Disclaimer: Mark Gordon's and CBS'. Not mine. Never was, never will be. Bugger it all.
Summary: Emily's leaving again, and JJ's tired of lies. Episode addition to "200". Femslash.
Author's Notes: This one's for Race, as she sort of gave me the prompt to begin with. Also, as always, a big thank you to lysachan for beta reading.
It was bittersweet, being reunited with everyone.
After their short round of drinks at the bar, they'd all relocated to Rossi's where the man had whipped a midnight, Italian dinner for them. Though everyone had had a long day and now suffered from sleep deprivation, the combined effects of still being on the edge after JJ's rescue, as well as Emily's few precious hours with them, had everyone stretching their limits.
Emily looked around her, watching everyone and soaking in every moment she was spending with the people she still thought of as family. She'd missed them and hadn't even realized just how much until now.
Garcia was practically hovering over her, as if making sure she didn't just vanish into thin air, but her exuberance was, no doubt, hiding the worry she still felt for JJ even now as the blonde profiler was back with them. Hotch was actually laughing, not just smiling, the relief of having all of his team safe palpable on his face, and then there was Derek looking more relaxed than in a long time, according to PG. Rossi was the same as always, his somewhat dry humor making her laugh while Reid was a bit more reserved than he'd been the last time Emily had seen him, but she knew what he'd been through and could hardly blame him for changing. It hurt to know that they'd all been through their own personal hell because of what they did for living, And then there was Alex, whom Emily had met only hours before, appeared to be a good fit for the team, and Emily was happy about that; Alex seemed like a very nice person, and someone Emily could see herself being friends with, if only they didn't live so far away. That left JJ, leaning against her husband and looking tired, but, considering what she'd been through during the last 24+ hours, it was a miracle the woman is even standing.
Emily's heart constricted; she'd had the hardest time channeling the near frantic fear for JJ's safety into determination to find her. It was the first time in years that her famous compartmentalization skills had almost failed her. From the moment she'd heard Hotch's voice on the other end of the line, telling her JJ was in trouble, her only thought was to get to her before it was too late. She'd dropped everything in a blink of an eye. She hadn't even called her second in command until she boarded the plane.
The hours on the plane had dragged on, and, even though she'd been in constant contact with her old team, it had felt like there should have been more she should do. She simply had needed to get to Washington faster; she had needed to act, instead of just sitting on a plane, waiting.
Seeing JJ strung up by her wrists, seconds away from being sliced open by the monster that was now dead, was a sight that would haunt Emily's dreams for a long time. She'd come too close to losing her for good; it was something she never wanted to have to live through again. Emily had already lost a part of JJ, years ago, to the fear of being judged, and, though it had broken Emily's heart, she'd leaned to accept JJ's decision. She'd made her peace with JJ choosing a "normal life", or at least as normal as anyone could have, doing what they did. It was a life that JJ's family expected her to have, instead of what Emily and JJ had known they could've had.
Watching JJ in the arms of Will was something that would never stop hurting, even if she had practically pushed JJ into his arms, but Emily shoved away the ache with resolve strengthened by time, hiding her stronger feelings for the woman in one of those imaginary boxes in her mind. The Queen of Compartmentalization, Emily reminded herself, as she plastered on a smile and tried not to wince when Will leaned down to kiss his wife. Instead, Emily turned her head away, and forced herself to focus on what Pen and Alex were talking about.
It was less than half an hour before Emily had to leave for the airport, and she realized she couldn't see JJ anywhere, or Will for that matter – though, not that she particularly wanted to lay her eyes on him. Emily frowned, concerned; she knew JJ wouldn't leave without saying goodbye, but she still worried.
"So, things are better then?" Hotch asked, bringing Emily out of her musings.
It took Emily a second to remember what they were talking about, before she could provide him with an answer: "I think so. I mean, my mother is my mother, but she's trying. That means a lot."
"I'm happy to hear that," her old team leader said, looking pleased. He, probably more than anyone besides JJ, knew of Emily's troubled relationship with her mother.
"Yeah, I think that we are, for the first time ever, actually seeing eye to eye on things," Emily explained.
Hotch nodded. "Give her my regards the next time you speak with her."
"I will, thank you," Emily promised, just as she was enveloped in bear hug by her favorite technical analyst.
"Please, don't leave us again," Penelope begged, her arms squeezing Emily so tight the older woman was sure she'd break a rib or two.
"And leave you with no excuse to come to London?" Emily teased. "I can't do that! Besides, work awaits."
