the state of wanting to do or have something very much, especially something interesting or enjoyable
She had heard about it from Spence.
Not that she was actively fishing for it. It was just one of those slow days (what may be considered “slow” in their profession is probably a usual day for others) where serial killers all over the country must have simultaneously decided to take a vacation. That meant a day of writing reports and doing consultations. That also meant idle chatter in the bullpen.
And it just so happened that the topic of Fiona Duncan had been brought up.
JJ remembered her from Spencer’s arraignment. It was a tense time for all of them. The timing and setting weren’t exactly the most conducive to creating new friendships, but they had been briefly acquainted. From the way she handled the courtroom, the woman was quite intimidating — no doubt a very useful trait in handling uncooperative clients and impressionable juries. And from what she’d heard from Spence, she was very resolute. Even though they were at a disadvantage in fighting the charge, she had been ready and willing to fight tooth and nail for his freedom. He suspected that a big part of that had to do with Emily’s faith in his innocence.
Fiona was introduced as Emily’s old friend, but apparently — a little something from the grapevine — Emily hadn’t been completely forthcoming about the nature of their relationship. Well, past relationship. Not that she was obligated to disclose anything to them. And as they’d already experienced first-hand, the woman was a treasure chest of secrets.
JJ hadn’t suspected anything at first. She thought they were close from how familiar they were with each other. They were friends after all. Women touch each other all the time.
But she remembered, suddenly clearer than before, how she had seen how tense Emily was, how her hands were shaking in her willful attempt to stop picking at her thumbs, in a little interlude in a hallway that day. (In Emily fashion, she had separated herself from the others. As their unit chief, she had to be strong for them. Only alone could she allow herself a moment to yield to her anxiety.) JJ had been looking for her, and upon seeing her state wanted nothing more than to engulf the woman in a hug, maybe take her trembling hands in her own. (Just as friends do, of course, she thought.) But then Fiona had approached Emily first, had done it all first, and had put a hand on Emily’s lower back, murmuring things she couldn’t hear.
She observed as Emily collected herself, straightened her spine, her countenance determined again. Fiona had left first to head back to the courtroom. Then Emily turned her head, as if sensing JJ for the first time, found her in the crowd and gave her a relieved smile. They went inside together.
It was neither the time nor the place to speculate, but they could do it now. She could do it now. The whole ordeal was over. And for some inexplicable reason, she wanted to know more.
Unawaringly, her eyes drifted upwards to the office across the bullpen. In the background, she vaguely registered Tara saying that she totally called it, and Luke’s unbelieving, “No way! Prentiss!?”
“…Actually, it’s not that much of a surprise. In the United States alone, 19 million Americans reported to having engaged in same-sex sexual behavior, and 25.6 million acknowledge feeling same-sex attraction. And that’s just an estimate…”
JJ finished her reports and was about to submit them along with the others’ (she somehow became the assigned submission mule for the day). She softly knocked on the doorframe before entering the unit chief’s office.
Emily raised her gaze from the file in front of her and smiled. “Hey.”
JJ returned a smile of her own. “Hey.”
Emily nodded once upon seeing the files in JJ’s hands before going back to her work.
The curiosity that had been nagging JJ all day hadn’t left; she even briefly considered going to Penelope’s den to make use of her research skills (and JJ knew Pen would be thrilled to hear all about it), but why wait when she could have the answers right from the source?
“So,” JJ started as she placed the files on the tray on the desk, “Spence’s lawyer…”
“Hm? What about her?” Emily looked up from the papers on her desk — her pen in mid-sign — slightly parting her lips in that familiar expectant look that JJ found to be unique to her.
“I heard that you…” She couldn’t bring herself to form the words, an eyebrow raised, waving her fingers in a vague gesture towards Emily and tilting her head instead with a curious expression and a teasing smile.
Emily stared at her, bemused, for a beat, then she exhaled with a short laugh. “Oh. Um, yeah.”
At this, JJ seated herself on an arm of one of the chairs in front of the desk. “You were together?”
“We were. We met when our parents were stationed in Italy. It was a long time ago…”
“I didn’t know that about you, Em.”
Emily looked down again. She looked slightly self-conscious.
“Emily,” JJ called encouragingly, ducking her head to meet the brunette’s eyes. “You can tell me anything. You know that, right?” If Emily was feeling embarrassed, JJ wanted her to know that she had no reason to be, not with her.
