Title: Never Too Late
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 20 December 2011
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Pairing: Jennifer Jareau/Emily Prentiss
Rating: R Sexual Situations involving women
Word Count: 8483
Summary: AU: Being dead really makes Emily think about what her life was missing.
Spoilers: Some spoilers from Season 5, 6 & 7. Most are of General knowledge regarding the leaving and returning of the characters Jennifer Jareau and Emily Prentiss.
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Disclaimer: "Criminal Minds", the characters, and situations depicted are the property of CBS Productions, Touchstone Television, The Mark Gordon Company, and ABC Studios. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes. Previously unrecognized characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. This site is in no way affiliated with "Criminal Minds", CBS, or any representative of the actors.
Author's Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, if I did I this is what would have happened when Prentiss returned to the show. They are owned by CBS Corp. No profit is being made with this story.
Author's Notes: Canon is not my specialty so I play fast and loose with the actual facts of the show and move and change them as I need to. If who said what doesn't fit my tale...well I just change it. It's why they call it fiction folks. I know roughly what seasons I'm in but actual episodes...not so much. I know some would prefer I stick to details and actual show canon but if I did that, Emily and JJ would not be even having these conversations or interactions at all so there would be no story to write. Where's the fun in that?
Never Too Late
Jennifer JJ Jereau and Emily Prentiss had been seeing each other on the sly for some time. No one was aware of their relationship even though most had always suspected there was something going on between the blonde agent and her older counterpart at the BAU.
Because of JJ's relationship with Will LaMontagne, most of the time they had together had been hurried clandestine encounters, sometimes after work in JJ's office, when the need to be together made it just too hard to wait.
The affair started last year after Haley Hotchner, Hotch's wife, was murdered by George Foyet, and the team was sent out on a case in Nashville, Tennessee directly following the funeral. Bonded by their shared grief for Hotch's loss as well as the realization that any one of them could be taken just as quickly by death, made Emily begin to feel she had to tell JJ about her true feelings for her. Well aware that JJ was in a relationship with Will and had a son made it more difficult but an overwhelming feeling of doom and the possibility of living forever with the pain of a path not taken compelled her to pull JJ aside and throw all caution to the wind.
Over a year ago - Nashville, TN
Emily sat on the BAU jet listening with only half of her attention to the case file. It seemed to be just another day for the BAU, personal matters and private lives put on hold at a moment's notice to go chase another deranged individual. But for all the normalcy of the moment, so much was abnormal; the expected picture of a team working together was off somehow.
The most obvious difference was that they were all dressed in black. Each of them still wearing the clothes they wore to Haley's funeral, the dirt from the graveside still embedded in the soles of their shoes. The other obviously glaring difference was the absence of Hotch, their leader, their friend, left behind to deal with his pain and grief alone.
Prentiss felt a deep guilt over that one fact. It wasn't her choice, it wasn't what any of them would have chosen to do to their comrade and friend but Strauss refused to send another team. She claimed no other team was available to take the case in Tennessee but Emily doubted the truth of that. The FBI had other BAU teams they could use. They could pull one from another state if necessary, but Strauss had it in for Hotch and the team from the very start. Emily was sure this was just another way to make them function without Hotch, make then think they didn't need him. That woman would never see that they were more than a team, they were a family, and families stood together no matter what.
Emily glanced around at the team. All of them listening, profiling the latest case but a part of them still back home with Hotch. She could see it in their eyes, the way they were slightly out of focus and dull. She supposed she had the same expression on her face. Emily stole a peek at JJ; the stunning blonde was pale, slight dark circles under her blue eyes from lack of sleep and from hours of weeping. All Emily wanted to do was pull her into her arms and comfort her anyway she could. She knew JJ was thinking of her son. Wondering what if it was Henry instead of Jack trying to understand the loss of his mother? Even though her job as Liaison should rarely put her in harm's way, her increased participation with the team changed those odds. The more she was in the field with them, actively working cases, each time she went out with them, each time she drew her weapon, she raised the odds of her son being an orphan.
Emily stared at her and wondered if she ever thinks that she would be leaving Will to raise Henry alone and if that frightened her as much. The blonde hardly ever talked about her relationship with the odd man from New Orleans, and for as much as Emily knew about JJ's life, all of the everyday wonders she shared with her about Henry, she knew so little of her life with Will.
"Does she even love him?" Emily wonders. "They are so different, worlds apart, sharing nothing really but Henry. Or is that just wishful thinking on my part?"
From the first moment Emily laid eyes on JJ she was smitten. Even now she would blush as she thought of that brief moment when she stood in Hotch's office and the door had opened. She turned, distracted by Hotch saying she was mistaken, there was no job for her there, and looked to see who had interrupted and was floored by the vision standing in the doorway.
