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Compromise

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On the roof of the BAU, Emily sat on the ledge, legs dangling over the edge, wind whipping through her hair. It was Emily’s favorite view of the city. She considered this her little slice of solace, where she could temporarily get away from the job, her life, everything.

Emily heard JJ approaching long before the BAU’s newest agent opened the door to the roof. She inhaled deeply, a swirling mix of anticipation and anxiety filling her. It’d been three and a half months since JJ joined the BAU, since she’d become Emily’s Companion. Things were better between them, better but still strained as both women continued to navigate the minefield between them.

“Morgan said I’d find you up here,” JJ said, approaching the ledge as she buried her hands deeper into her coat. “Aren’t you cold?”

Emily shrugged. “There are worse places.”

JJ placed her hands on the ledge, securing herself as she leaned forward to look down. Some of the blood drained from her face, a sudden shiver running down her spine. She turned towards Emily. “How can you just sit there?”

Emily leaned forward slightly, peering between her knees, gazing at the city streets below. It was a five-story drop. “I’ve jumped from higher.”

JJ gaped at her, mouth hanging open. “Seriously?”

“Hurts like a son of a bitch,” Emily chuckled, shaking her head as she thought about the last time she’d jumped from the roof of the BAU. “Especially in heels.”

JJ smiled, the smile quickly fading as she turned away to face the view, pulling a few wind strewn strands of hair off her face. A silence fell between them, thick and heavy, the quiet before the storm.

Emily merely inhaled again, balling the hands in her pockets into loosely held fists. She liked having JJ close. Most of the time. It’d been three days since JJ allowed Emily to feed off her. Except, JJ didn’t just allow Emily to feed, and it was that scent that still clung to her. Emily’s scent. And Will’s. JJ always smelled like Will days after she’d been with Emily. Like JJ needed to erase the guilt, to remember the feeling of being human, being with a human. Which left Emily somewhere in between, not quite sure what to think or feel. Because she knew what she thought, what she felt. The thought that JJ neither thought nor felt the same? Was killing Emily.

“It’s pretty,” JJ said, breaking the silence and Emily from her thoughts.

Emily mumbled her reaction, nodding in agreement.

“I..” JJ paused, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. A sign, Emily learned, that the woman was nervous. “I had a talk with my Mother yesterday. Honestly,” JJ huffed, folding her arms across her chest as she turned towards Emily, leaning a hip against the ledge. “I really wish my parents would go back to Pittsburgh. Anyway,” she looked down, finding something of interest on the toe of her shoe. “She wants to know why I haven’t asked you to reject me.”

“What’d you say?”

“She reacted about as well as the last time I came out to her,” JJ chuckled mirthlessly. “Mom, I like girls and boys. Mom, I’m attracted to a vampire. I told her I haven’t asked you to reject me because, well, because I like having you in my life. Cue the fireworks. It just got worse from there.” JJ went quiet. She swallowed hard, brows crinkling, trying to keep the anger and hurt from coloring her face.

“She thinks I’m compelling you,” Emily said.

“Worse. She pulled the Burnsley card at me. Said being with that.. monster twisted my head. Like I‘m suffering from some kind of Stockholm Syndrome. I swear to God if she shows up at my door with a priest again..” she paused, craning her head backwards as she let out a long, exasperated sigh. “I just.. I don’t want to do this again. I don‘t want to have to tell my Dad. I don‘t want to tell Will..” JJ lowered her head, bowing. She brought her hands together, thumb and forefinger surreptitiously circling around her engagement ring. “Why can’t they be as understanding as you?”

“Who the fuck says I’m understanding?” Emily balked. “Do you know how badly I want to kiss you right now?”

“Seriously,” JJ chuckled, shaking her head at the sudden conversational 180. “Not helping.”

“Please,” Emily snorted. “Not helping equals the ginormous girl-boner I’ve been walking around with for the past three and a half months.” Off JJ’s laugh, Emily narrowed her eyes playfully. “I’m about this close to sweeping you in my arms, locking you in my lair and doing unmentionable things to your person.”

“You have a lair, now?”

“Of course I do. Didn’t they tell you? We all have one. Still working on the minions, though. You wouldn‘t believe how hard a lair is to keep clean.”

