Fandom: Criminal Minds
Word count: 4,739
Summary: While solving a case, Emily & JJ are forced to take a closer look at their relationship.
The day had been grueling. Even Emily, who was somewhat used to the role of being the bearer of bad news, felt absolutely worn out by the time they arrived at their final destination, the house of Rod and Helena Thompson.
Stepping tiredly out of the black SUV, the brunette again took notice of JJ's resigned posture and wondered if they should've taken that break earlier after all; it was truly exhausting to go through the same ordeal of interviewing the grieving families over and over again, to see the desperation and sadness in the family's eyes, and knowing that the news they brought probably only added to it.
But Emily wasn't stupid. She was perfectly aware that JJ would take any expressions of concern as questioning her professionalism, so instead of asking pointless and inane questions, Emily simply settled for smiling reassuringly before knocking on the big, mahogany door in front of them. Taking a deep breath, Emily prepared herself for what was hopefully the final challenge of the day.
The door was opened by a robust, middle-aged man who looked like he hadn't slept in weeks. For the fourth time that day, Emily made the usual presentations and asked if they could possibly ask some more questions.
"Haven't you people harassed us enough already?" Rod Thompson asked wearily, but stepped aside anyway, letting the women enter.
Helena Thompson stood in their elegantly furnished living room, a wild and scared look in her eyes. Emily guessed that the woman had heard who they were and what their business was, so she only nodded politely.
"What do you want?" Mr. Thompson joined his wife, cautiously eyeing the FBI agents standing in the middle of his house.
"I'm afraid we have some bad news." Fourth time and it still wasn't getting any easier.
Mrs. Thompson let out a terrified shriek while her husband held on to her tighter, his eyes widening in shock.
"Murdered?" The look on Mr, Thompson's face was one of pure horror.
"I'm afraid so." Emily couldn't imagine how the parents must have felt at that moment, and she hoped she would never have to know.
"Was your daughter acting any differently before Monday? Any new hobbies or friends?" Emily asked as compassionately as she could, fighting the urge to cross her arms defensively when Mrs. Thompson looked sharply at her.
"She was fine." It was Mr. Thompson who answered. "She was back to her old self again, you know, after the...the..." His voice cracked, and he had to look away.
"I'm sorry, but why are you here exactly? Shouldn't you be out there, looking for the monster who did this to Cheryl?" Mrs. Thompson raised her voice, and Emily could hardly blame her for being so emotional.
JJ stepped to Emily's side, gesturing calmly with her hands.
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Thompson. We're only doing our job. And it is our job to find him."
Emily didn't see it coming. If she had, she most certainly would've reacted sooner.
Mrs. Thompson took a few rapid steps and slapped JJ across the face, hard. Emily lunged forward and wedged herself between the two women, facing the enraged mother, her hand subconsciously grabbing JJ's wrist behind her.
"Well, why don't you leave us alone and go find my daughter's killer then?" Mr. Thompson pulled his distraught wife away from the two agents, struggling to keep a hold of her.
"Darling, calm down," he begged, his voice heavy and full of heartfelt sadness. Finally, Mrs. Thompson seemed to burn out of energy; she slumped forward, clung to her husband desperately, and wept.
"I'm sorry," he offered weakly, looking a tad embarrassed.
"It's okay," Emily assured, feeling JJ pull away from her. She glanced behind her and saw the blonde leaving the room, soon followed by the sound of the front door opening and closing. Self-consciously clearing her throat, she turned back to the Thompsons.
"I'll leave my card. When you're ready, don't hesitate to call me." She placed the card on the table next to her and smiled an apologetic smile before making her way out of the house.
She found JJ standing next to the SUV, her back to the house, and her shoulders slouched in a defeated manner. Emily felt her heart break a little at the sight. She walked slowly to the blonde and placed a hand tentatively on her shoulder. Feeling the other woman tense, she simply gave JJ's shoulder a little squeeze and stepped to stand in front of her.
JJ was pinching the bridge of her nose, her entire being full of exhaustion. Assessing the situation, Emily threw her earlier restrictions out of the window and regarded the blonde determinedly.
"Let me see," Emily said, urging JJ to look at her.
JJ swatted the other agent's hand away, annoyed.
"Emily, I'm fine. Let's just go." The blonde turned her head away from her concerned colleague, but Emily was having none of that.
"JJ, cut the crap and let me have a look." Emily's voice didn't leave any room for negotiation, so JJ just sighed and turned back to the brunette.
Placing her hand under JJ's chin, Emily canted her head to the side and inspected the angry, red mark on the blonde's cheek.
"It's a little red. Shouldn't be anything too serious, though." She smiled encouragingly, and JJ's features softened a notch.