"Those blue eyes, as clear and bright as the sea." Emily thinks to herself. "That golden hair, gleaming and sparkling from the overhead lights...those legs!" She had greedily and quickly scanned down the woman's body, trying not to audibly gasp. Her first coherent thought when she saw Jennifer Jereau was, “Wow!" When JJ smiled; so open and welcoming, Emily's heart hit her stomach and her next thought was "Oh, I am so gonna like working here!"
Her attraction was so obvious Ray Charles could have seen it as she followed her like a puppy when she led her to her work station. She had been a goner from that moment on. The deepest crush she had ever had on anyone even as a teenager. She became the number one JJ fan in the BAU, and knowing how the entire team felt about this amazing woman was really saying something.
By the end of her three month probation, Emily was hopelessly in love, ready to fight for her, die for her if necessary. The confirmed anti-commitment woman was ready to fall on bended knee and declare love everlasting. Only problem was she had never gotten the nerve to let JJ know. She just kept telling herself, "soon...I'll tell her soon." Then it was too late, time had run out on her and JJ had moved on, in a way Emily had never foreseen, so lost in her fantasy of JJ.
Emily's eyes welled with the tears she had been shedding for the past four years over that lost chance. She felt a hand take hers and a gentle squeeze. Startled from her musings, Emily looked up to see JJ smiling so tenderly at her, squeezing her hand in comfort, assuming the tears were for Hotch.
"You okay, Em?" she asked softly.
Emily melted as she looked into her kind eyes, quickly wiping her cheeks. Squeezing her hand back she nodded, "Fine. Thanks."
JJ gave her hand one more warm squeeze then let go, returning her attention to Rossi.
The case in Nashville was as disturbing as any they had encountered. An unsub who 'romanced' his victims, expecting them to play along and act as if they were lovers when he raped them, eventually killing them when the fantasy for him ended.
For some reason that Emily couldn't explain, the case got to her, pushed her buttons hard. When they apprehended the unsub, Joe Besler and Emily basically had him in custody, she grabbed him by the throat, stuck her weapon in his face, hoping her gave her just one reason to shoot him between the eyes.
JJ was concerned for Emily. She rarely lost her control like that, the queen of compartmentalizing. Either Hotch's tragedy was hitting her harder than JJ thought or something else was going on with her friend.
It was late once they tied up all the loose ends and the team decided to stay over one more night in Nashville. JJ pulled Emily aside as they headed back to the hotel.
"Wanna get a drink before we turn in? Looks to me like you could use it."
"Yeah, that would be great. A burger wouldn't hurt either." Emily added with a smile.
They stopped in the hotel bar but it was so crowded they would have to holler to be heard above the din. "Ya know what Jay?" Emily said, pulling JJ closer to her to be heard over the crowd. "Maybe I'll just pass; too much noise for me right now."
JJ took her arm and led her from the bar, "C'mon, I have an idea."
Outside JJ's room, Emily paused sneaking a look out of the corner of her eye at JJ. A drink was not was she really needed, the blonde standing next to her was, but that wasn't an option any longer, if it ever was.
"So what's the plan Jay? It's getting kinda late and we should get some rest."
"Room service for the burgers, honor bar for the drinks." JJ replied as she stepped into the room and immediately picked up the phone to dial room service.
"Yeah. Hi. Two cheeseburgers, one medium, one well done. Onions?" She turned to Emily, "Onions?" Emily nodded yes, shook her head no, then shrugged. JJ laughed, "Onions on the side please."
JJ handed Emily a beer while they waited for the food and sat on the edge of the bed.
"So...feel like sharing?"
Emily glanced at the beer, then held the can out to JJ, "Sure, but I'll be happy to pick up the bar tab if you want your own."
Laughing, JJ took the can and took a sip before handing it back.
"I meant feelings, emotions, not your beer, but thanks. Glad to see you don't think I have cooties."
Emily frowned and tilted her head to the right, "Excuse me? Cooties?"
Rolling her eyes, JJ blushed. "Umm...ok so I don't have that many adult conversations outside of work."
Looking at JJ with a small smile, Emily couldn't think of anything on this planet that was more beautiful than a blushing Jennifer Jereau. "You are so pretty when you blush."
JJ glanced up and blushed a deeper crimson when their eyes met.
Realizing what she had said, Emily took a big gulp of her beer and quickly tried to get back to the original subject.
"So…sharing; anything in particular you want to know or are we talking just random thoughts and tidbits about me?"
"Actually, I was referring to your 'non-Emily' type reaction to this case." Explained JJ as she busied herself getting her own beer from the fridge. "Usually, you're the cool one who can compartmentalize all your feelings and emotions. So what happened today?"
Emily shrugged, "I really don't know. All I know is I’d suddenly had enough.” Emily sighed and shook her head. "It was only partly him. He's just the embodiment of the male society...no, that's not right. Not so much male society as anyone with any degree of power, real or imagined. They see something they want. Something they think they are entitled to and just take it. Who cares what you want, if you want them to have what is yours. They want it so they take it.”
