It all suddenly goes to hell and Emily doesn’t know what to do anymore. She’s a grown woman but she feels she needs guidance more than ever now. She doesn’t like feeling like this, all scattered thoughts, uneasy emotions and long buried memories. She can’t compartmentalize anymore and she’s feeling like she’ll break any second now. She pinches the bridge of her nose and pleads mentally with herself to last just an hour longer, until she can go home and let the walls go.
She jerks a little when she feels a warm, big hand set on her shoulder.
“Take a walk with me, Emily.”
She looks up into Rossi’s eyes, his smile a little tight around his lips. She nods jerkily and gets up, swinging her jacket around and putting it on. She easily falls into step beside him and waits until he starts talking. They step into the elevator and when the silence stretches she risks a look at him from the corner of her eye and notices he’s watching her.
“You just looked like you could have used a break,” he says as he exits the elevator.
She’s standing there, a little dumbfounded but follows him quickly and accepts the silence for what it is.
She sees the worried glances Rossi sends in Hotch’s direction. She wants to know what it’s all about but if she learned anything from her time in the BAU it’s the fact that you’re supposed to have each other’s back, no matter what, questions preferably unasked and problems preferably left personal and unprofiled.
That’s why she attracts Morgan’s attention, asking him a question about the profile he had been working on and deliberately disagreeing with his opinion. That’s why she sat quietly through Reid’s lectures on Chaucer and Dante, nodding from time to time and smiling at the man. That’s why she engaged JJ in talks about Henry, even though it brought that little nibbling pain into her heart. That’s why she was so glad that Garcia usually kept to her bunker.
It isn’t at all because of the grateful smile Rossi sends her when he figures out what she’s doing.
She slides into the elevator just before the door closes and nods her greetings at Hotch. He looks pale and tired and she knows he hasn’t had a good rest in a really long while. It’s the first morning she didn’t pick him up from his flat, after his terse insistence last night that he’s completely fine to drive himself to work.
“Emily… Thank you,” he looks her straight into eyes as he says it.
She just nods and smiles a little, shrugging her shoulders as to say that that’s what she’s there for.
“Morgan came to talk to me the other day.”
She raises her head from the report she’s been reading and looks inquiringly at Rossi who’s sprawled all over the couch in his office.
“He’s worried about Hotch. He thinks Hotch shouldn’t be back yet. Morgan questions his every move, but you already know that.”
She closes the file, bookmarking the page she’s been reading with her fingers.
“I do. But there’s nothing we can do. You know Morgan is loyal to Hotch, but he can’t help but worry. You and I worry too, we just don’t show it by questioning Aaron but by trusting him. That’s what he needs.”
The way Rossi looks at her makes her feel like she passed a very important exam with flying marks. He stands up, moves towards his cabinet and takes out three glasses and a bottle of Scotch.
“He’s still in the office,” he says as he hands her one of the glasses.
She puts down the report and follows Rossi.
Morgan’s getting more worried and less subtle by the day. She’s worrying about it, she’s worrying about the team. She’s seen Strauss around their area a few times and she has a bad feeling about this. She corners Morgan in the break room while they’re getting their morning dose of caffeine.
“You shouldn’t be questioning Hotch all the time.”
She notices how his shoulders straighten and tense as he turns around to face her.
“Oh, really? I shouldn’t question a man who walks out on the team he’s working with in the middle of apprehending UnSubs? Why is that, Emily? Tell me, please.”
She sets her mug on the counter and looks him straight in the eye.
“Because we’re hired to question motives of UnSubs, not our bosses.”
“We’re hired to be the voice of reason and to call the right judgement, Prentiss. Neither of which Hotch seems to do lately.”
“He was right to walk out then. You know that. It was a bloodshed and we didn’t need to be there. We gave the profile, we did our job. You want heroics? You should have stayed with the bomb squad.”
Morgan slams his hand hard on the countertop and it takes a lot out of her not to flinch at the sound.
“What the hell, Emily? You’re even talking like Rossi now. First you follow him like a puppy and now you spew the same things he’s saying.”
“Don’t talk about the things you don’t have any idea about, Derek,” she hissed, her face scrunching up in anger.
“Oh, I don’t have any idea what I’m talking about? I’m talking about the connection you two have. The way you’re too involved for colleagues, the way you’re shadowing him and he you. It’s like you have your own little team now.”
She knows people must have heard their raised voices so she drops down her tone as she points a finger at Morgan.
“That ‘little team’ as you said is what team-mates do. We trust our boss and we support him. We worry about him and yes, we question his judgement, but we don’t do it openly because we know there are some people who’d love to see Hotch go. And don’t you dare to imply that there’s something more to that. Don’t you fucking dare, Derek, not after you got involved with our victim’s sister.”
She can see the spiteful retort Morgan has for her and steels herself for it. She just notices one of her hands is balled into a fist, fingernails digging into her skin. Morgan opens his mouth to answer her when they hear a cough from the doorway. She turns around and sees a sheepish looking Reid standing there, an empty mug in his hands and a worried expression on his face.