"Could we just go, please?" JJ asked, resigned, looking pleadingly at Emily. She looked innocent and lost, nothing like the tough FBI agent she usually was, and Emily felt a sudden need to shield the other woman from all the horrors of the world. She wanted to make sure no one ever hurt her ever again, as irrational as it sounded.
But JJ wasn't hers to protect. The press liaison was completely capable of taking care of herself, and she’d be absolutely appalled if she knew that someone thought she was in need of protection.
"Sure." Emily nodded.
She watched as JJ opened the truck door and climbed inside. Hesitating just for a few seconds, Emily quickly rounded the vehicle to the driver's side. Once she was inside, she laid her hands on the wheel and took a quick look at the woman in the passenger seat.
"You know, someone once hit me on the head with a table lamp."
JJ's head whipped around, and she stared at Emily, dumbfounded. There was a clear, red outline of a hand on her cheek now.
"Seriously?" JJ's eyes were like saucers. Emily's face remained serious.
"No, but would it make you feel better if I lied and said yes?" Emily cracked a smile, unable to keep a straight face.
JJ blinked a few times and then gave a small chuckle. "Sheesh." Shaking her head, she leaned back against the head-rest, momentarily forgetting her bad mood. To Emily it was like sunrise, and she felt warm for knowing that she'd succeeded in making JJ feel better.
The ringing of her cellphone distracted the brunette from her musings, and she snatched the phone from her belt, a small smile still lingering on her lips. It quickly faded away, however, when she heard Hotch's voice in her ear, explaining the latest turn of events.
JJ sensed the mood in the car shift, and she looked at Emily, locking eyes with her. Tilting her head in a silent question, JJ intently followed every tiny change in Emily's features, as if the information could somehow be interpreted and passed along that way.
"Yeah, we just finished. We'll be there as soon as we can." Emily finished the call and let out a long sigh.
"What is it?"
"We've got a new body," Emily answered flatly, already navigating the car back to the street. From the corner of her eye, she saw JJ's improving mood make a crash landing and cursed the incredibly lousy timing of Hotch's phone call.
It didn't surprise Emily that neither of them felt like talking on their way to the crime scene. Afternoon had already begun to turn into early evening, shadows growing steadily and the first street lamps glowing dimly before lighting up properly.
Eyeing the GPS monitor every now and then, Emily made sure they were heading in the right direction while all the while being painfully aware of the brooding agent next to her. She knew that JJ's current state of mind couldn't be all because of the new case; it'd been a difficult year for the blonde, and everything had, in a way, culminated with the Fredericksburg case a while back – a case that was exceptionally difficult for JJ.
The profound urge to console the other woman had been almost impossible for Emily to ignore back then, and she was fighting that same urge yet again when she glanced at JJ and took notice of the empty look on the other woman's face.
She opened her mouth to say something in order to break the silence that hung heavily around them, when the GPS lady suddenly chirped up and informed the agents that they were only a mile away from the intended destination. Within no time, Emily could see the flashing police lights in the distance and slowed down, inching the car next to its twin near the crime scene.
Rossi approached them when the two women stepped out of the vehicle, and together, they made their way to the crime scene tape and ducked underneath it.
"Charlotte Hemingway, 35. Not pretty," was all Rossi said, and Emily only nodded.
JJ walked a few feet behind her, so it was Emily who saw the body first. Her breath caught in her throat as her eyes landed on the body a few feet up in the air. Swirling around, she stepped in front of JJ who came to a sudden halt when the other agent crossed her path.
"Emily?" She frowned tiredly.
"Maybe it's better if you don't look, JJ." Emily knew it was absolutely pointless, but she had to try anyway.
"What are you talking about?" JJ's eyes flashed dangerously, and Emily knew the blonde thought she was belittling her.
Stepping around her, JJ left Emily standing in her wake, and the brunette slowly turned around. JJ had stopped abruptly, transfixed, her eyes on the body of a young woman who was hanging from a tree branch before her. JJ's hands were in tight fists, and Emily could tell she was shaking when she finally walked to stand beside the blonde.
The resemblance was uncanny; blonde, 30-ish, shoulder-length hair, smart-looking business suit, slender figure, beautiful features. Emily swallowed and looked away; the similarities causing a shiver go down her spine. Looking at JJ, she realized that the blonde's eyes were still fixed on the body, the look in them a mixture of bewilderment and impassivity.
"JJ?" Emily inquired quietly, but the other agent didn't seem to react in any way.
"This day just gets better and better," JJ suddenly muttered and turned on her heels, heading back to the cars. Emily followed her retreating form helplessly with her eyes and wished she could go after her without making a scene.