“So what else is new Em? You can either roll over and take it or you can fight back. Now the Emily Prentiss I’ve always known would say fuck you and fight back. Am I wrong?”
Emily grunted and took a long draw from her beer, “No you're not wrong but when I do then I’m queen bitch.”
JJ laughed and squeezed Emily’s hand, “Better a queen bitch then a doormat I always say.”
There was a knock at the door and JJ unfolded from the bed and headed to the door, looking through the peephole. JJ looked back with a sweet grin, “Room service!”
Emily watched her every move with an almost dream like stare as she opened the door, smiled at the porter and stepped back so he could push in the service cart. When he was finished setting up the meal he handed JJ the bill to sign and Emily reached and took it from her.
“Dinner’s on me. I’ll sign it to my room.”
Emily scribbled her name and room number adding a generous tip and handed it back. “Why bother trying to explain why you ordered two dinners on your expense account.”
“My hero, standing up for my reputation.” JJ said with a grin.
Emily did a dramatic bow, “Always M’lady.”
JJ raised her eyebrow but smiled brightly at her and Emily turned a bright red.
“Your burger’s gonna get cold.” Emily said and started fussing with the food and moving JJ’s plate so she could reach it while they sat and talked.
Emily watched JJ make her burger like she was the architect for the Taj Mahal, in her eyes every simple movement full of grace and poetry. She almost laughed out loud at herself when she realized how love struck she must seem when JJ skipping over the plate of onions made her heart skip a beat. "Bad as a school girl around her teen idol. Get a hold of yourself woman."
They ate their meal while chatting about nothing of any importance; fashion, shoes, Emily's latest boots purchase, staying away from the grim and grisly topics they have to deal with on a daily basis.
"How's my little man doing?" Emily asked biting into a fry dripping with ketchup.
"Henry? Henry is perfect as always. He's growing up so fast I swear every time I see him he looks bigger."
"I hear that's how it works with these mini people. Once you pop 'em out they sort of just keep sprouting up." Emily remarked with all seriousness until JJ looked at her then she laughed.
"Pop them out? Such class Prentiss."
"Finishing School. We had daily lessons just in class."
"Missed a few days huh?"
Emily stuck her tongue out at JJ who shoved her on the shoulder knocking her back onto the bed.
"Careful Jareau...I learned to handle girls like you in the academies of France when I was a child." Emily joked her chocolate brown eyes almost twinkling with mirth.
"Big deal! I'm from Pennsylvania, we didn't handle, we kicked ass!" JJ exclaimed as she leapt on Prentiss and started to tickle her.
Caught by surprise Emily at first didn't know what to do until the tickles hit, then she was laughing and screaming for mercy. "No! Stop! Please I hate being tickled! Help!"
"Who's gonna help you Ms. French Finishing School? You're mine...All mine! BWAHAHAHA!"
JJ threw her leg over Emily's waist to pin her wiggling body down and tickled her mercilessly. "You are mine now! And you will laugh until the anger is gone!" JJ was laughing almost hysterically at having the cool, always in control Prentiss at such a disadvantage.
"Nooooo! Nooohoooo stooooppppp! I give! I give!" Tears were streaming down Emily's face as she howled with laughter trying to fight JJ off.
"Say it! Say it and I'll let you go!"
"SAY WHAT? ANYTHING! JUST STOP I"M BEGGING YOU!"
"Say I own you.."
"Ok, Ok. You own me! You own me! Now please just stop!"
Panting and laughing so hard she had tears running down her cheeks as well, JJ simply collapsed on top of Emily, who was almost hyperventilating. "You are a cruel woman Jennifer Jareau...just cruel!"
"Maybe." JJ paused for a breath, still giggling a little. "But I always get what I want." She looked down at the dark haired woman who she had called her friend for so many years and smiled at the face she saw every night in her dreams. "And now I own you. Am I lucky or what?" JJ said in a softer, quieter voice.
Emily's skin broke out in goose bumps as she looked up into those eyes of sapphire. She had dreamed of looking at JJ from this position for so long, it almost seemed natural for her to be lying half on her and looking down at her in bed. With a life and a mind of its own, her left arm snuck out from under JJ's body and wrapped itself around her waist as casual as could be as she smiled up at her blonde Goddess.
"And just why would you want to own me? I'm not exactly young, though not near my 'sell by date' yet either. But there are some scars and bruising on this old carcass." Emily gave a self depreciating laugh, mentally kicking herself even as she did it.
"Who wouldn't want to own a genuine Emily Prentiss? You've been on my wish list forever!"
Emily wasn't sure if JJ was still joking or if she was serious so for once she decided to just shut up and let the moment decide what happens next.
At first nothing happened. They just seemed to lie there as if froze in time, staring into each other's eyes with slightly different degrees of curiosity. Then JJ reached up and stroked Emily's face gently. As gentle as the wings of a butterfly her fingertips traced the curves and planes of Emily's cheeks, jaw, brow then lips. "I've always thought you were the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen." JJ whispered, her eyes following the path of her fingertips.
