It had been a year.
A year since that day (days? JJ wasn't sure anymore,) down in the basement. A year since Emily had saved her from the horrors her former partner, a man she had trusted with her and her contacts lives, had betrayed her, tortured her, nearly killed her.
JJ sat in her office, staring idly at the stack of paperwork in front of her as she remembered. It came in flashes
Cruz: beaten, bloody
Water on the floor, in her lungs, in her hair
The gentle hum of electricity as the jumper cables came closer
Her clothes tearing
A knife flashing, so close to ending it all
A gentle knock broke the cycle of her waking nightmare
"Jayje, we've got a case hon" Garcia said, voice getting softer as she saw the look on her friend's face. "Everything ok?" She added, eyebrows creased together, lips pursed as she took in the tension in the profilers shoulders. JJ breathed in slowly, and as she let the air out of her lungs she let the coil between her shoulder blades unwind.
"I'll be ok Garcia, thank you" she said, giving her a small smile. "Let me just put these files away, I'll meet you in the briefing room in a minute"
JJ remained focused all through the briefing, but once she was aboard the plane and everyone had busied themselves with their in-flight routines, she couldn't help letting her thoughts slip back to that day. Specifically, JJ couldn't stop thinking about Emily. They made efforts to keep in contact, playing internet Scrabble in their free moments, Skype-ing when they had more than moments and were both awake, but that was a rarity. The majority of their conversation was over in-game chat, or the occasional text message. It was to be expected; catching serial killers and apprehending international criminals were not jobs that allowed a lot of free time, and JJ missed her friend and former colleague. She missed the after-case drinks at the bar down the street from Emily's DC apartment, girl's nights where they were joined by Garcia, going for morning runs and brunch when they had the odd weekend off, catching an exhibit or art show when they managed to get off work in time. Granted, JJ still did these things, but with other people.
Spencer went with her to museums and galleries now, but his enthusiastic chatter, while endearing, wasn't Emily's soft commentary, his higher register a sharp contrast to the brunette's voice, low in her ear as they had wandered through endless Smithsonian halls.
The others had also done what they could to fill in the holes left in JJ's life by Emily, Morgan joining her for workouts, Kate joining Girl's Night, and so on. But it wasn't the same.
She missed her friend.
But therein lay the problem. Friend. Emily had never just been a friend or colleague. The entirety of their time together at the BAU, there had been a certain tension, an undercurrent of energy that had made JJ's heart beat a touch faster, made her stomach want to do acrobatics. JJ knew Emily had felt it too, she had seen the look in the other woman's eyes when they were alone, or after a few drinks, or a particularly emotional case. JJ had seen the hunger and longing that existed in her own soul mirrored in deep brown orbs.
But neither woman ever had the courage to take the next step, to admit to their feelings. Eventually Emily had closed herself off, become distant, just as JJ was beginning to find the courage to admit to herself that she was falling for the older woman.
And then she had met Will. Will was simple, even with the distance. With Will, JJ felt like they could have a future, one that Emily refused to give her. With Will, JJ never had to question his feelings. The New Orleans cop was an open book, had been honest with his intentions from the beginning. And as Emily distanced herself further, JJ found solace in Will's arms. And when she became pregnant with Henry, she knew that she and the mysterious brunette would never be. Emily had said time and time again that she never wanted kids, that Sergio was all the responsibility she could ever handle. JJ thought she could have learned to be ok with that, but the moment she saw the little plus sign on the test she realized motherhood was something she had always wanted. She told herself she would be ok, that if she couldn't have Emily, at least she had Will, and now Henry. And the lie had worked.
But then Doyle happened.
When Emily was in the hospital and they made the decision for her to go undercover, to pretend that she was dead, JJ almost broke. Having to keep up the facade in front of her friends and colleagues for months while secretly communicating with Emily had been one of the most emotionally taxing things she had ever had to do. The thought of Emily's very real mortality had brought all the feelings JJ had spent the last few years pushing down back to the surface, the idea that she could very possibly have to live in a world without SSA Emily Prentiss had terrified the younger woman.
