It's been ages since I last posted anything and I'm really sorry about that. I've been completely blocked for most of the last year and wasn't able to write anything and then life just got a little crazy.
Anyway, here I am with a new one shot. It's set during season 7. I don't really know how kids behave at what age, so Jack might be a bit ooc, sorry about that. Other than that I just hope you enjoy the story and I'd be thrilled if you'd leave a review!
The moment she stepped out of the house she was hit by a wall of suffocating heat. Squinting against the harsh sunlight until she remembered she had pushed her sunglasses up onto the top of her head earlier, she contemplated whether this was actually worth it or if she should just go back into the pleasantly air-conditioned house. Before she was able to make up her mind she was distracted by a shrill voice calling out her name.
"EMILY! EMILY!" She immediately clutched her drink a little tighter when she saw the little boy running towards her, afraid he might barrel right into her and spill the drink over both of them. He came to a sliding stop in front of her, barely avoiding a collision.
"What's up, Jack?" She asked, smiling at the over-excited boy who was now bouncing on the balls of his feet.
"Will you please come play with me and Henry? PRETTY PLEASE?" Jack indicated with his thumb over his shoulder towards Henry and looked up at her with big, hopeful eyes.
Emily really loved the two boys, but she'd better make sure not to commit to anything too crazy in this heat. "Well, what do you guys want to play?"
"We wanna play ball in the pool!" He grinned at her widely. He loved "Uncle Rossi's" pool and Hotch usually was barely able to get him out of the water at the end of the day.
However, just thinking about going into the pool made Emily uncomfortable and she had to suppress the urge to pull down the shirt she was wearing on top of her bikini any further. "How about you ask Aunt JJ to play with you?"
"We already did and she's gonna play with us. But we want you to play with us too!" Jack pushed his lower lip forward a little, starting to pout when he realized that Emily wasn't willing to play.
"I'm sorry, buddy. I just really don't feel like going into the pool right now," she tried to explain.
"You haven't been in the pool at all today! You always used to play in the pool with us before you went away!"
"Jack..." Emily didn't even know what to tell him. He was right, she always used to play with them, but she just couldn't.
"Are you afraid of the water? Have you forgotten how to swim when you were away?" he asked, concern etched into his little face, "I'm a really good swimmer now. I can show you how to swim. And you can borrow my floaties if you want. I don't need them anymore. Dad just makes me wear them for safety, but I'm sure he'll understand you need them more than me."
Emily couldn't help but smile at the adorableness of the little boy. "That's really sweet of you, Jack! I appreciate the offer, but I'm afraid you'll have to play without me today. I'm really sorry!"
Jacks shoulders slumped a little, but he still tried to smile at her. "It's okay. I know the water can be really scary sometimes," he said before turning around and heading back to the pool. Saddened, Emily looked after him for a moment and then made her way over to the sun loungers. She really did want to play with the boys, but there was just no way she would get into that pool.
"He's right, you know?" Startled, Emily looked up, the bright sunlight preventing her from seeing more than her partner's silhouette.
"What?" she asked confused what Derek was referring to.
He settled onto the end of Emily's sun lounger right next to her feet, before he answered her, a gentle but inquiring look on his face. "You're usually one of the first in the pool, but you've been sitting out here all day. Is everything okay?"
"Yeah, everything's fine. I just don't feel like going into the pool today," Emily tried to explain, but she could hear herself how unconvincing that sounded.
"I see..." he answered, his eyes fixed on the pool and the two boys playing there with JJ. His answer surprised her. He wouldn't just be satisfied with that answer, would he? "And why is that?" he probed after a moment of silence. Of course he wouldn't, Emily thought.
"I'm just feeling a bit under the weather..." she vaguely answered. Why the hell couldn't she come up with something more convincing right now? And why didn't she think of an explanation beforehand? She should have known they'd notice that she didn't go into the pool.
"Come on, Em. It's more than that. You don't have to tell me, just know that you can always talk to me. About everything." His voice was soft and gentle, showing her he'd always support her and be there for her no matter what.
"Of course I know that," she answered, before they sat in silence for a few minutes.
"It's just that..." Emily started, but broke off again, unsure what to say. Derek turned his head to look at her, but her eyes were focused on her fingers playing with each other. "My fight with...Doyle," she slowly continued, hesitating a moment before saying the name. "It left scars...I don't think Jack and Henry should see that. I don't want to scare them." Finally, she looked back up at Derek and she could see concern written all over his face. There was a moment of silence between them, both just looking at each other.
"You know, Emily, they've seen Hotch's scars several times and they aren't scared by it. Every one of us has scars and they don't mind. Why do you think that would be any different with you?" he tried to reassure her.
"Well, mine are a bit more nasty looking..." Emily dropped her gaze back to her hands, she just couldn't bear to look into Derek's concerned eyes any longer.