"No. That would be you Jennifer."
JJ's eyes shifted to meet Emily's and she smiled. A smile filled with longing, pain, desire and acceptance. Emily felt her body shift as she prepared to move away and her arm instinctively tightened around her waist.
"JJ, I have to tell you something. Something I've been wanting to tell you for years now and have just been too much of a coward."
JJ just continued to stare into her eyes, waiting patiently for her to continue.
Emily took a deep breath, gathered up all the courage she had deep inside of her that she used to fight the unsubs and serial killers every day and opened her mouth.
"I. I love you Jennifer Jareau." There, She had said it. It was out in the universe. "I love you. I've loved you for years and I wish I had told you before...but that doesn't matter. I'm telling you now. I love you."
JJ smiled. At first a small, sad smile then brighter as she said just 2 words back. "I know."
Emily gave her a surprised look then laughed, "Of course you do. And just how long have you know my little secret?"
"Oh, maybe three years." JJ rolled off of Emily and sat up on the edge of the bed and counted on her fingers then nodded, "Yeah, Five years that you liked me, three that you loved me."
Emily rolled her eyes and sat up shaking her head as she stood. "Three years!. That's priceless! Hell, I haven't even known for three years!"
"Well, that's why I never said anything. I figured I would let your brain catch up with your heart and then we could have the discussion." JJ picked up a fry off of her plate and bit into it then pointed it at Emily, "Though I must admit, you genius types move really slow when it comes to emotional matters."
"Seriously? Umm, one of us did manage to have a kid in that same time frame not making it easier for the other to confess feelings!"
"True." JJ nodded and popped the rest of her French Fry into her mouth and chewed slowly.
Emily was gearing up for a good argument but when JJ just simply stopped, she got confused and lost all momentum. "That's it? True. That's all you have to say?"
JJ nodded taking a sip from her soda. She picked up her napkin, wiped her mouth and hands and looked up at Emily. "It is true. And a fact I won't fight about, nor regret. Henry is the only good thing that's come out of any of this, and I love him. I suspect you love him too."
"He's another man's child."
"Could he ever be anything else?"
"You know what I mean."
"Yeah. I know what you mean and it doesn't really matter does it? You love Henry and have from the first moment you laid eyes on him, I told you that you suck at hiding your emotional side." JJ smiled up at her, "Luckily, Henry adores you as well, so no real conflict there, thank God."
"And his father?" Emily challenged, her confusion making her combative."
"A very nice man. But not a man I love, unfortunately."
Emily' jaw dropped open at this confession and she started to speak but just snapped her jaw shut. After a few moments she just shook her head, "Not a man you love. Could have fooled me. Do you even know what you want Jennifer?"
"What? What do you want?"
"I thought that was clear. You."
"Me? You want...but...when...why?" Emily floundered for understanding that her brain just couldn't grasp.
JJ smiled and reached out and took her hand as she stood, "How do you think I know how long you liked me? How long you've been in love with me? I've been right there with you the whole time too afraid to tell you."
Emily was too stunned, too confused by the turn of events to react. "I...I don't know what to say Jennifer."
"You don't have to say anything right now Emily. Let it settle, sleep on it if you want." JJ walked toward the hotel room door and turned to face Emily. "It's been a long case and a long night. You should go get some rest, let all of this just soak in and we'll talk about it when we get back to D.C."
Emily nodded, "I should go back to my room."
"Probably for the best." She turned to make the last few steps to the door to open it up for Emily.
Her dark brown eyes turning almost black, Emily rushed after JJ and just as she reached the door, swooped JJ into her arms and kissed her. Emily kissed her with every ounce of pent up desire she had been harboring these past years, pulling her tightly against her, as she pressed her lips firmly against JJ's. Her heart was beating so wildly she feared she would die right there of a heart attack.
The kiss was so passionate, JJ felt her knees go weak and she fell heavily into Emily's arms with a gasp. Emily slipped her tongue into her mouth, where it danced gently with hers as it explored. JJ broke the kiss, to pull in a ragged breath, then crushed her lips back to Emily's with a moan.
Emily's hands began to roam over her body, running up and down her sides and hips. Groaning against JJ's lips, "God...",
Emily turned their bodies, walking them backwards and the back of JJ's knees hit the mattress and she fell back. Both women froze for a moment, looking at each other, their breath coming in heated pants. JJ reached up and pulled Emily down and into her arms as she claimed her lips with a whimper of need.
Emily lay fully on JJ, placing her thigh between her legs as she kissed her. She applied light pressure at first, then the flames of desire took over and she pulled and tugged at JJ’s clothes.
Her frantic almost desperate grabs and grasps were the cumulative result of five plus years of fantasies and desires. So many times had she imagined this moment, that her mind didn’t know which particular fantasy she was about to play out or if she should abandon them all and just drown in the warm reality of the moment.