It was an invitation. In another time, she knew Emily would have clammed up and not said anything more, changed the subject perhaps, but the Emily that returned from death’s door was one who tried to share parts of herself more to her friends. JJ understood that it was Emily’s way of showing them that she trusted them, and in return, that they could trust her, too.
“It wasn’t that I was hiding it. It just… didn’t really come up.”
JJ continued looking at Emily expectantly, eager to hear more.
“Anyway, it was really a long time ago…” Emily laughed nervously, avoiding JJ’s eyes. JJ could tell she was itching to end the conversation. When Emily looked up again to see JJ waiting with the same expression as before, she begged, “Jayje…”
“Fine,” JJ acquiesced, but she admitted that it was fun to see the unflappable unit chief and former undercover agent squirm, even just for a few seconds. She stood up and walked towards the open door, but not before turning to Emily a final time with a playful look. “But wait till Pen hears about this.”
Emily laughed, genuinely this time. “I’m sure I’ll never hear the end of it.”
Another day, another dollar.
They were on the jet, relaxing after a case. It took them five days to catch the killer. All five days were spent poring over details they might have missed and chasing leads, some leading them nowhere. The case finally culminated in a standoff where they were successfully able to talk the UNSUB down from hurting his hostage. Certainly, it wasn’t anything new to the group. God knows they have had many similar cases in the past, but it didn’t make it any easier or lighter.
Luke and Matt were seated across each other in a booth over a game of cards. Spencer was asleep on the couch at the back of the jet, while Tara was hunched over the table writing on her notepad and listening to a recording through her earphones. She was writing down notes after her interview with the UNSUB. Beside her was Rossi with an ever-present glass of scotch in his hand. And across from them, Emily and JJ were seated beside each other. The unit chief’s head was resting on JJ’s shoulder as she dozed. It was a quiet flight.
JJ felt Emily shiver beside her with a soft moan. Without second thought, she took the suit jacket that fell onto Emily’s lap and placed it securely around Emily’s shoulders, looping an arm around her unit chief’s back to rub her arm and give her warmth.
Rossi watched on with a smile.
“Who wants a refill?”
A couple of them raised their hands before Luke left to replenish their drinks.
It was a Friday night, and they figured that it would be the ideal time to unwind after an exhausting week — most of it spent in another state. It was good to be home.
When Luke came back with a fresh set of drinks, the conversations continued. They talked about everything but work — Spencer with his statistics and random facts concerning alcohol as always, Penelope updating them with the newest office gossip and not forgetting the occasional jab towards the “newbie,” Tara teasing Luke and making jokes about his mother or his father… It was a good night.
Without their knowing, hours were lost to conversations and music and dancing and drinks and laughter. Eventually, Matt stood up, indicating that he had to leave first. It was getting a little late, and all of them understood he had to be home for the kids. Rossi followed not long after, Reid tagging along with him. A couple of drinks more, and the rest of them were starting to leave, too.
JJ stood up from her seat next to Emily, but lost her footing when she was halfway out the table. In what felt like milliseconds, she felt Emily’s hands hold her upper arms in an effort to keep her still and steady.
Emily was so close; JJ could feel Emily’s breath fan her face. The lights were purposefully dim, but she could make out that Emily’s eyes were bright and slightly dazed. JJ saw a flash of Emily’s easy laughter from earlier in her mind’s eye.
JJ shook herself out of her reverie. “Yeah, I’m fine. Thanks.”
“You sure?” As she said that, Emily dropped one hand to JJ’s waist.
Emily’s face was flushed. From the alcohol, JJ surmised. (She remembered Tara’s Oookay, Emily, that’s enough, as the woman in question tossed back her nth glass.) As she continued to walk out of her seat, the hand from her waist moved to her lower back. JJ swore for a moment that she could feel everything. She heard Penelope’s voice in the distance calling for them to catch up. Then an arm was suddenly around her shoulders — Emily’s — bringing her closer to a warm body.
They walked together, side by side, perhaps a bit unsteadily. Halfway through, Emily muttered a joke at which JJ laughed. Later, when JJ looks back on this memory, she would remember how, when she looked to her side, she could see Emily’s relaxed smile, cheeks rosy, eyes twinkling, how this seemed to light a candle in the pit of her stomach. She would vividly remember the feeling of a full breast against her side, how it brushed against her arm as they moved closely together.
As for the joke, she couldn’t remember a word.
There will always be cases like this. They all knew it. It’s basically part of the job description. Some cases hit them harder than others. It just so happened that the target was JJ this time.