It had all come to a head in Paris. Emotions had been running high, and that night in JJ's hotel room they had finally confessed everything they had been trying to hide from each other and themselves for so long. She could still remember the way Emily's lips had tasted: wine and chocolate and something uniquely Emily. The ghost of Emily's hands running up her spine caused JJ's stomach to somersault, and she squirmed slightly in her seat at the rush of sensations and emotions her trip down memory lane had caused. That night had been filled with more passion, more love, than all the time she had been with Will combined. Emily had eclipsed the father of her child so effortlessly, it was like putting on glasses for the first time; everything was clearer, sharper, better. Lying in bed with the older woman's arms wrapped around her, watching the Paris lights twinkle through the window, JJ had felt like she was truly seeing the world, for the first time. For a few blissful moments it had felt like nothing else existed, just Paris and their bed, but the reality of the situation crashed over her as she remembered why they were there, and why she couldn't stay. Doyle. Will. Henry. The BAU. As it had all come back to her JJ had found herself crying. She had tried to keep quiet, but Emily was a light sleeper, and the brunette had pulled on her shoulder until they faced each other. There was so much tenderness in Emily's eyes, so much love as she wrapped her arms back around her, JJ burying her head in the older woman's shoulder, dark silken strands of hair tickling her nose as she had breathed in her lover's scent, committing it to memory. The smell of expensive perfume and hotel soap mixed with the lingering evidence of their earlier activities was a combination JJ could still recall, even with the overwhelming coffee and cleaning product scent of the BAU jet assaulting her nostrils.
They had stayed up all night like that, wrapped in each other's arms, until the time came that JJ had to leave for her flight back to DC. They hadn't said a word to each other, simply nodded as JJ left the hotel room. JJ had made it to the elevator before she heard the door open, soft steps her only warning before a hand was on her shoulder, turning her around. Emily had pulled her in for a bruising kiss, conveying all her desires and emotions, leaving them both breathless.
"I love you, Jennifer Jareau" the brunette had panted out, one hand resting on JJ's shoulder while the other hung limply by her side.
"I love you too, Emily Prentiss" she had replied.
She would never forget the pained look in the older woman's eyes as she spoke her next words
"I love you so much Jay, but you can't wait for me. I don't know how long this mission will take, or if I'll even survive it. And even if I do, and I come back, I can't give you the life you deserve. You need to forget about me" she had choked out, tears threatening to spill out. "You have a good life in DC, a loving boyfriend and a beautiful son, and I won't ruin it for you with 'someday's and 'maybe's. I will always be your friend JJ, but I can't give you anything more. Now go, you're going to miss your flight"
She hadn't known how to respond. So she didn't. Without a word, she had turned back to the waiting elevator and stepped in, hesitating until she heard the doors close behind her before turning back around and pushing the lobby button.
And she had listened to Emily. She went back to DC, poured herself into work and her family. And it had worked, for a few weeks. But then that scrabble game invite had arrived on her tablet, and she knew Emily missed her as much as she missed the brunette. But she had managed to balance it all; her feelings for Emily, her home life with Will and Henry, work. It all managed to stay in sync, even when Emily returned and the havoc that had ensued because of it, through it all JJ had kept her feelings in check. They were to be friends, nothing more. And she would rather have her as a friend than nothing, so she managed. It had gotten easier after Emily returned to Interpol, the distance allowed her to further compartmentalise, to further separate herself. It was a practiced skill that came with being s profiler: the ability to separate yourself emotionally from a situation, or in this case, person. It was a necessary skill if you made your career by catching the worst criminals in the country, and JJ used it on her feelings for Emily.
So why now, a full year after the last time she had seen Agent Prentiss face to face, and years after their night in Paris, was she being bombarded with feelings she thought had long since died down? Just as JJ was about to begin analyzing, the plane dipped slightly, and the pilot told them over the intercom to strap in for landing.
Whatever was going on, it would have to wait until the case was over.
The case was a brutal one, as they always were, and when JJ finally walked through the front door of her house, nearly a week after she had left, she sighed in relief at the silence that had met her. Will had said he would take Henry with him to his mother's for the rest of the week, give JJ time to reboot after the grueling few days she had just endured. Putting her go bag in the laundry room, she decided that washing it's contents could wait, and went to the kitchen for a much-needed glass of wine. As she sat at the kitchen island and sipped her glass of Pinot Grigio, she allowed her profiler mind to turn to herself. What could possibly be behind this sudden resurgence of feelings? As her eyes wandered around the airy kitchen, a framed photo on the wall caught her attention. It was a selfie of her holding Henry, Will kissing her cheek as he held the phone.
They had fought the night before JJ had left, and he had finally said the thing that had been weighing on his mind for their entire relationship.