"This isn't about Jack or Henry, is it?" Derek inquired carefully, watching her closely for even the slightest reaction to his words. And then he could see it in her eyes. Pure, raw pain. But she didn't answer. "Emily?" He did his best not to let it show in his voice how alarmed he was. Emily didn't usually show emotion like this, always careful not to reveal too much of herself. Sometimes that even made her seem somewhat indifferent.
"I...I just..." She broke off, tears gathering in her eyes. Derek lightly put his hand on her leg, just a gentle gesture of comfort and encouragement. "I just don't feel like myself anymore...What Doyle did to me...it..it left me feeling...disfigured." Her voice was barely more than a whisper, she was struggling to say them at all but she kept pushing on. Now that she started, she wanted to say it all, she wanted Derek to understand. "When I look into a mirror..I'm disgusted. And I feel ugly. This isn't my body anymore. It just feels so wrong and I don't want anyone else to see me like this." The tears were streaming down her face now and Derek leaned forward and pulled her into a gentle but strong embrace. For a while he just silently held her like this, letting her cry and stroking her back soothingly. When she finally started to calm down, he spoke up, carefully letting go of her so he could look at her while he spoke.
"Emily, you are one of the strongest and most beautiful women I've ever known and nothing, absolutely nothing, could ever change that. What Doyle did to you was horrible, but it only made you stronger and even more beautiful. You came out on the other side, you survived. You fought and you won. Emily, you are gorgeous inside and out and nothing anyone does could ever change that. What you perceive as flaws is just a symbol of your victory and it shows what an incredible and truly impressive woman you are. You. Are. Beautiful. Don't you ever forget that!" Emily nodded slowly at his words, a slight smile playing on her lips.
"Thank you, Derek!" she said softly.
"You're welcome," Derek smiled back at her.
Once again they sat in silence for a few moments until Derek spoke up again: "You know, I'm not gonna push you to do anything you don't want to, but I bet the boys would be thrilled if their Aunt Emmy would come play with them in the pool..." He carefully grinned at her and extended his hand in an invitation to join the others. Emily hesitated for a moment, still thinking about his words. "Alright, let's go," she finally agreed, putting her hand into his with a grin of her own.
When they got to the pool, Emily quickly pulled of her shirt and slipped into the water, trying not to give herself a chance to overthink this again and at the same time giving the others as little of a chance to see her scars as possible. If Rossi had announced his plans to host a pool party a little earlier she would've had time to go buy a one-piece swimsuit. Instead she was wearing a bikini now, which did nothing to hide her scars. And neither did the water.
Hastily she snatched up the ball, which had landed next to her and threw it back to Jack to distract the attention from her. The small boy squealed in delight about the fact the his aunt had come to play with them after all.
They played ball together for a while which finally ended in a heated water battle with the two boys trying their best to dunk Emily and succeeding when Derek came up behind her and helped them.
"Traitor!" Emily laughed when she emerged again, splashing water at Derek and then brushing her wet hair out of her face.
However, the sudden touch of a small hand on her stomach made her flinch and jump back in fear. Her good, playful mood was gone immediately and she put her hand protectively over her stomach, hiding her scar from view. She just stared at Jack who had touched her, unable to suppress the panic that was showing in her eyes. But Jack didn't seem to notice Emily's fear.
"You didn't have that the last time," he said, pointing at her stomach.
"No. No, I didn't," Emily answered him, trying to sound as normal as possible and taking deep breaths to calm her racing heart. She didn't want to have this conversation with Jack. Especially not while being surrounded by all her friends.
"Did a bad man do this to you? Like one did to my dad? Did you fight with him?" Jack inquired with curiosity, his little head tilted slightly to one side.
"Yes, Jack. I fought with a very bad man," she sighed. It sounded so simple when he put it like that. Almost harmless.
"And did you win?" His big brown eyes, that were so much like his fathers, kept glancing back and forth between Emily's face and her hand that still covered most of the scar. His attention completely focused on Emily's answers, he didn't notice the tension that had settled over everyone. The others could feel Emily's discomfort at Jack's questions, but were unsure whether they should stop him or if it was better to just get this over with now.
"Yeah, I think I did," Emily answered, sounding lost in her own thoughts, but more confident than before. She looked over to Derek for a moment and sent him a tentative smile, silently thanking him.
"So does that mean you're a superhero too, like my daddy?" Jacks excitement lit up his whole face and he was almost bouncing on the balls of his feet now. Taken aback by the mere idea that Jack could possibly see her this way, Emily couldn't do anything but stare at him, completely speechless.
When Emily didn't answer and the boy was almost falling over now with delight and tension, Derek answered for her instead.
"Yes Jack, she definitely is."