She was standing alone in the conference room when Emily found her. It was the only place where she could be alone at this hour. The team had finished debriefing on the jet on the way back, and everybody immediately went home the moment they set foot on the ground. Not Emily, of course. She was always the last to leave.
JJ could feel her eyes water. She wasn’t going to cry, not here. It wasn’t the place. She tried to breathe through the tightness in her throat.
There was no hesitation as Emily came closer and wrapped her in her arms. When she pulled back after a moment to graze her fingers on JJ’s cheeks, looking at her directly, JJ let her walls come down with a shaky sigh.
Emily just kept her close. Her arms were still holding her, but it wasn’t an embrace. JJ’s face was neither buried in Emily’s neck nor pressed to her shoulder. Instead, JJ could feel Emily’s cheek pressed closely against her own, the hands that held her face tenderly before were now clutched around hers softly between their bodies.
They stood there for minutes, eyes closed. They were so close together; JJ could feel Emily’s heartbeat against the back of her hand where it was pressed against Emily’s chest. She struggled to match her own agitated breathing to Emily’s calm rhythm.
It was moments later when she was able to breathe easier, like there weren’t any thorns around her throat, and she turned her head to Emily’s, right as Emily turned to her. Their noses brushed, and surprisingly, there was no awkwardness, just soft laughter to break the silence. JJ would wonder at the implications of that in another time.
They didn’t pull away. They put their foreheads together, breathing slowly together. Their hands still hadn’t let go of each other.
“Come with me.”
They both knew it wasn’t something she could take home.
JJ accepted the offer with a nod. She felt Emily’s hands squeeze hers one last time before Emily pulled away, but she didn’t entirely really. Her hand was still held securely in her unit chief’s as she was gently dragged away from where they stood. She stared at their interlocked fingers as Emily pushed open the conference room doors, took her bag from her office, turned the lights off, closed her office door, and breezed down the stairs to the bullpen to JJ’s desk. JJ was still staring when Emily tugged her hand, making her suddenly remember where they were. With her free hand, she took the bag from where she left it propped on her desk. And when she looked up again, Emily jerked her head towards the glass doors with a small smile.
They didn’t talk much on the way home. The drive was uneventful. JJ spent it mostly looking out at the buildings they passed by. At red lights, Emily’s hand would let go of the wheel to give hers a comforting squeeze.
When they arrived at Emily’s apartment, it was late. They held hands again the moment they left the car, only letting go when Emily had to fumble for her keys or disable the alarm.
They passed by Emily’s kitchen without a word, and JJ was surprised. She had expected that she’d be offered a drink, that this night would be one of those nights where she’d bare her soul through words, where Emily would rub her back and tell her, This isn’t your fault, as she cried. When she heard Come with me, she hadn’t expected Emily to take her directly to her bedroom — she had never been there before, not that she had any reason to be — hadn’t expected Emily to direct her to the bed.
“Lie down,” Emily said. So she did.
She was staring at the ceiling as Emily took off JJ’s shoes, then taking off her own, before falling back on the bed beside her.
This time, when she heard Come here, she got what she expected.
It was Emily’s arms around her. It was Emily holding her close, in an embrace this time. She was no longer at the conference room, no longer standing still, where anyone could walk in at any time. Her throat started to constrict again, her breaths getting shorter. She felt the wetness on her cheeks before she realized she had been crying.
At first, Emily was just holding her. Then her arms moved to rub up and down her back. Then her hands moved again, this time tracing the length of JJ’s arms soothingly. Then her hands found JJ’s in a soft touch, opening the blonde’s hand and separating her fingers where it was clenched tightly between them again — but on its own unlike before. JJ felt Emily caress her palm as she sobbed, skim the back of her hands with her fingers. She felt Emily’s hands find her arm again, lightly touching until they reached her neck, her fingers at the back of her ear near her jaw, softly grazing the delicate skin there. (In another time, sometime in the future, when Emily’s fingers reach that spot, she would shiver for a different reason.)
She was still crying when Emily’s hands touched her face, when her fingers tenderly wiped her tears away. She was still crying when Emily’s fingers threaded through her hair, combing the strands away from her face, with Emily whispering, “I want to see you,” as she stroked her scalp quietly, to the short hairs at the back of her neck.
By the time Emily pressed her forehead against hers, she wasn’t crying anymore. When minutes later, Emily pulled her out of bed and ushered her to the en suite bathroom with a change of clothes, she was feeling lighter.