“We could hear you down the hall. Keep it quiet if you must continue, please. Strauss just arrived.”
She feels Derek’s body brush angrily against hers as he stalks out of the break room, his coffee entirely forgotten. She offers Reid an apologetic nod and is relieved when he gives her one back.
“It’s just the way Morgan is, you know that. He can’t help but show his worry. I’ll try to talk to him later on. Just… Just take it easy on him for the next couple of days, okay?”
“Of course. Sorry you had to hear this,” she says as she fills Reid’s cup with coffee.
“One of the risks of the job, I guess. That and getting shot. Although I prefer to get shot, really.”
She can’t help but crack a smile at that. Neither of them mentions the fact that it didn’t reach her eyes.
All she dreams about now is a scalding hot shower and her big, comfortable bed. They have been on the case for the past seventy-two hours and it didn’t end well. The UnSub killed the two teenage girls he kidnapped as soon as he saw their SUVs roll into his yard. She could still hear the shotgun going off as she stepped out of the car and felt the crushing realisation that they were too late. Still, her body reacts instinctively as she sees the UnSub step out on his porch, his shotgun in his hands, aiming at everyone and anyone. She hides behind the SUV’s open door, her gun ready and aimed when she hears the cops assisting them open the fire. Suicide by cop – something she despises with passion.
Nobody from the team was harmed even though Reid’s hands still shake from the gunplay. She’s leaning against the SUV’s side, her eyes scanning around. Morgan is talking to the chief of the local police, Rossi and Hotch went in to have a look at the UnSub’s house. Paramedics cart out the bodies of the teenagers they were too late to help and she has to turn her eyes away. She feels Reid stand beside her, his hands clenched self-consciously on his elbows.
“We should have waited for the night,” she hears JJ murmur from the car.
Emily sighs, her hand reaching to rub at her tired eyes.
“We needed to respond quickly, Jayj. The chances of them being alive were slim at best, but we had to do something.”
“I know. I just… I just wish we found them alive.”
Reid mumbles an agreement, his eyes on the dirty ground. He opens his mouth a few times as if to say something only to hesitate.
“It must have been awful. Hearing your rescuers and thinking everything would be okay only to get shot the next second.”
Both Emily and JJ turn to look at Reid. Sometimes they forget that despite his logical outlook on life he could empathise with the victims – especially victims who waited for help.
“Reid – “
“Let’s go,” Hotch interjects, already moving towards the other SUV.
Emily nods at Reid and JJ and follows Hotch. How the man still has the energy to drive, she doesn’t know. She slides into the backseat, intent on catching a wink of sleep. She feels Rossi get into his seat in front.
“Sleep, Emily. We’ll wake you up when we get to the airport.”
Her words of gratitude are drowned out by a huge yawn and she falls asleep before she can reply.
Emily would be lying if she said she wasn’t surprised when Hotch stepped down and handed his position over to Morgan. She knows it was the sensible decision and that it would somehow make both of them learn something. After that happened she made doubly sure she was avoiding Strauss’ presence. She really has no desire to be sucked into yet another power play. She’s had enough of that at her mother’s home. It took them a bit to get used to the shift in power, they still had to find the balance in the team but they were doing okay.
She raises her hand to knock at Rossi’s door when she hears Hotch’s voice.
“He’s doing fine, all things considering. He’s under a lot of pressure but Morgan is a good leader, he just needs some practice.”
“True, but the thing is, he’s much more comfortable as a subordinate. The responsibility for the team might be too much for him.”
She knocks on the door sharply, not wanting to hear more. She pokes her head in the room and smiles at Hotch and Rossi.
“We’ve got a case. Meeting in fifteen,” she says and disappears, already on the move to deliver the news to Morgan.
She enters what used to be Hotch’s old office and immediately spots Morgan who tries his best to look as if he’s comfortable in the leather chair.
“We’ve got a case.”
Morgan looks up from a file he was reading and nods his head. He furrows his brow and nods towards the door.
“Close the door. I need to talk to you.”
She lets her surprise show, her brows drawing together and up her forehead but does as she’s asked and sits in one of the chairs opposite of Morgan. He leaves the files on the desk and runs his hands over his face.
“I’m sorry for what I said back then,” he says with his eyes closed, as if he’s trying to forget their fight.
“So am I. I shouldn’t have been so harsh.”
Morgan looks at her and sends her one of his shit-eating grins.
“Yes, well, you were right. If I hadn’t questioned Hotch I wouldn’t be in this situation now.”
Emily cocks her head to the side and simply takes him in. Morgan looks tired, the circles around his eyes a dead giveaway. He seems to be moving with less grace and energy lately and she can certainly understand why.
“I just… I want out, Em. But I damn well know I won’t get out until Strauss calms down. I really have no idea how Hotch does it. The politics, the files, the contacts… That’s definitely not something I want to do for the rest of my life. I’m really glad I didn’t take that job in New York.”
She sends him a half smile.