JJ was breathless from the kiss and her mind just wouldn’t allow her to think straight. She grabbed at Emily’s back, pulling her closer, tighter. She felt Emily's fingers slip between her damp curls and press against her clit and she gasped at the intense sensation, her hips rising up to capture the prize they had so long desired.
“Oh God Emily!”
Groaning at the feeling of slick, warm wetness, Emily slowly moved her fingers in a tight circle, light little flicks against the tight bundle of nerves, shivering at the sound of JJ’s gasp. Gently squeezing her clit between her two fingers, Emily moaned JJ’s name, kissing her again, moving down over her jaw, down her neck and lightly sucking at the point where her pulse throbbed wildly.
“My Lord. So wet. So wonderfully wet.” She murmured into her throat.
With agonizing slowness, her fingers moved down until they could slip with ease into her center. She stopped and just let herself feel the sensation of JJ's warm inner muscles pulling at her fingers. “JJ…” she breathlessly whimpered as she slowly started to move in and out.
JJ's body responded immediately, as she arched her hips upwards, her body tightening and pulling Emily further in as she started to pump against the invading digits with a sigh of pleasure.
Moving so her thigh was positioned against the back of her hand, Emily began to grind and undulate against JJ. Her thigh adding the extra weight and pressure to her hand's movements as she began to make love to JJ, the space tight and constricted by the pants that kept her from fully spreading her legs and taking Emily in. Emily pressed the tips of her fingers into the side walls inside of JJ, scissoring them open and closed as she moved in and out, her breathing becoming fast and harsh.
“So perfect. You feel so perfect. Like I always dreamed you’d feel.”
Even though her mind was whirling out of control and her heart felt like it was about to explode out of her chest, Emily never changed her rhythm. In and out, in and press, in and out. Her fingers found the soft spot that would send JJ to the edge and push her over. With a light touch, she let the tip of her finger graze against it, as goose bumps rose on her body every time JJ moaned.
Moving in tandem with every stroke, JJ felt her body melting into Emily’s touch. Her moans were becoming louder as her body got closer to exploding. Their bodies were pressed tightly together as they snaked and writhed with Emily’s movements.
“So long…wanted this for so long.” JJ mumbled into Emily’s shoulder.
It hit her suddenly; her eyes grew wide, her mouth parted as she panted. JJ’s body began to tighten as she arched her back, hands grabbing for, finding and digging into Emily’s back. No matter how hard she tried to maintain the slow and precise movements, her body took over and began to buck wildly, her hips and pelvis smashing against Emily’s as she rushed to the edge and was thrown into the blistering whiteness of her orgasm.
“Oh my God! Oh my God! Emily…Em…EMILY!” JJ screamed out as she rose off of the bed, her thighs tightening and squeezing shut, trapping Emily within her.
Emily held on tight, one arm wrapped around JJ’s waist as she rode out her orgasm. “Perfect…” was all she hissed as she captured JJ’s lips in a searing kiss.
Six Months later - Paris, France
JJ watched Emily as she walked away into the crowded French pavilion and wondered if she would ever see her again. A love affair so recently begun couldn't so tragically end, could it?
Emily reached her hotel before she opened the package JJ had given her. She had been successful in holding back her tears as she walked away without looking back but now that she was in the relative safety of her hotel room she let the tears flow freely.
"Oh JJ, how did we come to this?" Emily sniffed wiping her nose on the sleeve of her shirt. "We never had a fair shot at it...and it's all my stupid fault. If I had told you sooner...if I hadn't gotten angry...so many ifs."
Emily dumped the envelope onto the desk and began to look at the documents the Department of Justice had put together for building her new identity overseas. There was three different passports with different names, bank accounts in different countries with enough money to keep her quite comfortable and without the need for a job. There was even a wad of Euros for pocket money until she could reach one of the branches of the three banks. "So thoughtful." Emily mumbled to herself as she tossed the documents and cash aside.
Emily sat and stared out her window at the Champs Elysees, not seeing the world famous avenue nor it's shops and cinemas and cafes. All she could see was JJ as she had left her, sitting at the table of that little coffee shop. "Maybe she's still there...waiting to see if I come back."
Emily shook her head, she knew better even though the vision refused to leave her head. She grabbed all of the documents and the envelope and started to shove them back in when she saw a small folded piece of paper at the bottom. She shook the envelope until it fell out and unfolded it. Once she saw it was in JJ's handwriting she dropped everything back onto the bed and sat back down by the window to read.
I know this is hard for you. I can't even imagine giving up everything you've ever known and watching your old life be buried. But to keep you alive you have to do whatever it takes.
It seems like just yesterday when you kissed me for the first time, and to even think I may never kiss those lips again is heart breaking. I will find him. I will do whatever it takes, learn whatever I have to learn, go wherever I need to go, to the ends of the earth if that's what it takes to get you back. I can't lose you now that I've found you.
