"Hey, Hotch," Emily asked, nervously stabbing her hotel-breakfast eggs early Sunday morning before the team headed into the sheriff's department.
"Yes?" the SAIC replied, looking over from where he sat with JJ between the two of them.
"When we're on cases, are we legally required to work every day, or could we take Sundays off?"
"Legally, you're allowed your weekend wherever you are; we've just never opted to take them when on a case. Why do you ask?"
Emily took a deep breath before answering the question. She knew that her coworkers had noticed that she had taken up the habit of praying before she ate – there really was no way that they couldn't have noticed it considering the fact that they almost always ate together, or at least in shifts, when on a case – and they hadn't cared, but how would they take this request?
"I was thinking that I might go to church with the Hayes instead."
Derek almost spit out his coffee. "Church? No offense, princess, but I didn't think that was your sort of thing."
Emily shrugged, saying simply, "I think it's going to be different for me now."
"Since you were saved?" JJ asked.
Emily raised her eyebrows at her friend, surprised that the blonde knew that terminology. Emily was just learning it herself.
It was JJ's turn to shrug as she said casually, "I've been doing a little bit of my own research this weekend, and looking at your Bible when you're in not in our hotel room with me."
Emily nodded slowly, debating whether or not she should before she offered, "Do you want to come too? We may have to take a vehicle of our own, but Kayla told me how to get there."
JJ turned to look at Hotch, but Emily still saw twin glimmers of interest and indecision in her blue eyes before she did so.
Hotch mulled this over, thinking aloud as he said, "Well, the unsub seems to be taking a month in between each kill, so we're not really in a time crunch… we're now well aware of what sort of a person that we're looking for… so it shouldn't be a problem if you two want to take the day off."
"Thanks, Hotch," the two women chorused.
Exhilarated by the fact that JJ wanted to come along and seemed to be curious about what had happened to her, Emily quickly finished her breakfast so that she knew she would have plenty of time for her and JJ to get ready before they had to leave to meet the Hayes at Sherwood Baptist Church. JJ took her lead, and within the hour, Kayla was by their side in the church entryway.
"JJ! I'm so glad to see that you came too," Kayla said, leaning in to hug them both.
JJ just smiled, and Emily got the feeling that the blonde wasn't entirely comfortable here. Kayla had been right; it was rare that they were able to go to church, and so, when they did, they didn't always feel comfortable in the setting. Emily knew all too well what her friend was feeling; this was the first time since she was fifteen that she had felt comfortable in a church building. As a matter of fact, when Emily took stock of emotions, she realized that she was genuinely excited to be here.
Once the service had started, even though Emily didn't know the songs that were being sung, she read out of the songbook that she and JJ shared and happily sang right along. During Sunday school and Pastor Hunt's message, Emily soaked it all up like a sponge, often even forgetting her surroundings, she was paying such rapt attention to what she was learning from the Word of the God Who had taken her into His Shepherd's fold.
When the service was over, Emily and JJ exchanged fond goodbyes with the Hayes family and then headed to the sheriff's office. It was during those goodbyes that Emily noticed the odd look in JJ's eyes.
As Emily drove them back to the sheriff's office, she brought it up carefully, asking, "Are you alright?"
"Yeah," JJ said, and there was a tone of happy mystification in her voice that caught Emily's ear.
"Then what's up with you?" Emily asked.
"I, um…" JJ paused, saying almost sheepishly. "I need to tell you something."
"Okay….?" Emily answered, not sure what to expect from her friend's impending confession.
"I didn't actually have a friend in high school," JJ admitted.
"What?" For a second, Emily didn't get it, and then she did. "You mean your Baptist friend?"
JJ nodded. "That girl… was me." She sighed wearily, looking out her window as she explained, "My parents were very strict Baptists. We prayed at least four times a day, had devotions every morning and evening, my sister and I even had to wear skirts every day, only during soccer practice was I allowed to wear shorts, or even pants. My father was even the pastor of the church wherever we lived, and my mom was a Sunday school teacher. I was saved when I was ten years old. Everything was fine; I was the model good little church girl for about a year, but then we moved; my father took over a different church. This church was different from the one into which I had been born, unbelievably strict, and since Ros and I were the pastor's kids, they put totally unattainable expectations on us. I just started getting tired of it all, but it was worse on Ros since she was the pastor's elder child. To this day, I blame those church people as being one of the main reasons that she committed suicide. That day that I found her dead was the day that I just quit. I quit God, and I quit church of any sort. For the next seven years, I fought my parents tooth and nail every day not to have to do things their way, to not have to be a religious person, and the day I turned eighteen was the day that I left my parents' house for good. Finally, I had gotten my way; I no longer had my parents' rules or religion to deal with, so I took my freedom and ran with it without a backwards glance… until today. As I was sitting there beside you in that service, I just started remembering all the great things that I associated with that first church, and the closeness that I had felt to God during that year before we moved… and I wanted it back. So I prayed…" As Emily parked the vehicle in front of the sheriff's office, JJ turned to her friend with the same look of sheer joy that Emily knew she must have been wearing Thursday evening after she was saved, and she said, "And, Emily, my Father in Heaven took me back!"
"Father?" Emily echoed, not understanding the reference.
"Yeah!" JJ said enthusiastically. "We, Emily Prentiss," JJ said, reaching across the console to grab her hand. "Are now sisters in Christ, since we have both become children of the one true King."
This story was not supposed to become half as JJ-centric as it did, along with being Prentiss-centric, but, oh well, I've long ago learned to just role with what my muse gives me, and I do like it this way. Hopefully you guys enjoyed this story! Reviews (and votes on my poll) make my day! Thanks!:)