She came out of the bathroom in a loose gray shirt and blue shorts — Emily’s — and her face washed. Her nose was still red, and she knew that she would wake up with puffy eyes tomorrow. There was a glass of water ready in Emily’s hand.
After her, Emily washed up and changed, too, and when she came out to the bedroom, JJ was sitting on the side of the bed with an unsure expression.
The glass was empty on the nightstand.
JJ chose to break the silence. She sniffed. “I like to sleep on the left side.”
At that, Emily softly exhaled as if in relief, with a soft smile. “You’re lucky I’m an any-side kind of girl, Agent Jareau.” She approached the bed with a small laugh that — in JJ’s mind — seemed to warm the room just a little bit. “Now scoot!”
They fell in together on Emily’s bed, finding the heart to laugh even after the events of the night, especially after the events of the night. They were facing each other again, a few inches of distance between them, looking at each other silently as if reluctantly gauging the other’s reaction to what was on each of their minds.
JJ watched as Emily seemed to fight a battle within herself, uncertainty first clouding her eyes before she saw the glint in them again, like she had made her decision. JJ felt a lightness on her shoulders and chest as she saw Emily open her arms to her, inviting her to come closer. And she did.
When she woke up in the middle of dawn the next day, she marveled at the contrast of this new softness instead of a familiar coarseness, this gentleness instead of hardness. A woman’s touch. Perhaps, in a different time, if only she weren’t in a half-conscious daze, she might have felt panic, a fear of the unknown, at the Pandora’s box whose lid they had unknowingly tilted overnight. But she simply closed her heavy-lidded eyes, not wanting to leave the cocoon of comfortable heat and freedom from hurt and pain and the depravity of the world that was Emily’s arms and Emily’s bed. If she could, she would never leave this place.
JJ pulled the blanket that had been pushed down to their waists around them tighter, all the while careful not to untangle Emily’s arms around her, before burrowing into Emily’s warmth once more.
She walked out of the bedroom gingerly, making the effort to not make a sound, to not disturb the tranquility that she had found in this place since last night. She had woken up briefly — thankfully not by a shrill alarm clock — when she felt Emily extract herself from the bed, but was promptly encouraged to go back to sleep with a brush on the cheek, and JJ let her body decide. When she woke again, she was alone.
As she approached the kitchen, the smell of breakfast filled the air. Emily was busying herself pouring coffee from a carafe into a cup.
Emily looked up at JJ and smiled. “Good morning. I hope you like French toast.”
JJ took a seat on one of the tall chairs around the kitchen island, where she could see two plates of French toast with maple syrup and blueberries. She looked up and muttered a small Thank you when Emily slid a cup of coffee towards her plate.
“So,” Emily started as she sat down in front of JJ, blowing on her coffee before taking a sip, “how are you feeling?”
“Better. Thank you.”
They beamed at each other brightly and freely. Maybe JJ should have been surprised at how there was no awkwardness or tension from last night, but she wasn’t. It had always been this way with Emily.
They ate together in the early morning, both of them still wearing their pajamas from last night.
“Mm, this is delicious, Em,” JJ said, her voice muffled from the French toast she basically stuffed in her mouth, a splash of syrup trickling from the corner of her mouth in the process.
“Good, because that’s one of the only things I can make.” Emily chuckled. “You have something on your…” Without giving it a thought, she swiped the syrup from the corner of JJ’s lip with her thumb.
JJ inwardly froze at the contact. They had touched each other countless times prior to this moment, but somehow, this felt more intimate. She figured that probably none of her surprise showed on her expression, as Emily continued what she was doing like nothing was amiss. Her heart began beating rapidly as Emily removed her hand, and JJ watched in anticipation at what she was about to do with it. She could feel her cheeks flush at the sight of Emily putting her thumb — with the syrup from her lip — in her mouth.
But to JJ’s dismay, the sight didn’t stay for very long. Not that she wanted it to.
Emily interrupted her train of thought. JJ didn’t realize she had been staring absently at Emily since her fingers left her face. She cleared her throat.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” She continued eating from her plate in the hopes of diverting the conversation. “I could have this every day.”
JJ swore her heart skipped a beat at that.
“But unfortunately this secret recipe is mine and mine only.” Emily’s eyes twinkled mischievously. “I need to be good at something, you know.”
Both of them finished their breakfast. Emily stood up first to get their plates and wash them in the sink — that was after Emily declined JJ’s insistence that she do the washing — while JJ went back to the bedroom. She took a fresh set of clothes from her bag after having recalled where she left it last night in their haste to reach the bed.