"You'll never love me as much as you love Emily, just admit it!"
His words echoed in her memory, and she knew they rang true. That was why Will was back in New Orleans, and JJ knew that when she made it upstairs his things would be gone. Will had told her that he was already speaking to an attorney, and he would have divorce papers written up in a few weeks.
JJ knew she should feel sad, feel guilty for what she put Will through, that she should be dreading the upcoming divorce process, but all she felt was relief. She could finally admit to herself and the world that she was in love with Emily Prentiss, could finally stop hiding and settling and fearing. It felt like a giant weight had lifted off her chest, and she could breathe again. The clarity that she had had that night in Paris, the same clarity that had been muddied and blurred since the minute she had stepped into that elevator, was beginning to return to her. She knew what she had to do now.
Within half an hour she had booked her ticket, packed a bag, and was on her way to Ronald Reagan International Airport. Hotch had given the team the next two days off, and while it wasn't a lot of time to do what she needed to do, it would have to be enough. A purposely vague call to Penelope had told her what she needed to know, and ten hours later her plane touched down at Charles De Gaulle.
The taxi ride to the Interpol offices was one of the longest of her life. The entire way there she fidgeted and analyzed her plan. It was a simple one, but JJ felt herself having doubts. It had been so long since that night, and while she was still in love with Emily, was Emily still in love with her? If her feelings weren't reciprocated, JJ was in for quite the embarrassment. But now was not the time for doubt.
"It's time to woman the hell up, Jareau" she muttered to herself as the taxi pulled up outside the large glass structure that housed the headquarters of Interpol, and where the love of her life's office was located.
Using her FBI credentials to convince the woman at the front desk that an escort to her destination was not necessary, JJ located Emily's office with relative ease. Etched into the frosted glass door was her name, with "Unit Chief, Paris Division" written underneath in both English and French. She could hear Emily's low, steady voice on the other side, the lack of other voices indicating she was most likely on the phone. Smoothing her travel-wrinkled clothes, JJ knocked gently on the door.
"Entrés" Emily called. Taking a deep breath, she pushed the door open and walked in. And there she was, standing behind her desk, phone held to her ear while she continued her conversation in French, stopping mid-sentence when she realized who had just walked in to her office. "Lemme call you back" she said, hanging up the phone and walking around to the other side of her desk. JJ put her coat on the rack by the door, leaving her small rolling suitcase next to it, and strode up the to brunette.
Emily raised her eyes in surprise "JJ what are you-"
She didn't let her finish her question, pressing her lips to the older woman's gently, cupping her face as she increased the pressure of the kiss. She felt Emily stiffen, but after a moment she relaxed, returning the kiss with as much caring and passion as JJ was giving. When they separated Emily's face was a mix of emotions, love and confusion being predominant.
"Jen, what is going on? Why are you here?" She asked, taking a step back. "And not that what just happened isn't appreciated, but aren't you kind of married" her tone flattening as she reached the m word.
JJ shook her head, stepping towards the other woman, closing the space between them. She couldn't help but stare at the Interpol agent, Emily was just as beautiful as the last time she had seen her. Her hair was a little longer, but that was the only indicator that it had been a year since they had last shared a time zone.
" I couldn't do it anymore Em" she said. Brown eyes raised to meet clear blue, brows raised in anticipation. "Will and I, we're getting divorced."
Dark eyes widened in surprise.
"He knows, Em. I didn't even have to tell him, he's known the whole time, he just didn't want to believe it, but he couldn't deal with it anymore" she answered, reaching out to touch her crossed arms
"With knowing that I'm desperately in love with you"
Her answer hung in the air between them, heavy. Yet to JJ it felt freeing. To openly admit it, after all these years of hiding how she felt. She saw the gears turning in Emily's head as she processed her confession, getting nervous as she tried to figure out what the other woman was thinking.
"You know, this won't be easy" she said, a corner of her mouth twitching "it's a long flight from Paris to DC." A full fledged smile breaking out as she finished. As soon as JJ processed what she had just heard she let out a squeal of delight, throwing her arms over the brunette's shoulders and kissing her squarely. Emily put her hand behind JJ's head, deepening the kiss. It was a kiss both of them had waited so long for, a kiss that signified the end of years of emotional turmoil, years of holding back for fear of ruining what they had. It was a kiss that signaled the end of their friendship, and the beginning of something entirely new.