“Why do you do that?” Head tilted down, JJ peered up at her. “Say things to make me feel better?”

“Because.. This whole situation really, really sucks. If I didn’t try and laugh, I’d..” She leaned forward again, looking over the edge. “I’d have found a higher building by now. Because, despite everything,” Emily leaned back, turning her face towards JJ. “I still really, really want to kiss you.”

JJ lowered her eyes again, cheeks flushing a slight pink under the dim light. Emily didn’t need to be a vampire to know JJ felt the same.

“What if, despite everything,” JJ lifted her head, eyes serious once again. “We.. I can’t make it work?”

Emily shrugged. “That’s why I have a lair.”

JJ chuckled a sigh, rolling her eyes. As much as they both needed to have this conversation, it wasn’t happening tonight. JJ was more than willing to pass it off for another day. “Fine, then.”

“Fine, what?”

“Fine..” JJ smiled again, the grin finally making it to her eyes as she folded her arms across her chest and took a step towards Emily. “You can kiss me.”

Emily raised an eyebrow. “Oh, I need permission, now.”

“Don’t be an ass,” JJ said, already leaning forward, eyes focusing on Emily’s lips.

“It’s not a good idea to talk about asses around a vampire with a ginormous girl-boner,” Emily grinned, following JJ’s lead and meeting her halfway.

“And a lair.”

“Of course,” Emily purred as their lips met. “Can’t forget that.”

**

ONE WEEK LATER

They were members of the BAU, and they dealt with monsters. Sometimes, the monsters were Riftlings - werewolves, vampires, and all the other species that had come over during the Rift. But most of the time, the monsters the BAU dealt with were human.

“Are you single, Agent Prentiss?”

His name was Mark Cassevell. Aged 37. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and all the entitlement and privilege that came with it. Over the span of three years, he’d sexually assaulted then murdered seven women.

Allegedly.

He’d been sitting in the Interrogation Room for 64 hours straight, cool as a cucumber, never once calling for the attorney he most definitely could afford. Instead, he sat, waiting for the clock to wind down and he could walk away. Free as a bird.

Emily lifted her head up from the case file before her. It was her turn to interrogate the suspect. No, not suspect. If there was one thing Emily knew, Mark Cassevell was guilty. She knew it down to her bones. Sure, there was no evidence, no shred of DNA to be found but the moment Emily met him, she smelled the victims on him. She’d smelled their fear. She’d smelled their blood. Faint, but unmistakable.

“Of course you are,” he sniffed derisively not waiting for Emily to answer. “Women like you always are.”

Emily narrowed her eyes. “Women like me?”

“You know,” he narrowed his own eyes, lips curling into smirk. “Bitches. Always thinking you‘re better than what you are. Never knowing your place.”

She pulled a photo from the file, spinning it around and sliding it across the table towards Cassevell. “Is that what happened to Sandra Reynolds? She didn’t know her place?”

“Don’t know.” He shrugged, eyes never once looking at the photo. “Never seen her before in my life.”

“We both know that’s not true,” Emily sneered. She’d been trained to curb her anger, to not let the unsubs get to her. Some days were better than others. “Or else, you wouldn’t be here.”

“You know cops. Don’t know their assholes from their elbows. Speaking of cops,” he paused, staring at his reflection in the two-way mirror behind Emily. “Where’s the other one? You know, that pretty blonde?”

Jaw clenching, Emily inhaled slowly, trying desperately to ignore his remark. “Where’s Sandra Reynolds, Mr. Cassevell?”

“Saw she has a ring around her finger. Glad to see some of you know how to be tamed.” He snorted to himself, eyes losing focus as they darkened from the thoughts circling around his brain. “What I wouldn’t give to be the one putting that bitch in her place.”

“Mr. Cassevell!” This time, Emily did growl, a low, rumbling sound as her pupils widened.

“Bet she likes it dirty, too,” Cassevell continued, oblivious to the rising anger in the agent across from him. “Bet she likes to scream. Think I could make her scream,” he paused, turning his focus once again back towards Emily. “Agent Prentiss?”