“You’re doing good. You know that, Derek. If you weren’t, Strauss would be all over the team. You just need time to get used to it, that’s all.”
“That’s the thing. I don’t want to get used to it. I want Hotch to come back. He’s excellent at what he does and he seems to take pleasure from it. I’m not that kind of a guy. I’m starting to understand that he can’t think like a cop or an agent, he has to think of the team and make the best decisions for us.”
“His decisions might have been controversial or illogical to you before but you understand now, don’t you?”
Morgan leans back in his chair, his hands resting on his stomach as he quirks his eyebrow and teases her.
“Seems like you understand men in power better than I thought.”
Emily scoffs but she is ridiculously happy to have the old Morgan back. She lets her shoulders relax and pulls a face.
“My mother read me Machiavelli as a bedtime story every night. I had The Prince memorised by the time I was seven. She said it had valuable life lessons.”
Morgan laughs, a deep belly laugh that she realises she missed hearing for the past few weeks. He’s shaking his head at her as he stands up. He walks to her and offers her his hand. Emily laughs and hoists herself up.
“Well, no wonder you charmed Tamara, you are a regular gentleman, aren’t you?”
She means it in jest but she sees she pushed at a sore spot. Morgan straightens and drops the smile.
“I’m sorry for what I said about her, I was out of the line,” she thinks it’s because of that but his reaction proves her wrong and she can’t help but look at his incredulously.
“You haven’t broken it off. Oh God, Morgan, what are you thinking?”
“Em – “
“No, save it. It’s none of my business and it’s your choice and your life. But just so you know… It’s a good thing that Rossi, Hotch and I have that little team of our own. Because it means that as soon as things go south we will stand by you. Remember that,” she shakes her head, disappointed.
She leaves Morgan in his office and heads to the meeting room. They have a case and she needs her wits about her. According to JJ it’s a bad one and she wants to get it over with as quickly as possible. She takes the chair closest to Rossi who’s talking to Reid. Morgan enters the room and Emily can’t help the way her posture stiffens. Hotch throws her a questioning look but she ignores it and chooses to concentrate on JJ instead.
It’s going to be a long case.
She was there when it all happened, they all shared Hotch’s devastation when Foyet got to Haley. She was sure the man would crumble, finally, but he surprised her yet again. He managed to get though the day, through the questioning by Strauss, through the funeral and the days that followed. She knew he had to be there for Jack but it still surprised her how much power and energy Hotch put in his everyday life to ensure that Jack was looked after and knew he was loved.
She’s in Hotch’s apartment, sitting on his sofa and watching over Jack. Dave and Hotch are in the kitchen, discussing one of the cases they had in the past few months. Jack is showing her his collection of cars and even allows her to play with him. She picks up a police car and admires it.
“That’s a really cool car. Where did you get it?”
Jack raises his head from the ambulance he was playing with and looks at her, his head cocked to the side, his eyes fixed on her.
“My mommy bought it for me.”
She never wanted to kick herself as much as now. She wasn’t greatest with kids, not to mention kids who recently lost their mothers. She wishes she bit her tongue before she asked such a stupid question. Jack seems oblivious to her internal tirade. He leaves the toy on the floor and climbs onto the sofa beside Emily. She puts down the car she held in her hand and turns to face him.
Emily smiles at him, her hand going to comb his hair.
“Call me Emily, Jack.”
“Emily… Do you know where my mommy is?”
And that’s what she dreaded, the question she never wanted to hear. She looks at the boy in front of her sadly and doesn’t know what to say. She opens her mouth to reply with the first thing that comes to her mind, awfully corny and overused and not comforting at all when Dave walks over and kneels in front of Jack, taking his little hands between his own.
“Your mommy is an angel, Jack, she’s in heaven with God now. They watch over you from there and you can always talk to her when you pray,” he says in his gentlest voice, his hands giving Jack a squeeze.
The boy looks at him and pushes down from the couch, sending them a smile. He trots to Hotch who is still sitting by the kitchen table. Hotch raises him onto his lap and Jack whispers into his ear.
“Yes, Dave’s right. Your mommy’s an angel now,” he says with a pained smile.
Jack cuddles into Hotch’s side, whispering something again. Emily looks to Dave who’s still kneeling by the couch.
“You’re… unexpectedly good with kids.”
Dave smirks and raises himself to sit down beside her. He stretches his legs and makes himself at home.
“I always wanted kids but it never worked out. There’s always been something – she didn’t want a child, the job, things like that. Besides… in this line of work your family is always a target.”
Emily can’t help but quirk an eyebrow at him.
“And yet you had three wives.”
Dave chuckles and looks at her a little too closely. She has to resist the urge to squirm in her seat like a schoolgirl facing her crush.
“You’d think I learned my lesson by now but alas,” he drawls with that cocky smile of his that infuriates her to no end.
Jack runs back to them, grabs his police car and Emily’s hand.
“I have a cool fire fighter car in my room! Do you want to see it?”
She’s automatically getting up and following Jack, her cheeks still burning from Dave’s quip. She’ll get him for that one later.