"Is she okay?" It was Hotch, and Emily turned back to their boss who had materialized next to her.
"Yeah." She tried to smile as confidently as she could. "A little altercation with a victim's family, but nothing to worry about."
"I see." Emily could tell Hotch didn't completely believe her, but he let it be.
"Definitely the same killer?" Emily asked when she was certain Hotch was done with the previous subject.
"Without a doubt. The note was the same again, and the forensics also found ladder imprints on the ground."
"It looks like the unsub's spinning out of control," Emily noted grimly and Hotch nodded in agreement.
"Two victims in three days. Doesn't look good."
They stood in silence and watched as the forensics personnel slowly lowered the body to the ground, and after the preliminary examination by the ME, the victim was zipped up in a black body bag. Rossi joined the two agents when the body was finally wheeled from the scene.
"The family has been notified, but there's no use for us to talk to them before morning," Rossi said, his impressive, Italian features somehow becoming more apparent in the bright police lights that were still flashing in the vicinity.
"I was thinking the same," Hotch agreed and loosened up his tie a little. "We also won't have the autopsy report on Charlotte Hemingway before morning, so we should call it a day."
Emily nodded and wished the two men goodnight, secretly relieved that she could go to the hotel and not think about the case for the next ten hours. And it really didn't have anything to do with the murdered women.
She found JJ already sitting in the passenger seat when she reached the SUV and hopped behind the wheel for the millionth time that day. The blonde glanced quickly at her and then turned back to stare out the side window. For a moment, Emily wondered if she should bring up what had happened at the crime scene, but then she realized how unbelievably tired and burned out she was. The last thing she wanted to do was to try another useless attempt at a supportive talk with her just as drained colleague. So, with a final look at the crime scene that was still buzzing with people, she turned the key in the ignition and let the whole matter drop.
Emotionally spent, Emily realized that she really would've needed that relaxation the previous night.
JJ twisted and turned in her large queen-sized bed, trying to find a comfortable position among the abundance of fluff and softness. She was tired beyond belief, but her subconscious had declared a war and had obviously decided to keep her awake as long as possible. Giving up with an annoyed sigh, she flopped on her back and stared at the ceiling which was just as generic as every other of the dozens and dozens of hotel room ceilings she'd seen during the past few years.
The drive to the hotel had been awkward to say the least, the knowledge of what had happened at the crime scene hanging heavily between them, but Emily hadn't said a word. After they'd signed in, the brunette had simply wished JJ a good night, before disappearing into the room next to hers.
Ready to sleep 24 hours straight, JJ had discarded her clothes in record time and was under the soft covers before the digital clock above the TV showed 9:30. Burying her head in the gigantic pillow, she'd let out a sigh of contentment and prepared herself to be whisked away to dream land and away from everything that had to do with the BAU.
Except, that never happened.
The clock showed 12:00 now, the red digits glowing in the dark, almost as if mocking her.
"Goddammit," she whispered in the darkness and buried her hands in her hair, fighting the tears of anger that threatened to spill over. There really was nothing worse than wanting to sleep when you weren't able to do so.
JJ had always been independent. She'd always solved her own problems, and she didn't expect, nor did she want, anyone else's help. Independence was a virtue to her, one of the characteristics she valued the most in herself, and that's why she mentally kicked herself when, fifteen minutes later, she found herself standing in the corridor outside of Emily's room.
She'd thought about it long and hard while haphazardly dressing. There was no way she'd go to Rossi or Hotch; that'd be like telling your father you're a failure. She could never take the embarrassment. And she couldn't go to Morgan or Reid either, because Reid would only gawk at her like she was talking Greek, and Morgan would probably suggest she get laid, or something equally bright.
So that left Emily. Because Emily got her. Plain and simple.
Fidgeting in the corridor, it finally hit her that Emily could actually be fast asleep for all she knew. The utter insanity of her antics finally registered with her, and, distressed, she leaned her back against the wall. And how wise was it anyway to force herself on the person she was harboring almost illicit feelings for, really?
Seconds turned into minutes, and finally JJ had had enough. Taking a determined step towards the door, she knocked softly, listening carefully for any signs of movement inside. She held her breath and fought the urge to flee to her own room while she still had time.
Finally, there was the sound of the lock being turned, and JJ swallowed in horror. Confused brown eyes peered at her for a second or two when the door cracked open, but then Emily seemed to realize who'd been knocking, and the door slid all the way open.
"JJ?" Emily's voice was uncertain, and JJ truly started doubting her earlier reasoning. With satisfaction, she took note that Emily was still wearing her work clothes, so at least, she hadn't woken the poor woman.