The blood drained from Mark Cassevell’s face as Emily’s eyes misted to complete black, as her lips pulled back in snarl, exposing fully extended fangs.

“You like screaming, Mr. Cassevell?” Emily slowly rose from her seat. The sound of wood splintering filled the room as Emily’s nails dug hard and deep into the surface of the table. “Would you like it if I made you scream?”

Emily launched herself across the table. Instead of colliding into Cassevell, tasting his blood in her mouth as she ripped the skin from his throat, Emily felt herself yanked backwards. She slammed hard against the two-way mirror, head cracking, the glass splintering like spider webs.

With enough force to break a human’s trachea, Hotch slammed his forearm across Emily’s throat. He’d watched on the other side of the two-way mirror. Watched as Cassevell taunted his subordinate, how Emily fell for it, how she lost control. He’d barged into the room, expecting to stop an agent from beating the ever loving snot out of a suspect, no matter how much the suspect deserved it. He hadn’t expected a half-blood vampire on the verge of a full blown blood-lust.

“PRENTISS!” he growled forcefully, the irises of his brown eyes rimming with yellow, upper and lower canines extending. When she snarled back at him, Hotch pressed his arm harder, the glass behind Emily’s body cracking louder, threatening to shatter. “AGENT PRENTISS!!”

The black in Emily’s eyes receded to black pits surrounded by a growing sea of white. Hotch pulled back just enough to grab Emily by the lapels of her jacket, yanking her towards the door and shoving her into the hallway. “Take a walk!” he yelled, slamming the door.

Hands held in tightly clenched fists, Emily breathed hard and fast through her nose, fighting every instinct within her that screamed for her to go back into that room and finish what she started. And she almost took that step, felt the muscles in her thigh twitching, lifting her leg to move forward.

“Emily!”

That voice, JJ’s voice, was like a hot knife slicing through butter. It cut through Emily’s blood-lust, allowing her to regain some semblance of control. She turned her head towards JJ’s voice. The others were in the hallway, Reid, Morgan, Rossi, even Garcia, but all Emily saw was JJ. Not JJ, just pieces of her - lips and skin and that point on her neck that, even from ten feet away, Emily could see pulsing beneath the thin veneer of protection called skin. Emily curled her hands tighter at the sudden clenching deep within her groin, the hunger, the urge, so close to the surface, so much harder to put back down.

“Prentiss!” It was Morgan this time, stepping into Emily’s line of vision, stepping between Emily and JJ.

Emily forced herself to blink, forced a little bit more of that darkness back down. She blinked again, mouth opening to say something before she just turned on her heel and barged through the exit behind her.

And ran.

She ran down the five flights of stairs, practically taking the door off the hinges when she made it to the street. Emily hadn’t wanted to come. She hated LA, always had, always would. Now, she was running through its streets, in the middle of the night. She ran until the street lights were nothing but a blur, until her lungs burned and the sweat soaked her suit. If she couldn’t control the hunger, she could always try and exhaust it.

She could try.

Emily didn’t stop running until the sun cracked the horizon, when she traded hard pavement for soft sand and dying waves lapping at her feet. Exhausted, she dropped to her knees in the water, the waves coming up to her stomach. After everything, the hunger was still there, churning like a steaming pot on a too warm fire.

So, Emily did the thing she always did when the ache from the hunger became too much, when there was too much hunger and just a little bit of control. She reared her head back..

And screamed.

**

On the jet, it was deathly quiet, an uneasy tension thick in the controlled air. After Emily’s display, once Mark Cassevell recovered from having curled himself in a fetal position, soiling his five-thousand dollar suit, he confessed. Apparently, he had a not-so irrational fear of Riftlings. Upon realizing he’d been locked in an interrogation room with a vampire, let alone taunting one into blood-lust, then left alone with a werewolf, he confessed to everything, from the murders he committed, the location of the remaining women (who were, thankfully, still alive), down to stealing from the collection plate as an eight-year old.

It wasn’t how any of them wanted to bring the unsub down, but they all knew sometimes it was easier to take the win however it came. Today, it had come at the expense of Emily.

