Day – Las Vegas
Janette traced a finger down Emily's chest, gliding over the place where Ian had branded her. "Attachments to the mortal world will haunt you for eternity if you let it."
Emily sighed. "His life is in danger because of me."
"Do you really think his father would kill him?"
She stared at the ceiling, trying to find the answer to that question. "Declan meant the world to Ian. So much that no one knew he was the boy's father. I'd like to think that more than anything he just wants to get him back. But I can't allow even that to happen." Emily huffed out a sigh and rolled over to face Janette in the bed.
"Eight years has gone by. He's not a little boy anymore. The last thing that the young man he's become needs is to have his father thrust back into his life. Right now he has all the options in the world. If Ian gets his hands on him, there's no telling what could happen. He could just want him to be the next best criminal mastermind. Or he could feel that Declan betrayed him by going with me and want the boy dead, now that he knows he wasn't killed eight years ago like he'd thought."
Emily watched Janette mull over the information before she reached across and tucked a lock of Emily's hair behind her ear. "I'll have to make a few calls. The best in the business is Larry Merlin. He can find and hide anyone you want better than any other – mortal and immortal combined."
"Excellent. Sounds like he's just what I'm looking for." Emily rolled onto her back while Janette got out of the bed.
Janette took a sip from her glass, walking over to the balcony. "Natalie thinks that you're dead." Janette turned to look at Emily. "Really dead."
Emily stood, put on a robe and strode to the balcony. She stared out over the city for a few moments and then turned from the balcony, her back leaning up against the railing as the city below became completely alive for the evening. "I'll be able to tell her soon. Right now I can't take the risk of contacting her."
Janette grimaced. "You never would have run like this from anyone else, would you?"
Emily's spine straightened, she hated being called on her actions. "Anyone else is not Ian Doyle."
She watched as Janette's hands visibly clenched into fists. "Even after all I've done. Even after all I've given you, this man can have this control over you? This puny, mortal, man?"
Emily swallowed carefully, trying to calm herself. "It's not that simple."
Janette threw her wine glass against the wall, shattering it into pieces. "That's the whole point though, Emily. It is that simple. All you have to do is kill him."
Emily gripped her wineglass to the point where the stem snapped and it fell to her feet. "You think I don't want it to be simple? You think I wanted to give up my life? Even if only temporarily?" She shook her head. "I'm not you, Jeanette. I don't just go around killing people just because that's the easy way to deal with things."
Janette fumed; her anger clearly apparent. "It seems to me that killing him is not just the easy way to deal with this man. It's the only way to deal with him."
Emily sighed. Her energy level waned as she watched the small bead of blood pool on her fingertip where the glass had sliced her skin. "I'm starting to fear you may be correct."
Janette leaned into the booth, her wine glass sitting in front of her, untouched. The crimson liquid wasn't quite to her liking. Its rich flavor didn't have the same effect on her palate as the type O negative that she preferred.
She watched as Ian Doyle slammed back another shot of Jamesons and looked across the bar. The community had easily ferreted out the location of Zachary and Isabelle Wilkins, formery Declan Doyle and his live-in help. Apparently, government workers and officials were not only prone to a good dose of mesmerization, they could also be plied with cold, hard cash.
It was obvious to Janette that Ian Doyle's only concern was retrieving his son. Nothing else mattered to him and she pitied anyone or anything that chose to get in his way. Well, almost anyone.
The shot glass made a nice cling as it connected with the bar and Ian smiled as he watched Isabelle leave the apartment building across the street. His eyes followed her and it became inherently clear to Janette that Ian was stalking his prey.
Ian signaled for the bartender to prepare him another shot while he watched Isabelle walk up the block. Now that he'd spotted his prey she was sure it was just a matter of him biding his time. He slammed back the shot and leaned back in his chair. As if he could tell it was all coming together.
Janette smiled before downing what remained in her glass. Indeed it was all coming together.
Janette stood in the shadows, her back against the wall of the alley. Emily had gone off to scout out the area before she calculated her approach of the Wilkins' apartment. Janette hadn't mentioned her side project, but raised no objections when Emily decided to do the scout on her own. Janette knew the lay of the land by heart already, and she also had her senses finely tuned to Ian Doyle.
If she concentrated she could even feel the beating of his heart, the slow steady tempo building the hunger within her. It had been a while since she wanted to taste someone's blood as much as she wanted his. All she'd been able to think about for the last few days had been draining him dry. The tinge of Jameson's giving the blood a slight bitter taste. She'd thought of it so much she could already feel his heart slowing before she'd sunk her teeth into the tender flesh of his neck.
The anticipation of that moment was getting her punch drunk.
She would never again allow this man to exert his control over Emily or any other woman.
Janette felt the spark of recognition as soon as it trickled across his nervous system and she knew that the time was right. He had seen Emily, knew that somehow she had managed to escape death once again, and was ready to act.
There was no thought of hesitation on Janette's part. She was on him before he had a second to consider further action, her teeth sinking into the soft flesh above his jugular with ease.
Ian struggled against her for an instant before he went limp, his energy being drained just as swiftly as his blood. The scent of clover filled her senses as scenes from Ian's past flowed through her mind.
Declan running around an expansive estate in Boston as a child.
The feel of Emily's hair in his hand as he possessed her lips in a bruising kiss.
Emily lying naked in bed beside him.