"Hi." JJ said with an uncertain wave and abashedly tucked the hand under her arm when she realized how silly it looked. "I know it's late, and I'm so sorry to bother you, but..." God, this was insane.
"Oh, I wasn't really doing anything." Emily smiled, and JJ let out a sigh of relief.
"I..." She couldn't look at Emily, the ridiculousness of the situation making her cheeks burn. "To be honest, I don't really know what I'm doing here."
Her head was starting to ache, and she just wished the ground would swallow her up, because this whole thing was rapidly turning into total humiliation. Pinching the bridge of her nose for the umpteenth time that day, she regarded the other woman miserably.
But instead of laughing or making fun of JJ's bizarre nightly adventures, Emily stepped aside from the doorway, an understanding look in her eyes which the blonde knew so well.
"Wanna come in?" she asked simply, and at that moment, JJ knew exactly why she was standing at Emily's door and not anyone else's.
Taking a ragged breath, JJ stepped into the room, hearing the door close with a small click behind her. Self-consciously sitting on the foot of the bed, JJ looked at Emily who had taken a few steps into the room and was now studying her attentively.
"We need a drink." The brunette said matter-of-factly and walked to the minibar with three long strides. The door made a faint 'psssshhh' noise when she opened it.
"Give me a vodka." Hearing JJ's request, Emily turned to her, frowning uncertainly.
"You hate vodka." The brunette reached for the bottle anyway.
"I don't care, I want one." JJ knew she sounded like a five-year-old, begging her mom for candy at a store, but after the day she'd had, she was past caring.
Emily handed over one of the small bottles and then took one herself. JJ gratefully accepted the offered item, unscrewed the lid and downed the contents with one gulp. The liquid unpleasantly burned the back of her throat, but the warmness that spread through her limbs was totally worth it.
"Here's a..." Emily stopped dead in her tracks. "...glass."
"Give me another one."
"JJ," Emily warned, but the blonde raised her hand to silence her colleague.
"Emily, I'm fine. I just need to take the edge off tonight," she explained and knew that Emily would relent.
With a roll of her eyes, Emily reached for another bottle and brought it with her to the bed. Sitting next to JJ, she handed it to her and took a sip from her own.
They sat in comfortable silence, both sipping their vodkas and both observing the other from the corners of their eyes. JJ felt her entire body relax, little by little, and the hint of her headache was practically gone already. Taking yet another gulp from her bottle, she mused that coming to Emily was the best decision she'd made all day.
"Couldn't sleep?" Emily's voice breaking the silence brought the blonde back to the present. It took JJ awhile to register what the other woman had asked, and then she looked rueful when she realized she'd momentarily zoned out.
"It was a shitty day," she answered non-committedly. It was never a good sign when she started cursing, but JJ pushed the irritating thought aside and took another sip which burned just as badly as the first.
"You can say that again." Emily smiled humorlessly, absent-mindedly peeling off the label of her bottle.
Another moment of silence.
"I still don't know how you do it," JJ said in a startling burst of honesty.
"Any of it. What we did today. How do you do it every day and not find yourself buried under all...that?"
Emily nursed her bottle for a while, the look in her eyes oddly distant.
"I don't, I guess," she finally said and shrugged. "I carry it all with me, but I suppose I just hide it better than most people."
"What? No compartmentalizing?" JJ asked, feigning shock.
"Well, there's some of that, too." Emily chuckled, downing the last drops of her vodka, before throwing the bottle in a nearby trash can. JJ followed her example, and her two bottles made a loud clinking sound when they hit against Emily's on the bottom of the can.
Wordlessly, the blonde stood up and fetched new bottles for them both. Emily only raised her eyebrow in disapproval, but was clearly too tired to protest any further.
JJ knew she was tipsy. Actually, she was a little more than tipsy, but after doubting herself and feeling absolutely useless the entire day, she welcomed it with open arms. And the more tipsy she became, the more aware she was of the other woman sitting next to her; the warmth radiating from Emily's body made JJ's skin tingle, her subtle perfume deliciously tickling JJ's nose.
"How's your cheek?" Emily's voice forced the blonde to concentrate on matters of more importance.
"It's all good," she replied with a chipper voice, not wanting to let on how much the whole thing still bothered her. Raising the bottle in salute, she aimed at her most convincing smile.
JJ felt fingers curling around her chin, the other woman gently urging her to look her way – just like only hours before. Emily inspected the still clearly visible mark, her intense gaze making JJ shiver against her will. She looked at Emily, afraid to breath or move, the brunette's eyes slowly tracing the lines of her cheek until she looked up and their eyes met. Something transpired between them—JJ felt it all the way to the tips of her toes—the invisible pull towards the other almost too powerful to resist. She could hear the blood rush in her ears, the pounding in her head deafening.