Emily wasn’t on the plane. She’d decided to take another flight. Hotch agreed. Now, the rest of them were left wondering just what was going on with their team member, and how to deal with it.

“Can I just go ahead and ask what we’re all thinking?” Morgan’s voice cut through the silence with all the subtlety of a chainsaw. He set his gaze directly on JJ. “What the Hell’s going on with you two?”

“Morgan!” Garcia gasped, eyes wide in that ‘will you please shut up‘ manner of hers.

“What?” He turned his eyes towards Garcia. “Tell me you haven’t noticed? She’s moody. Distant. Now she almost takes a guy’s head off? Literally.”

“You mean..” JJ said, almost forgetting she was the partial subject of this conversation until both Garcia and Morgan’s heads turned towards her. “She’s not like this all the time?”

“Trust us, sunshine,” Garcia said with a comforting squeeze of JJ’s hand. “This isn’t Emily.”

Morgan lifted his eyebrows in agreement. “I haven’t seen her this moody in a long time.”

“Yeah,” Reid interjected. “Not since Doy.. HEY!” he squeaked as Garcia not so playfully kicked him in the shin.

“We all agreed to not mention ‘she who shall not be named’. Like, ever again,” Garcia warned.

JJ pursed her lips. Emily had mentioned Iona Doyle but hadn’t really gone into specifics and, since then, JJ hadn’t asked. Hadn’t thought it was worth asking about until now.

“I thought..” Morgan paused, making sure he had JJ’s attention. “You two had come to an agreement?”

“So did I,” JJ said with a soft disbelieving shake of her head. “She fed last week.” She suddenly found something of interest on the table between their seats, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear and hoping no one noticed the sudden blush coloring her cheeks. Because, Emily had done more than feed off of JJ, and JJ had more than definitely enjoyed it. “Emily was the one who agreed to our compromise. If there’s something going on with her.. I honestly have no idea if it has anything to do with me.”

**

It was close to 4am by the time Emily arrived at the BAU. Her separate flight included two layovers, one in Seattle, the other in Minneapolis, turning what should have been a straight five hour flight, had she ridden on the jet, into a hellish 13 hour journey. A journey that had the already edgy agent hanging over the precipice by her fingernails.

Despite all that, Emily went straight from the airport to the BAU. She’d hoped to talk to Strauss, to apologize for her actions. Instead, she arrived at the BAU, went straight to Strauss’ office and saw Hotch sitting across from the woman. Whatever they were talking about, Emily knew it was about her. And it wasn’t good.

She sat at her desk, head tilted back, eyes closed, listening to the silence of the bullpen. Before the door even opened, she knew Hotch was on the other side, making his way towards his office. She didn’t know how long he’d been in Strauss’ office when she arrived, but it was close to sunrise when he finally left. Which was, also, never good.

“Prentiss,” he called out to her in that controlled tone of his. “My office.”

Emily groaned inwardly, her body like chewing gum on hot cement as she managed to forcibly peel herself out of her seat and grumpily getting to her feet. She entered Hotch’s office, eyes downcast, proverbial tail tucked between her legs.

“Listen, Hotch..”

“Sit down, Prentiss,” he said immediately. He pointed towards the couch in his office rather the normal chair across from his desk.

Defeated, Emily went and sat down on the couch, practically holding her breath as Hotch sat on the corner of his desk.

“I just spent..” he finally said, the little creases between his brows deepening as he spoke, “The past couple hours convincing Strauss not to reassign you to another unit.”

“Sir..” She knew she should thank him, instead, she felt the sag in her shoulders deepening. The razor thin line she walked across had just gotten thinner, sooner or later, Emily was going to get cut.

Hotch folded his arms over his chest, taking the few moments of silence to look at his subordinate. “What did I tell you when you were first assigned here?”

“You said every department in the government was watching this agency, me in particular.” Which was true. While there were vampires working in all branches of the government, none of them were field agents. They couldn’t due to not being able to walk in sunlight. Emily was the exception to the rule, the pressures on her, the department, evident.

Hotch broke the eye contact, his face softening. “What did I tell you after that?” He lifted his head off Emily’s silence. “I told you you’re not alone. This team has always been unique. I like to think that‘s what makes us the best. So when I say we, more than anyone else, can understand what you‘re going through, or are in a position to help, I mean it.”

