When she is alone Emily sits in the ridiculously comfortable chair across from the big bay window, watches her empty body, and thinks. Sometimes she thinks out loud: it's not like anyone can hear her and she can't manage pen and paper.
When she isn't alone she leaves the chair to her visitor. Sometimes she stands by the bed, sometimes behind the chair; more often than not she sits on the chair's armrest. It lets her lay a hand on Penelope's or Spencer's arm, if she wants. Penelope can't feel it, but sometimes Emily thinks that Spencer does.
Penelope and JJ each visit every other day, splitting the week between them; surprisingly, it's Spencer who doesn't stick to a strict visitation schedule. Her mother never visits, which is just as well. Emily is only stuck in this limbo because her mother had overruled Emily's will as expressed by the 'no extraordinary measures' request on her jacket. When Emily is angry ,objects rattle and fuses burn. She's not quite sure what would happen if her mother were to visit.
Something changes, after the first month, but Emily doesn't find out what until a month after that, when Spencer, JJ and Penelope step in together. She understands what they're up to as soon as she realizes that they are not so much trading anecdotes as holding a wake.
Ghosts can cry, she discovers, and cry is what Emily does as Garcia strokes her hair, JJ holds her hand, and Reid pulls the plug on her life support. Thank you, she tells them though they cannot hear. Thank you for setting me free.
The continuous beep of the heart monitor becomes a roar. There is a hand on her shoulder and Emily almost turns – would have turned, gladly – except Spencer's face is the last thing to turn to warm grey, and Emily reaches out to comfort him.
The room snaps into clarity. Her hand is on Spencer's as he removes it from the ventilator and his eyes are looking straight at her, into hers, seeing her. His mouth opens as if to speak, as if to say her name, but then he looks down at the hospital bed, swallows, and looks away.
She follows his eyes and sees her body still in that bed, not breathing but there. No, she thinks. No no no no no.
She runs after Spencer. His shoulders tense when she calls his name and he twitches when she touches him, but it will be another month before he meets her eyes and says her name.
Elle watches as Spencer talks to the air. From her point of view this is a two-man operation, her and Spencer against the scum of the world. She knows that from his, it's a three-man team: him, her, and Special Agent Emily Prentiss.
Elle has never actually met Prentiss, but after almost a year with Spencer, she feels like she's known the woman since childhood. She's a force of nature, Spencer's Emily: strong and blunt, opinionated and intelligent, fiercely loyal to anything and anyone she considers her own. Seeing as Emily is dead to everyone but Spencer, ‘her own’ is only Spencer and the cause.
Dead to everyone but Spencer and, sometimes, Elle. She knows Emily cannot actually exist but sometimes (and "sometimes" becomes more and more often with time) Elle forgets that behaving as if the ghost of Emily Prentiss is there, just invisible, is just pretence.
It takes a year and Everett Delaney before Elle clear-headedly considers the possibility that Reid is not delusional and Emily Prentiss isn't gone. Everett Delaney is dead when she arrives. She doesn't know how Spencer found Delaney that fast, how he got inside a locked and bolted barn without any signs of breaking in, or how he pinned Delaney to the pole with a pitchfork twenty feet above ground.
-Spencer says that Emily did it, and a week later Elle has still not found a way to account for the facts without involving ghosts.
The sun is bright in her eyes as she exits the grocery store and that's why it takes her a second and three blinks to realize she's facing a whole SWAT team with Kevlar body armor and guns drawn. For a second, she thinks about going for her piece and ending this right here, but she'd never shoot at a fellow cop. Instead, she slowly places her groceries on the ground and stands back up, lifting her hands to the sky.
"Gun!" one of those cops yell, and she instinctively turns towards his voice. Someone in the crowd of cops must be jumpy, because a trigger gets pulled.
She has a split second to wonder why it hurts less this time, and then all the pain is gone. She is standing over her own dead body, hands frozen above her head in shock, as some of the SWAT people rush forward to check her body and yet others shout orders or argue into their radios.
The next moment, she knows why she is not yet gone: Spencer is still there, and Emily – oh God, Emily – and Elle may be the only chance they have to get out in time.
The door to Gideon's cabin is ajar. Rossi can't convince JJ to stay by the cars as SWAT clears the cabin, but Garcia tell hers, atypically sharp: "I won't let you risk yourself, you hear?"
The cabin is empty. Reid is not coming back: his things are gone, and so is the latest of Greenaway's chop-shop cars. Greenaway's things Reid has left behind. At first Rossi thinks that Reid might have hacked into the grocery store's security feed, but Garcia cannot find any trace that he had.
When Spencer calls in his suicide, she still hasn't.
The first thing Spencer does after Emily sets him free is hug her. Elle lets them cry on each other's shoulders for a while.
It's not like they don't have all the time in the world.