She stood up from her crouching position on the floor, her clothes over one arm, and walked towards the bathroom. She caught her reflection as she passed by a full-length mirror, and she stopped where she stood.
As she predicted, her eyes were puffy from the night before. Some strands of her uncombed blonde hair were sticking out in places, and for a moment, she felt embarrassed at having appeared in front of Emily in such a state. But otherwise, she felt relaxed, and it showed on her appearance. She could make out the creases on her shirt from how she slept on it overnight.
She realized, after having forgotten, that she was still wearing Emily’s clothes, and then it all washed over her. She was wearing Emily’s clothes, slept on Emily’s bed with Emily, spent the night at Emily’s apartment, and had breakfast with Emily.
JJ could suddenly feel her heart rate picking up again.
She could see the bed behind her in the mirror, and she abruptly wondered if Fiona, too, had slept on the same bed. With Emily, like she did. She felt a spike of unfamiliar jealousy rush through her and tried to squash the thought.
She heard footsteps just outside the door — Emily must have finished washing the dishes — and JJ rushed to the bathroom, shaking herself internally.
Just like last night, JJ got ready first with Emily following after. It was an unspoken agreement that they will drive to the office together. JJ’s car was still at the Academy parking garage, and she didn’t really feel the need to go back to her house for now. She still had enough clean clothes in her go bag, and she figured she could just repack after today if they were lucky enough not to have to leave the state.
The drive was lighter this time, unlike the previous evening. There was no underlying tension, no need for a necessary silence. They spoke of mundane things, of Sergio (who was still at Pen’s), and of last night.
“Hmm?” Emily turned her head to face her quickly before turning her eyes back to the road.
“Thank you for last night. For… this morning. For everything, really.” JJ looked at Emily, wanting her to feel the words, how she really meant them. “You really didn’t have to go through all this trouble.”
“Jayje, I told you. I’m always here if you need me. Besides,” Emily looked at her again before continuing, “I wanted to.”
If you ever want someone to talk to, know that I’m always here for you. It was a promise Emily had made to her before, and words JJ knew intimately.
JJ smiled gratefully at Emily, and she felt a lightness in her chest again as Emily smiled back.
When they arrived at the parking garage, Emily parked at her usual spot, and they got out of the car at the same time. They took their bags from the trunk and walked together to the elevators.
They stood in silence, waiting patiently for the elevator to arrive. When it did, they were still alone.
They got in together. They could see themselves reflected in front of them as the elevator doors closed.
JJ couldn’t tell exactly what changed, but there was awkwardness in the silence this time. They were close but not touching, unlike the day before. They didn’t hold hands on the way to the car and on the way to the elevators. At red lights, Emily didn’t reach over to squeeze her hand. It was as if their newfound closeness from yesterday was over the moment they stepped out of Emily’s apartment. JJ tried to wrangle over the feeling of disappointment in her gut.
JJ steeled herself and looked forward, seeing their reflections again. They made a nice picture, she thought: two women dressed in pantsuits neatly pressed. She felt her chest tightening as the image of the both of them dressed in wrinkled pajamas just this morning flashed in her mind.
She only noticed then that Emily had been staring at her through their reflections, too. She couldn’t make out the enigmatic expression on her face. At the very least, JJ thought Emily looked… unsure.
Then their eyes met in the glossy elevator doors right before it opened. Three agents they didn’t personally know filtered in, and the uneasy silence that previously filled the elevator was gone as the agents chattered, not minding their audience.
Finally, they reached the sixth floor. Emily and JJ walked side by side, to then through the glass doors of the BAU, and as they were approaching her desk, JJ felt the foreboding sense of finality fill her.
As if sensing her distress, she felt Emily’s hand cup her elbow comfortingly. JJ realized at that moment that it wasn’t the first time that Emily had reassured her with just a touch, not knowing yet that it wouldn’t be the last, either. After last night, these little touches felt like something more.
There were no words, nothing at all, not this time. Just a small smile from each of their faces, as if to give the other encouragement for the rest of their day. Emily traced her hand from JJ’s elbow to her forearm, almost reaching her fingers before pulling away.
JJ had to stop herself from reaching out and grabbing Emily’s hand. She didn’t have the courage. She could only stand there and watch as Emily turned and walked away, up the stairs to her office.
A deliberate throat-clearing made her remember where she was. She looked to where the source of the sound was to find Luke sporting a knowing smirk and a quirked eyebrow.
She shot him with what she hoped to be a baleful look before sitting down and pulling out her files for the day.