“I..” Emily exhaled, slumping back on the couch. “I know, Sir.”

It’d been Emily who’d doggedly pursued the opportunity to work for the BAU, to work specifically under Aaron Hotchner. She’d expected to find a group of individuals she could learn from, hone her skills as an agent, nothing more, nothing less. She didn’t expect to find a group of individuals she now called friends, to find some semblance of that thing called family.

Hotch lifted himself from his desk, circling around it. He opened a drawer, pulling out a bottle and two glasses. Emily had no idea the man kept alcohol in his office. She watched as Hotch filled both glasses, setting Emily’s on the table before he grabbed the chair in front of his desk, scooted it towards the table and sat down.

“For special occasions,” was all he said before taking a sip.

Emily took her own sip, immediately coughing as the liquor burned its way down her throat. The alcohol humans consumed barely affected her. It took a lot to even give her a good buzz. The alcohol Hotch had given her, was not meant for humans. That it could be called ‘alcohol’ was up for debate.

“Holy shit!” she coughed. “Is this..”

“Like I said,” his normally tight lips cracked a smile. “Special occasions.”

They sat in silence, taking gentle sips of the 190 proof grain, created specifically by and for werewolves. Eventually, Hotch set his glass down on the table, leaning forward, elbows on his knees. “What’s going on with you, Prentiss?”

“To put it bluntly?” Emily looked blankly at the wall, chuckling to herself, knowing exactly why Hotch pulled out his bottle of ‘special occasions only’ hooch. The liquor was potent enough to get a duck to loosen its ass, let alone a half-vampire with a metric fuck-ton’s worth of issues. “To put it bluntly, I’m going into heat! At least,” Emily sighed, leaning forward, mimicking Hotch’s pose. “That’s what it feels like.”

Lips pursing, jaw clenching, little creases forming in his brow in that Hotch always did when in deep thought, Hotch processed the information before finally speaking, “So, this is about JJ.”

“Yes, no, I don’t know.” Setting her hand down, she ran a hand through her hair, raking her fingers across her scalp. “I’ve never had a female Companion before. It‘s not like the rule book was written specifically for me. So, I made up my own rules and, until now, they‘ve always worked. Well, mostly. It‘s not like my luck with Companions has been great up until now.”

He pursed his lips, pausing to put his words in the most neutral tone possible. “Morgan tells me you think the Council has been intentionally giving you incompatible Companions.”

“Goddammit, Morgan,” Emily softly grit through her teeth.

“He’s worried about you. We all are. If you feel Agent Jareau’s a threat..”

“No!” Emily’s eyes widened. She quickly closed them, pressing a hand to her forehead. “JJ’s not a threat.”

“Then what is it?”

“You’ve read her jacket?” She waved with her freehand. It wasn’t like her to open up so easily to her superior. But, Emily had to open up to someone, before she exploded. “You know about her past, right? For fuck’s sake, Hotch. They sent me a Companion who hates vampires. Who was kidnapped, her sister murdered by one. Tell me that’s not a set-up?”

“Yet?”

“Yet..” Emily bowed her head. Just thinking about all this made her head spin, and that was before Hotch gave her his special hooch. She closed her eyes, inhaling deeply, curling her hands into tight fists because whenever she closed her eyes all she saw was golden blonde hair, bright blue eyes and blood that tasted like heaven. “Yet..” She snapped her eyes open, lifted her head. “They got it right, Hotch. They got it fucking.. perfect. But, I was the one who came up with the stupid rules. Who said it was okay for her to be with.. him.” For the first time since entering Hotch’s office, a low growl rumbled up Emily’s throat as her pupil’s dilated. “Every day, I smell *him*, all over her, inside her, his scent getting stronger as mine fades..” She inhaled, quickly and deeply, snapping her eyes shut as a rage-filled shudder reverberated through her entire body, curling her hands into tightly held fists to quell the anger.

“I have to reject her,” she finally whispered, shoulders slumping as the rage dissipated within her like a popped balloon, leaving nothing but an empty ache in its wake. “I have to reject what’s mine. It’s the only way.”