"But I'll miss you."
"We all will," Rossi chimed in, and Emily looked at him with a soft smile on her face. She'd miss them, too, but there was nothing to keep her in Washington anymore, and she had a new life in London. She was needed there.
One by one, everyone hugged Emily goodbye, even Alex, who still joked about having big shoes to fill. Emily laughed and waved the other brunette's concerns off; from what she'd heard from JJ, the woman was doing a great job and was by now a full-fledged member of the BAU.
As if summoned by Emily's thoughts, JJ reappeared in their midst, looking like she'd been crying. She brushed away everyone's concern, virtually ignoring the others as her eyes sought out Emily. "Could I talk to you for a moment?"
Emily nodded, and with the final promise to keep in touch with everyone, followed JJ who'd already turned around and walked out of Rossi's house.
Emily hurried to catch up with JJ, who didn't stop until she'd reached Emily's rental. But, once they were face to face, it seemed as if JJ was at a loss for words. They stood by the side of the road for a few minutes, and it wasn't until Emily noticed the younger woman shiver that she realized how cold it was.
"JJ, what's wrong?" Emily asked. She was reluctant to push JJ, but the woman needed rest, and she wasn't going to get it standing outside in the chilly weather. Emily said as much to JJ and added: "How are you even awake? Aren't you exhausted?"
JJ rubbed her eyes and her temples before wrapping her arms around herself in an unconscious effort to protect herself. Whether it was from the chill or something else, Emily wasn't going to guess.
"Don't think I can sleep for a while," JJ confessed, raising her eyes up to Emily's, finally breaking her silence.
Emily looked at JJ with sadness in her eyes; she, if anyone, understood the nightmares JJ would suffer. They'd all had their tragedies, but there were things that tied Emily to JJ in ways the two still couldn't voice to the others. Emily brought up her hand and rubbed the spot where Doyle had branded her. It was covered now, by a blackbird taking flight, free at last.
JJ leaned against the hood of the car, looking not only exhausted but also scared, nervous.
"I can't do it anymore," JJ whispered, her eyes filling with tears.
Emily frowned, confused. "Do what? Be an agent?"
"No," JJ chuckled wearily and sighed, hanging her head and letting her hair fall around her face so Emily couldn't see her eyes. "I can't lie anymore. There's been too much lying, too many secrets. I can't do it anymore. I won't."
JJ paused for a while before raising her head. Her eyes were closed, but, when she opened them, there was a kind of new strength in them, even despite the tears that now spilled over. Without even realizing what she was doing, Emily reached out to wipe the tears away.
"I told Will it's over," JJ said, shocking Emily to her core. "I told him I was done deceiving myself and him. And you. It's not right for me to be with someone just because they're what others expect from me, or because it's comfortable, and a life with him is less scary than a life with someone else. I can't use him as a crutch anymore."
"JJ," Emily breathed. Her heart was pounding so hard she could barely hear herself speak, the blood rushing through her ears. "What are you saying?"
JJ reached up to grasp Emily's hand which was still cupping her cheek. "Emily, you know what I'm saying. I've been so afraid, such a coward. For so many years I've been running away from how I feel, lying to myself that I was doing the right thing. No more."
"No, Emily, please," JJ pleaded. "No more lies. No more running."
It seemed to Emily as if time had stopped; her world had shrunk to include only the two of them and the hammering of her heart.
JJ stepped ever closer, and brought Emily's hand, the one she was still holding, against her chest. "I am so in love with you, and have been since those first debriefings about BAU protocol."
Emily could only nod, not trusting herself to speak just yet, and not really daring to believe what was happening, what JJ was saying. Nervously, she licked her lips, and closed her eyes. She could get hurt; if JJ changed her mind, it would kill her. There would be no way to compartmentalize the pain if she now let JJ in and then lost her. She could have a family, someone to love, someone who loved her back; she could be a part of Henry's life. For the first time since she could remember, Emily was well and truly terrified.
All those fears disappeared into nothing when Emily felt the soft touch of lips against her own. Sighing, she leaned into the kiss, keeping it soft and tender, but trying to convey all of the love she felt for JJ through their contact. Emily brought her free hand up to caress JJ's neck and shoulder, keeping her movements gentle and loving; even though JJ initiated the kiss, Emily was worried she'd scare her away. A slight moan escaped Emily's lips as they parted, and JJ leaned her head against Emily's, as both women tried to calm their breathing.
"Come back home," JJ entreated.
"Come home to me."
"I will," Emily promised.