Don't give up baby. No matter how long it takes. One way or another we WILL be together again. I swear this to you from the bottom of my heart.
I love you my darling, and I will love you forever.
Emily held the note to her lips and kissed it then to her heart and whispered, "I love you too Jennifer."
Three Months Later - Alexandria, Va.
He rolled over in his sleep, his arm reaching for her warm skin. When his hand met nothing but the cool sheets it continued to move, searching for her until he reached the edge of the mattress. He opened his eyes and looked at the empty pillow that showed no indentation of her head and sighed.
He sat up and swung his legs over the edge of the bed and rubbed his face, the sound of his palms running over his beard stubble loud in the quiet room. He knew where she was, where she always was this time of night. The same place she had been almost every night since it had happened. No matter how many times he begged, bribed or fought with her about staying up all night, he could find her there more times than not.
With a groan he stood, his boxers hanging loose on his narrow hips and scratched the left cheek of his ass as he walked out of their bedroom. He glanced into their son’s room more out of habit than anything else; she wouldn’t be there this time of the night and risk waking him. He padded quietly down the hall and then down the stairs, turning left and walking into the living room.
The lights were low, only a tableside lamp burned, illuminating her blonde hair, her head lowered as she read the case file. He walked up silently behind her and looked over her shoulder and his stomach knotted like it did every time he saw that fucking picture. He used to feel pity when he saw it, now it just made him angry. Besides, he never liked the bitch anyway.
“Damn it Jennifer! Give it up already!”
His heavy New Orleans accent made her name sound like ‘Jen-i-fah’ and the sound just grated on her nerves. To be honest, everything he did grated on her nerves.
“Go back to bed Will.”
“How long are you going to keep this up? What could you possibly hope to accomplish?”
“Go to bed Will. It’s late and I have no desire to have this argument with you.”
William LaMontagne Jr. walked around the couch and stood in front of her and placed his hands on his hips. “I have no desire to fight with you either Cheri, but even you must realize this has become obsessive.” Kneeling down in front of her, Will gently took the files out of her hands, “She’s gone mon ami…I know you are sad but your friend is gone. There is nothing more you can do for her.”
JJ glared up at her son’s father and snatched the folder out of his hand.
“As long as that bastard is still walking on this earth then there is something I can try to do for her. I can try to help catch Ian Doyle and put him away for the rest of his life or better yet help put him in the ground where he belongs! “
“That’s not your job! None of this is your job! When are you going to get that through your head Jennifer? You no longer work for the BAU. Ian Doyle, Emily Prentiss, they are not your problem!”
“My problem? My problem?” JJ’s voice escalated as she began to get angrier and angrier. “How the hell can you stand there and say something so stupid to me?”
Will held his hands up in surrender, trying to stop the fight that he started before JJ went off the deep end on him. “I’m sorry! It’s just that you spend too much time on this, baby. I don’t see you all day and when you come home from work you have your nose buried in this.”
“Seriously? You’re gonna stand there and whine like a little girl about how much you see me?” JJ ran her hand through her hair and blew out air, “For the love of God! I work, while you've decided you wanted to stay home with my son. I come home at a reasonable time and spend time with my son and spend time with you. I wait every night until Henry and you have gone to bed before I even think to pull this file out of my bag. So don’t you dare blow that bullshit my way!”
JJ gave the picture inside one last look and closed the file before slipping it into her bag and buckling it shut.
“She was my friend and I loved her. Don’t ever ask me to forget her again. Now move out of my way I’m going to bed.”
“Finally! I’ll be up in a second, baby.”
“I’m sleeping in Henry’s room, you do what you want.”
Will opened his mouth to respond but another glare from her flashing blue eyes shut him up and he just watched her walk up the stairs.
“What the fuck? Damn woman has been a thorn in my side from the moment I met her! Even dead she’s a pain in my ass and still trying to steal my woman! SHIT!”
Present Day - Washington, DC
As Emily sat outside the cafe she was amused to watch the holiday shoppers rushing to and fro, in such a hurry they seemed to be ignoring the people they were so anxious to buy gifts for. She just shook her head, sipped her coffee and checked her watch. She was late. She had said she would be there by 3 o'clock, but it depended on whether Will gave her a hard time about going out again. "Man has no respect for the undead." Emily sighed to herself.
"Still talking to yourself I see Prentiss?" JJ said as she sat down with a big smile. "Sorry I'm late. I had a few matters to deal with before I could leave the house."
"You don't have to apologize JJ. Just seeing you again is a wonder all by itself, nothing can mare that for me." Emily looked at her with a big smile on her face, "Have I told you how much I missed you?"
"Only twice a day and three times on weekends." JJ said laughing.
"Is that all? Have to work on that." Emily said getting up and going inside to order JJ's usual coffee. While she waited she watched the blonde in pure wonder that she was even there. That she actually had the chance to rekindle their friendship if nothing else.