She slowly rose from the couch, having said everything she needed to say. Her confession over, it didn’t leave Emily feeling redeemed, just defeated.

“You want my advice,” Hotch called out to her, waiting until she stopped, turned her head back towards him, her face in profile. “We both know this isn’t as one-sided as you’re making out to be. Fight for her, Emily.”

“And if I lose?”

He leaned forward, taking Emily‘s half-filled glass off the table and downing the remainder of its contents. “Isn’t that better than ceding the war before the first battle’s even been fought?”

“Thanks, Hotch.” She forced a smile onto her lips, shaking her softly as she walked out the door. “Fucking profilers.”

**

It would have been easier to just run. That’s all Emily could think as she drove home through morning rush hour. It would have been faster to run home. But, she’d been burning the candle at both ends lately, and driving gave her time to think about Hotch’s words. It wasn’t the idea of fighting for JJ that gave Emily comfort, and as discomforting as it was to know that Hotch saw right through all her carefully constructed walls, he was always there for her. In his own weird, werewolf kind of way.

The elevator dinged quietly and Emily breathed a heavy sigh of relief, finally making it home. All she thought about were the three days off in a row Hotch had ordered the entire team to take, three days she planned to do nothing but sleep. Then, Emily turned the corner to her apartment..

And froze in her tracks.

JJ sat on the floor next to the door to Emily’s apartment, dressed in jeans, a lavender blouse Emily would swear was hers, and a jacket that was definitely Emily‘s. JJ sat with her legs stretched out before her, one ankle over the other, a book in her hands as she read. Next to her left hip sat Emily‘s go-bag, which explained where JJ had gotten Emily‘s clothes but not why she was wearing them. Hearing Emily approach, JJ lifted her head, lips pulling into a soft smile.

“Hey,” JJ said, moving up onto her feet, dusting her backside off with a hand.

“What..” Emily shook her head, not quite believing her eyes, too stunned to do anything else but stare. “What are you doing here?”

“I..” She tilted her head slightly, peering up at Emily through slightly squinted eyes. “I wanted to make sure you were okay. Things got kinda crazy.”

“Yeah,” Emily chuckled to herself, embarrassed at her own behavior. “Sorry about that. I’m not normally like that.”

“I know.”

“Would you like to come in?”

“If that’s okay.”

“Yeah.” Emily found the synaptic connection to make her legs move, fishing her keys from her pocket, nervously sliding it into the lock. “I’d offer to make breakfast but I’m pretty certain I don’t have anything that’s actually food in my refrigerator.”

“That’s okay. My Mom brought over dinner last night,” JJ paused, sticking out her tongue as she placed a hand on her stomach. “I’ll have to not eat for a week to keep it from showing up on my ass.”

Emily refrained from making a comment regarding said ass and how it looked perfectly fine to Emily. Instead, she stepped into her apartment, thankful she’d attempted to clean, not expecting guests in, well, ever. She set her coat on a stool before entering the kitchen.

“You want something to drink? I have..” Opening the refrigerator, she winced at the empty shelves and half-filled take-out containers, a lone bottle of synthetic. “Um.. Water.”

“No, I’m fine. Thanks.” JJ stood at the entrance of the kitchen, leaning a shoulder against the doorjamb as she tucked her hands into her pockets, gazing about Emily’s apartment. “Emily?” JJ waited until Emily turned her eyes towards her, the heat building in her cheeks as she tried not to blush. “I got a strange call from Hotch this morning.”

Eyes practically rolling into the back of her head, Emily groaned.

“Yeah,” JJ fake-smiled. “He said for me to re-read pages 47 through 52, then he gave me a list of magic-infused detergents and where I could buy them.”

“God, Jayj, I’m sorry,” Emily said, shaking her head. It explained the clothes. The way JJ smelled, like she’d done nothing for the past several hours but shower. Even the scent of Will was nothing more than intimation.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I don’t know,” Emily blushed, eyes darting towards the floor, doing anything but look at JJ. “I didn’t want to seem like I was..”

