I'm finally back with another oneshot! :) This one isn't really connected to any episode, but it takes place after Doyle and it refers to the episode where JJ talks about her sister commiting suicide. In my story JJ was a little older when that happened.
WARNING: Trigger warning! This is story might be a trigger for self-harm, so please do not read it if that affects you!
So, this is not a happy story, but I hope you like it anyway and enjoy reading!
JJ had been watching Emily all day and by now she was certain that something was wrong with her. It was their first day on a new case in Maryland but even though the case was pretty bad – as most of their cases were actually – she was rather sure there was something else bothering her friend. Lately, Emily had been even more distant than usually. Quieter and somehow darker. And today JJ had actually seen her wince slightly as if she was in pain. Twice. Paying even closer attention to the brunette agent, she had noticed the other woman favouring her left arm. Just a tiny little bit but it had been enough for JJ to notice, after all she was a profiler now herself. She had a suspicion as to what might be wrong with Emily, she just didn't now the why. So when night came around and they were heading to the hotel they were staying at, she decided to confront Emily once they were at their room. As usually they were sharing a room because after the budget cuts Strauss didn't allow for the members of the BAU to get single rooms anymore. Most of the time JJ and Emily were enjoying sharing a room. It gave them a chance to have long conversations about pretty much everything and just spend time together and forget about the case they were working for a while. They didn't have many other opportunities to do so, as they were travelling so much and JJ wanted to spend time with her family when they were home. But today Emily didn't seem too happy to be sharing a room with her best friend. She didn't talk to JJ on their way to the hotel and as soon as they entered the hotel room Emily disappeared into the bathroom. JJ decided to give her the time and space she obviously needed and just wait patiently for her to re-enter the room. It had been a long and stressful day, physically exhausting as much as emotionally. So she settled onto her bed with a file and waited.
After about half an hour JJ finally heard the bathroom door being unlocked. When Emily emerged from the other room, her friend looked up at her and contorted her face with concern. Emily looked even worse than when she went in there. Her face was unusually pale and her big, dark eyes seemed empty. Silently she went over to her bed and sank down onto the mattress. JJ put her file aside and sat up a little straighter.
"Emily, are you alright?" she asked, watching the profile of her friend closely.
"Yeah, sure. Why do you ask?" Emily tried to sound nonchalant, but JJ wasn't fooled that easily. In fact, she sounded more like she had a hard time speaking at all.
"Because I know you're not. You've been different lately. Withdrawn." JJ got up from her bed and walked over to Emily's. "What is wrong, Emily?" she inquired gently, settling onto the bed next to her friend. Emily immediately scooted over to get a little more distance between them, her body tensing up.
"Nothing. Everything's fine," the brunette replied stubbornly.
"You can talk to me. I just want to help." She carefully placed her hand on Emily's left forearm, hoping to get a reaction from her. And just like she expected, Emily hissed slightly in pain and drew her arm back, completely rigid now. But before she could escape JJ's touch completely, the blonde gingerly took hold of her wrist.
"You know, when I was younger I spent a lot of time with my older sister, Rosaline," JJ quietly started talking, not looking at Emily and not letting go of her wrist. "One day, when I went into her room, I found her sitting on the floor, drawing beautiful patterns onto her forearm with a marker. I sat next to her and watched her for a while, completely captivated by this gorgeous artwork. My sister had a great talent for drawing. She was covering almost her whole forearm with those flowery patterns and it was beautiful, but I had never seen anyone drawing onto their own body before and couldn't understand why. So after a few minutes of watching, I asked her why she was doing it. And Rose looked at me and said it helped against the pain. I knew my sister was troubled, but until then I hadn't known how much she was really hurting. That day was the first time she showed me the white and faded pink lines marring her skin, carefully worked into the pretty patterns. Scars from before she discovered the drawing. And she told me that drawing onto herself was the only thing that kept the urge to hurt herself at bay. She never talked about that again, but I would discover new patterns on her skin every few days. And I would sit for hours, tracing those patterns with my fingertips." While she was still holding on to Emily's wrist, her other hand had slowly started painting soft, invisible patterns on Emily's forearm, mirroring what she had been doing for her sister years ago. "And I would watch Rose slowly relax under the touch, her face becoming completely serene after a while." And just like Rose, Emily's posture loosened up ever so slightly. "The drawing and me tracing the patterns was the only solace she ever found and for a while that was enough…" JJ trailed off, before she finally looked up at Emily, right into her tear-filled eyes. "Emily, you have to stop. You can't keep hurting yourself, it won't help."
"I can't. It hurts too much," Emily whispered, sounding broken.
"I know. But I'm here for you and I want to help you. You just have to let me. You're not alone with this, just let me in." JJ could barely keep herself from pleading. But Emily had to make this decision herself. Forcing her into it wouldn't help anything.
"I don't know how." Emily's tears spilled over now, running down her pale cheeks.
"Just tell me, what is it that's hurting you so much?" she probed gently.
"I don't even know anymore. When I was in Europe, I felt so isolated and lonely. I had no one I could trust and no one I could talk to about what happened. I just had to pretend it didn't happen. And I couldn't really put it behind me. I thought coming back would make me alright again, but it didn't. There are days, weeks even, when I'm just fine. And I can almost forget the pain. And then there are days, when it hurts so badly that the pain is almost physical. And I can't breathe and I'm falling apart. And the only way to get control over the pain is by overlaying it with real physical pain. The whole Doyle disaster just left me kind of…broken. And I don't know how to fix that," Emily quietly conceded. She was looking down at JJ's hand, still tracing invisible patterns over her forearm.
"I promise you, we will find a way. We can fix that. You don't have to deal with it on your own. I'm here for you and I'll do everything to help you get through that. And if I can't do it, then we'll find someone who can. I know, you don't like therapists and if you don't want that, we'll find another way. But you do need help. So please, when you're hurting, talk to me, draw, just don't hurt yourself. You'll be fine, I promise. Just don't shut me out again, okay?"
Emily shakily nodded and JJ wrapped her up in a tight hug. The brunette immediately clung to her like she never wanted to let go again and JJ squeezed her just a little more, knowing that sometimes a tight embrace could help to patch someone back together.
When JJ saw a curved blue line at Emily's wrist, barely showing at the hem of her sweater, a few days later, she couldn't help but smile and gently squeeze Emily's hand. Her friend still had a long way to go, but the first step was made and she would make sure there was no going back.