She came back and sat the cup of steaming coffee in front of JJ with a smile. "Thanks." JJ held it between her hands to warm up but didn't lift it or drink from it. She seemed to be staring through it and off into space. Emily reached over and covered her hands with one of hers, "Hey, what's bothering you babe?"
JJ sighed and smiled, "Nothing Em. So, what do you want to do today? Shoe shopping or clothes shopping?"
"Actually I was hoping you would go toy shopping with me. Help me pick out something for Henry for Christmas."
JJ smiled the first genuine smile since she had arrived at the cafe, "I'd like that. You know you don't have to buy him anything right?"
"I know I don't have to. I want to." Emily lifted her cup and took a sip, "So tell me what's eating you Jay. Is Will really giving you a hard time about coming out with me? "
"A little. I'm not sure what he thinks. He acts like I'm either lying about meeting you, or we're doing something other than shopping."
"Well, he never did like me, or trust me for that matter." Emily said with a smirk. "And I may tease about him being from the Bayou, but he's not stupid either. Though right now there isn't much to be suspicious of, is there?"
"He like you Em."
Emily chuckled, "Please. He hates me. The day Henry was born he told me he won and I lost so I should keep my distance."
"He did what?"
Emily held up her hand, "I thought it was funny at the time. I hadn't even confessed my feeling to you and here he's trying to get all bad assed with me outside the maternity ward. I just laughed and told him as long as he kept you happy, then he didn't need to worry about me."
Emily grew serious as she saw JJ's face darken in anger. "Hey. Let it go baby. It was nothing to me then and it's nothing to me now. "
JJ balled up her fist and pounded lightly on the table, "I knew I was right! The argument we had, before I left the house today, was about you. It had been bothering me since your funeral, why he wouldn't come, why his condolences always seemed forced, why he pushed me to move on and let you go. So when he started in about me spending my free time with you when I should be with him, I asked him. He wouldn't answer, just kept pushing and making it sound like I was a bad mother for wanting to go out with a friend instead of stay home with him and Henry. Hell Henry was spending the day with Penelope at the zoo! Mr. Mom had forgotten all about it, hadn't even noticed that Pen had come and gotten Henry an hour before."
Emily pressed her hands to her eyes and shook her head, "You're kidding right?"
"I wish I were." JJ grumbled. "So I just flat out asked him why he was always riding me about you. He never bitched when I went out with Penelope, just you. Know what he said to me? That he had been glad when he heard you were dead! That for the first time ever, he believed there was no real competition for my attention, just Henry and he had a handle on that."
Emily's mouth went dry and her throat made a clicky sound as she tried to swallow. She could feel the anger rising but she bit it down and clenched her fist in her lap where JJ couldn't see it. "A handle on it? What the hell does that mean?"
"Until Henry is a teenager he has control over him, being the stay at home dad, so he could control how much time he got to spend with me in proportion to his share of time. Can you believe that crap?" JJ just shook her head in disgust. "I told him the only thing he was going to have a handle on was his suitcase as he walked the hell out of my house!"
"Let me talk to him. I'll straighten his ass out..." Emily angrily declared.
"Whoa...hold on there tiger. I already took care of it."
"You what? JJ you can't let this fool just walk all over you!"
"Honey there are no footprints on my back. You can count on that!" JJ smiled and placed her hand gently on Emily's arm.
Emily looked at her for a long moment, realizing for the first time how much JJ had changed in the ten plus months she had been 'dead'. She had become a stronger, tougher woman than the one she had said goodbye to. "Can I ask you a question?" JJ nodded, "Go for it." "Why is it we only meet in crowded public places? I haven't kissed you properly since my 'resurrection', if you will."
JJ was silent and looked out at the crowd milling around them, couples walking hand in hand, sitting together at the cafe, going into shops and she sighed deeply. "I've changed a lot Emily. Losing you like that...it tore something inside of me. I saw for the first time how much time I had wasted. No. We had wasted before Nashville and even after with our sneaking around to steal moments together. You were dead. For all intents and purposes, as far as the entire world was concerned you were dead! And I had no right to even say I loved you. And all our time, all our memories; just stolen moments."
Emily grabbed JJ's hand and squeezed it tightly, "It was no easier for me! One moment I had you, you were mine and the next I'm dead to the world. Dead to you! That kinda fucks with a girl's head ya know. But every night I dreamed that one day, one day I would be able to come back and be with you. Stand before the world not only as myself, Emily Prentiss, but as a woman who loves Jennifer Jareau madly. When I was given a chance to live again, I swore I would do a better job than I did the first time. And this time I would live my life as a woman not afraid to love, Was I wrong JJ? Has it been too long for us to pick back up and love each other?"