“Imposing?” JJ finished. She stepped into the kitchen, walking towards Emily until they stood a foot apart. “I agreed to this. Remember? If I’m doing something that’s driving you crazy, and I mean crazy in a rip a guy’s head off kind of way, you have to tell me. Okay?” She reached out, gently tugging on the bottom of Emily’s jacket. “Now, is there anything else I’m doing that’s making you insane?”

Emily dared herself to reach up, brush the backs of her knuckles across JJ’s cheek. Watched as JJ’s irises dilated just a fraction at Emily’s touch, felt the heat rise within her a half degree. Eyes lazily sliding closed, Emily inhaled deeply. For the first time in weeks, all she smelled was just JJ. “Anything?”

“Well..”

“Stay with me,” Emily whispered. She leaned in closer, gently placing the side of her nose to JJ‘s temple, inhaling a little longer. “Just for a little while.”

**

Having JJ with her, in her own space, calmed Emily more than Hotch’s liquor or the tea she fixed for the both of them ever would. They sat in a comfortable silence, Emily on the couch, JJ on the loveseat, each reading a book. Eventually, Emily fell asleep, the past couple days finally catching up with her. When JJ crawled onto the couch with her, stretching her body flush to Emily’s, sandwiching herself between Emily and the couch, head on Emily’s shoulder, it felt like two puzzle pieces slotting together.

Hours later, Emily felt it, probably before JJ did - the slowly rising temperature of JJ’s skin, along with her rising heartbeat. The way her hand drifted along Emily’s torso, finding that space between the bottom of Emily’s shirt and the top of her jeans, fingertips gently circling the tiny space of skin revealed. Those first little wisps of arousal.

“Jayj,” Emily quietly mumbled. “You don’t have to do this.”

“Do what?” JJ smiled, drifting her fingers over Emily’s stomach, tracing down the line of Emily’s zipper, fingers warmly slipping down the swell of Emily’s crotch. “Or this?”

Emily inhaled deeply at the sudden and hard thudding of her heart, the trembling deep within the pit of her stomach.

“Or did you mean this?” JJ teased. She lifted her head, just enough to run her tongue flatly along the pulse point of Emily’s neck, before suckling, nibbling with her teeth.

“Fuck,” Emily grunted, eyes flying open as her mouth went slack, leg twitching hard like a dog getting its belly scratched. “I thought..” she paused, licking her lips. “You read the book?”

JJ removed her lips from Emily’s neck, moving her face until they were eye to eye. “I did,” she said with hooded and smoky eyes, rolling her lower lip into her mouth. “I also read I could make you come from just doing that. I wanted to see if it was true.”

“JJ,” Emily purred. “You know the story about Pandora?”

JJ giggled. “Are you saying you want me to open your box?” Then, she drove her face back down, lips connecting to Emily’s neck once more, fingers working hurriedly on the button of Emily’s fly.

Sex with JJ was good, hell, sex with JJ was fantastic. But it wasn’t what Emily expected when she found JJ on her front doorstep. All Emily had really wanted was to spend some time in JJ’s company, without all the strings of work or JJ’s family. She definitely hadn’t been expecting this. Wanted? Yes. Expected? No. And JJ didn’t just push Emily towards the edge, she shoved her, hard and fast. Before JJ’s fingers found Emily’s sex, already, Emily was keening. That first paroxysm hitting her runaway train hard.

Then, as JJ’s fingers fumbled with Emily’s zipper for better access, JJ’s phone rang. That irritating buzzing sound cut like a chainsaw through the thickening haze between them. JJ ignored it the first time, enjoying the feel of Emily beneath her, writhing and wriggling as JJ sucked her neck, making sure to leave the world‘s largest hickey before Emily‘s vampire healing erased it. The second time, JJ felt compelled to at least pull the device from her back pocket and see who’d called.

“Fuck,” she grunted, pulling her lips from Emily’s neck. And it took everything Emily had to not fist her hands in JJ’s hair and pull the woman back onto her.

“I’m sorry, Emily. I have to get this,” JJ said sheepishly, removing her hand from Emily’s jeans, wiping her slickened fingers on her own jeans as she pulled herself into a seated position. “Mom? What’s wrong?”

Those three words were like an Olympic sized swimming pool of ice water dumped onto Emily’s raging libido. Emily lifted herself, maneuvering until she could sit upright.