The buttons of Emily's shirt coming undone as he prepared to brand her.
The rage, disbelief and utter grief running through him at the sight of Declan and his nanny lying shot dead in an alley.
The feeling of Emily's warm, sticky blood running through his fingers after he had stabbed her through the stomach with the wooden stake, the look of shock on her face before her muscles went slack and the light faded from her eyes. The weight of her above him before he'd shoved her aside and fled from the scene.
Janette felt his heart slowing, felt the flow of blood ease till there was almost nothing left. She released him from her grip and allowed his body to sink to the ground. The knife had been easily concealed in the folds of her clothing. If the years and having an affinity for those in law enforcement had taught her anything, it was that the best way to mask her deeds was to throw suspicion back to the mortal world.
The knife sliced through the skin of his neck with ease, the cut deeper and wider around his jugular, ensuring that the artery was completely severed. Any trace of her teeth marks would be masked by the slice, any anomaly discovered by the coroner would be brushed off as hesitation marks or some other such excuse.
Janette licked her lips; easily removing the last traces of her feeding.
Zachary Wilkins slumped onto the couch while Isabella Wilkins dropped the cup of coffee that she'd been holding.
Emily grabbed paper towels off of the modest table in the middle of the kitchen and helped Isabella wipe up the floor.
"I'm sorry to show up unannounced like this."
She could feel Zachary's eyes bore into her.
"It's about my Dad, isn't it?"
The look in his eyes made her heart sink; she could tell that he'd been waiting for this moment since their last meeting. It was like he'd always known that there was nothing that could be done to protect him from his father. Eventually he knew he'd be found.
"You might as well call me Declan."
Emily sighed, "I hate having to be the one to tell you this…."
Janette's hand on her arm broke her train of thought. "We're terribly sorry, Zachary, but your father was found dead this afternoon."
Emily felt the blood drain from her face as she watched the look of relief pass over Zachary's face.
"How did he die?"
Emily heard Janette reply, listened to the explanation of 'all that they knew so far' and felt like she was completely and totally numb. For years she had thought she'd put away everything having to do with Ian Doyle. Locked it in the corner of herself that no one but she knew about. Completely compartmentalized.
Now, it seemed as though everything was crashing together and she wasn't sure how to keep it all separate.
Zachary gave her a quick hug before they left. "Thanks for coming to tell me yourself."
Emily swallowed and gave him a sad smile, "I couldn't let anyone else do it."
Las Vegas, Nevada
Emily felt like she was on autopilot. Her body moved like it was expected to with no real thought on her part.
She took the seat at the bar that Janette led her to, barely taking notice of the fact that the place was empty.
A glass was placed in front of her and she gulped down its contents.
Images, scents, sensations filled her and she couldn't stop the flow of her own emotions from taking control.
"You killed him."
Janette sipped from her glass and cocked her eyebrow. "Yes."
Emily shook her head. "You had no reason to want him dead. Why would you kill him?"
Janette smiled, but it wasn't a friendly smile. "My dear, Emily, last I checked I needed no other reason to kill someone other than the fact that I can. As far as I was concerned that pathetic man needed to give me more reason as to why he should live. And he couldn't." She sipped from her glass before placing it down on the bar. "Besides, once he'd realized who you were there was really no other alternative."
She took a slow look around the bar before meeting Emily's gaze. "It's been a long night. I'm going to bed. Join me if you like."
Emily filled her glass to the brim and watched as Janette left the room. She wanted to call JJ. She wanted to reach out to her old life in some way. She wanted to get back to it as quickly as she could, but she needed to be patient or it would be suspicious.
She downed what was left in her glass and went to bed.
The shrill ring of her track phone woke her. Janette's head was settled deep into the pillow next to her.
"Yes?" Emily's voice was filled with sleep.
The voice sounded like JJ, but she couldn't be sure. It might have been her imagination, her desire to have someone know that there was no reason for her to have to be on the run anymore. To have someone tell her she could finally go home.
"Sorry, wrong number."
"Is Lauren Reynolds there, then? This is her friend, Jennifer."
Emily sat up, breathing a sigh of relief as she moved. "JJ?"
"It's over, Emily. You can come home."
Emily wasn't sure how the rest of the team would react to her sudden return; JJ was more concerned about how the news would affect her. She didn't want to go over the details of the case with her yet, but it seemed to be an encounter with some of the unsavory aspects of Henderson, Nevada.
When Emily hung up, she closed her eyes and wondered what would happen next. JJ had promised to contact her again when things were in order. How the team and everyone would react to this would determine everything. Even when the option was there for her, Emily was not the kind of person who would walk away from it all.
The one person Emily was most dreading was Garcia. Especially after the message she had left on Emily's cell. She was going to flip when she heard that Emily had never 'died'.
Sliding back under the covers Emily rolled onto her side, jumping a bit when Janette's arm worked its way over Emily's stomach.
"Will you be leaving again soon to return to your other life?"
Emily bit her lip, wanting to throttle Janette for interfering and hug her for helping at the same time. There were times she wondered how she had managed to fall into this odd tête-à-tête and then there were the times that she wondered how she'd ever managed to live her life without it.
Her hand reached Janette's, their fingers intertwining. "Soon, but not yet."
Emily rolled over to face Janette, keeping their fingers interlocked the whole time. "There's nothing to say that you couldn't visit me for a few nights every now and then."