Just when JJ was certain her heart would jump out of her chest, Emily seemed to snap out of her trance and quickly let her hand fall from JJ's chin. The brunette turned away from her, clutching the small bottle in her hands. She couldn't quite explain it, but JJ felt the loss of contact almost as a physical blow, as an ache somewhere deep inside her.
Emily drank the remainder of her vodka, her hands trembling slightly, her chest rising and falling irregularly. Feeling oddly shaky, JJ seconded the move and heard another clink from the trash can as her bottle landed on top of the others.
She knew she probably shouldn't do it, knew that this was the moment when she should simply thank Emily for helping her take her mind off certain things for a little while and leave, but it was so much easier said than done. She just couldn't, the rational part of her brain losing the battle and dying a quick, painless death the moment she turned to look at Emily.
JJ's eyes swept over soft, elegant features, and in awe, she marveled, once again, at just how incredibly beautiful Emily was. The other agent's dark hair fell perfectly around her face, framing it beautifully and making her look like a Renaissance painting. Her skin was fair and smooth, and JJ suddenly felt a compelling need to run her fingers down the brunette's neck and experience the smoothness herself.
And then Emily turned to her, their eyes locking, and JJ saw Emily's eyes grow dark with something that she didn't even dare to contemplate. Her eyes involuntarily slid down to stare at Emily's full, perfect lips which were so close that she could easily reach out and trace them softly with her fingers.
JJ found herself wondering for a millionth time that day what it would feel like to kiss those lips, and had her brain not been consumed by alcohol, she would've realized how dangerous her train of thought actually was. But with the day she'd had, she more than deserved to know. Seeing Emily's lips part slightly and the emergence of a pink tongue swiping across Emily's lower lip overloaded JJ's brain, causing it to switch off completely as she leaned forward and captured the brunette's lips with her own.
The moment JJ's lips touched Emily's, her world exploded. It was like sunrise with a giant angel choir singing 'Hallelujah' in the background, like the sweetest candy she'd ever tasted, like coming home, like every other possible romance novel cliché she could think of. Emily's lips tasted of spring and vodka and Emily, and JJ knew she was hooked.
After only a small moment of hesitation, Emily kissed her back, eagerly, her tongue sliding along JJ's lower lip, demanding entrance which the blonde more than happily granted. JJ buried her hands in Emily's hair, pulling the other woman closer, wanting to taste everything. Of its own accord, Emily's hand slowly inched under JJ's blouse, her fingers finally touching bare skin. For JJ, the touch was like a jolt of electricity, and eagerly she struggled to get out of her shirt. Finally, the blonde felt Emily slipping the fabric down her shoulders, the touch incredibly warm and soft. Gently, the brunette lowered them down on the bed, her lips never leaving JJ's.
Their clothes were discarded, one item after another, and soon JJ found herself pinned down on Emily's hotel bed, her lover's face hovering above her. Feeling Emily's naked body firmly against her own made JJ's insides tingle. Emily kissed her slowly, passionately, and JJ was certain she'd never get tired of feeling those lips on hers. Then the brunette pulled back, and JJ whimpered for the loss of contact, but her whimper soon turned into a moan when Emily kissed her way along JJ's jaw and then down her neck. Her breathing ragged and heavy, JJ felt the brunette inch toward her breasts, and she bit down on her lower lip when Emily's tongue made contact with her nipple. Her breath caught in her throat, her hand winding in the other woman's hair in encouragement.
JJ had never felt this way. Her every nerve ending was on fire, her entire being was attuned to the feel of Emily's mouth and hands on her body, every new touch more electrifying than the previous one. A thin sheet of perspiration stuck her hair to her forehead, but JJ didn't care. Emily continued her journey down her stomach, and JJ's head arched back into the pillow when the brunette discovered a particularly sensitive spot.
The ability to form any kind of coherent thoughts had disappeared long ago, and all JJ knew was Emily and Emily alone. The other woman was everywhere, surrounding her completely. Her outstretched hands grabbed the bed sheet, fingers almost painfully digging into the cotton as her body readily responded to Emily's skillful maneuvers. Squeezing her eyes shut, JJ was certain she'd died and gone to heaven.
And then Emily shifted slightly, her hot breath tickling the sensitive skin of JJ's inner thigh, and even in her absolute state of euphoria, the blonde knew exactly what Emily was about to do. She opened her eyes wide and grabbed the sheets even harder, and then Emily's mouth was there and-
Oh, my fucking God.
Next: Part III