“No, Mom. I’m fine. I’m..” She glanced sideways. “With Emily. No. She’s not feeding off me. We’re..” Emily had to smile at the sudden blush painting JJ’s cheeks. JJ turned her face fully towards Emily, returning her smile. Then, she reached, fingers wrapping over Emily’s. “She’s my friend. Okay, Mom. I’ll be there in a bit.”

Closing the device before sliding it back into her pocket, JJ released Emily’s hand, then ran both hands up her face and into her hair. “Fucking fuck on a fuck-cycle.” She pulled her hands back down, sliding them off her chin. “Are you sure you can’t compel people? Because, right now, I’d really like you to make my parents go home.”

“That bad, huh?” Emily said with a bemused grin.

“I love them. I really do. But, ever since I was Selected, they’ve been.. hovering. Between them and Will, I just..” she sighed raggedly, slumping forward, elbows on her knees.

Emily placed her hand on JJ’s back, drawing comforting circles. “They’re trying to protect you. I can respect that.”

“I’m not a little girl, anymore. I can protect myself. And I don’t need protecting from you.” JJ lifted her head, turned her gaze towards Emily. “But, I guess, you’d understand that more than anyone.”

“JJ..”

“I feel like I’m being torn in two. When I’m with them, I really want to be that person they see me as. I know that JJ. I’m comfortable in her skin. And then, I’m with you.” She raised her hand, palm to Emily’s cheek, thumb tracing over Emily’s lips. “It’s strange and different and so new it terrifies me. Because I like the way I feel when I’m with you. I like who I am when I’m with you.”

Emily wanted to say something, but there were no words compared to the ones she’d just heard. JJ had encapsulated everything Emily felt. There were still doubts, anxieties, fears, but they were smaller now than they had been before. Emily shifted her head, bringing her lips to the center of JJ’s palm, kissing gently. When JJ leaned in, Emily bridged the distance, their lips meeting in the middle. The kiss was gentle, soft, almost chaste, an expression of affection, understanding.

Just when JJ’s heart began to skip a little faster, skin warming, she pulled away, forehead pressing gently to Emily’s. “How do I tell them,” she whispered, almost panting. “How you do this to me?”

“You tell them..” Emily kissed the corner of JJ’s mouth then brought her lips up, kissing JJ’s forehead. “In your own way. On your own time.”

“What about you?”

Emily chuckled. “I’m not going anywhere.”

JJ leaned in for another kiss, the fingers on Emily’s face trembling softly. She’d run out of words, heart swelling, chest squeezing at the sudden emotions filling her, knowing Emily meant what she said and feeling undeserving of such compassion directed solely at her. So, she kissed Emily, kissed with everything she had.

“You..” Emily panted, after she’d forced their lips apart. “Should go. Before we both do something..”

“We’ll enjoy immensely,” JJ purred.

“JJ..” Emily playfully warned.

“I know, I know,” she whimpered, pushing herself away from Emily, up and onto her feet. “I’ve got a dinner date with the king and queen of cock-blocking.”

Emily laughed, rising up from the couch to walk JJ to the door. “You know, some of us are going out for drinks tonight. You’re always welcome to come.”

“While the idea of getting completely hammered sounds appealing, especially after my Mom or Dad passive-aggressively ask if Will and I have set a date, I don’t think tonight’s such a good idea. Rain check?”

“Of course,” Emily watched as JJ nodded her goodbye before turning around and opening the door. And Emily couldn’t stand the thought of watching her leave. “JJ?”

The woman practically spun on her feet. “Yeah?”

Emily grabbed her keys off the table in the hall. She pulled one off the ring, holding it up for JJ. “Anytime you need to get away. You’re always welcome here.”

“Emily..”

“I’m not asking you to, like, pull up with a U-Haul or anything. I just..” She leaned, pressing her lips to JJ’s forehead, inhaling deeply. “Today was nice,” she whispered. “I’d like to do it again, sometime.”

“So would I,” JJ whispered back, her eyes going dark and heated as her gaze shifted to Emily’s lips. “Maybe next time, I can finish what I started.”

**