"I don't know Emily. I honestly don't know." JJ gave a frustrated wipe at a tear that began to roll down her cheek. "I asked Will to move out today. Not because of you, but because I was tired of living half a life. I care for him, but I don't love him. He's the father of my child, but I feel nothing else in the way of obligation to him. And that just was no longer fair to either of us."
JJ stood and looked down at Emily, "I should go. Penelope will be bringing Henry home soon." She leaned down and kissed Emily on the cheek and as she stood back up she looked into her chocolate brown eyes and melted just a little, "I can't expect less from you Emily. As much as I enjoyed our stolen moments, that was a half life too. And a half life is no enough anymore. Maybe we just waited too long and it's too late for us. I just don't know. All I know is I do still love you, but we both deserve better than we settled for before."
It hadn't been how JJ had planned their afternoon to go, but she knew it was something she had to do as she walked away from Emily. Emily had been given a rare gift, a second chance at life and to waste it on a part time love and a part time lover was shameful, and she deserved better.
It hadn't taken long for everyone at the BAU to learn of JJ and Will's separation, and no one had been very surprised by the development either. It seemed like failed relationships was par for the course for any member of the team at any given time.
JJ only spoke of it if she was directly asked about Will, and all she said was he had moved back to New Orleans and had resumed his job on the New Orleans' Police force, and that she made sure he would see Henry at least once a month until formal visitation rights were drawn up.
Emily in her own way, discussed the complexities of living a death and rejoining the living. Her advice to Rossi to not see a second chance as something improbable but as something possible made her think long and hard about what she wanted from this new life she had been given. During a case they had discussed the possibility of life after death and Reid spoke of a warmth and light when he came close to death. Emily confessed that she had actually died on the way to the hospital and all she saw was darkness and felt nothing but coldness. "I have to know if I can change that." She told the group. All she wanted to know is could she alter what she was given of this new life, let lightness and warmth in now, so she would see and feel it when her time came again. If JJ was right, and she had been living a half life, then it was a dark half and it was time to see what was on the other side.
Morgan stretched and groaned a happy sound, "Thank ya Jesus it's Friday! I am ready for a few drinks." "Oh that sounds great! Mind if I join you?" Emily asked. "Not at all sweetness. The more the merrier, I always say." Emily grinned, "Now that's a brilliant plan. C'mon everyone. Drinks and burgers, on me!" Penelope popped her head out of her office with her usual sparkling smile, "Did I just hear Prentiss offer free drinks and food?" "That you did Babygirl...better hurry before she comes to her senses." Penelope darted out and laced her arm through JJ, "C'mon girl! Maybe we can talk her into free boots for dessert." Rossi walked up behind Emily and put his arm around her shoulder, "You do know you can't keep the life insurance right?" Emily held up her hands, "I gave back every penny...of the principle." "Didn't it gather any interest while it was in the bank?" Reid asked. "Shut up wonder boy. I said I gave back the principle, now you want dinner or not?"
The all sat together at a large round table eating and drinking as Emily told them tales of some of her time in Paris. "I do have one thing I would like to share with all of you. I was looking over my file the other day and the pictures of my funeral. The way you all circled my coffin, you were protecting me, even though you all believed I was gone. I did what I did to protect what I saw as my family. But until I saw that picture I didn't realize what family was. I never got to say it then, and I should have said it as soon as I came back. I love each and every one of you more than I can ever express." Emily lifted her glass and toasted them, "To my real family, I died once for you and I would die again for you all." "Don't even think it Prentiss!" Morgan growled. "I will dig your ass up and kick it back to life, you hear me?"
Emily laughed and threw him a kiss, "I have one more thing I want to share then I'll sit down and shut up." She pushed her chair back and stepped away from the table and started to walk around it. "A lot has changed since I left DC. A lot of you have changed and I have changed, for the better is all I can hope. No more secrets." She stopped next to JJ, "I need to tell you all, I'm in love." She raised her hands to stop the instant buzzing around the table, "Let me finish, please." Reaching down she pulled JJ's chair out and away from the table and knelt down. "You were so right. I can't go on living half a life. I deserve more than that. And you deserve so much more than that Jennifer. You deserve everything the world has to offer, and everything I can give you. But you were wrong about one thing. It's never too late." Emily reached into her pocket as JJ looked at her like she had gone insane, "Emily, what are you doing?"
"What I should have done ages ago. What I should have done in Miami, in Nashville, as soon as I came home." Emily held out a black velvet box and opened it to reveal a one carat trillion cut diamond , "Jennifer Jareau, Will you marry me? I believe this is why I was given a second chance at life, to make you happy."
JJ's hand flew to her mouth as she stared stunned at Emily and then the ring, "Do you know what you're asking me Emily?"
JJ and Emily locked eyes and JJ smiled, "Yes." and threw her arms around Emily's neck and kissed her with all the love and passion she had been saving just for her.
The team clapped and cheered and Rossi turned to Hotch and said what they all were thinking.
"About Goddamn time"