Chapter 1 - Haunted
Disclaimer: Mark Gordon's. Not mine. Never was, never will be. If it was, certain two characters would not have disappeared from our TV screens.
Summary: Resurrection of Emily Prentiss – part one.
Spoilers: If you've seen season six, you're safe.
A/N: After the news about Paget's return, this idea came to my head and though the draft pretty much wrote itself, the rest of it was more difficult. I was a few pages in when I figured it out. This fic is more from JJ's POV than Emily's (though both are used) and I've never done that before. I have a hard time getting into her head, I've always felt I understand Emily better. I decided not to rewrite the whole thing, though, so bear with me.
Jennifer 'JJ' Jareau walked towards her front door, feeling happier and more relieved than she had in a long time. As she searched her pockets for the keys, she glanced at the woman who was standing next to her with a bag over her shoulder, looking weary. JJ still couldn't believe Emily was back.
They'd only seen each other once after Paris and that encounter had been even shorter than the exchange of documents at the terrace of a nameless café. It had been the one time during Emily's deep cover mission that her path had led her back to the States. She had passed information on to JJ at a mall near Boston. The exchange had been fast, Emily bumping 'accidentally' into JJ and then bending down to gather a book JJ had dropped, just as accidentally. When the brunette gave the book back, along with the information neatly folded between the pages, the women had locked eyes for a brief moment; JJ had given Emily an encouraging smile, but Emily's own smile back had faltered. After that, JJ hadn't seen, nor heard from her friend in two weeks.
Since then, JJ's life had had even more hurdles. She was, once again, back with the BAU, where she felt she belonged. But home though it was, she found herself struggling. Not because her role within the team had changed, but because not telling the members of her team that Emily was alive was harder than she had anticipated. Hotch knew, of course. At first it had been intended that even the unit chief wouldn't be clued in, but JJ had convinced her then superiors that it would work for their benefit if he was in the loop. In reality, JJ couldn't care less what the big bosses at Homeland Security, FBI or CIA thought. What she was worried about was Hotch thinking he'd lost another member of his team. The work the team did was hard enough, but the personal cost to Hotch had been the highest, and it was unacceptable to JJ to let the man think he'd failed to protect yet another person.
When JJ's phone had rang earlier that day, the number indicating it was her former superior, JJ had feared the worst. So much so, she had almost let the call go to voice mail. Would he be calling to let her know that Emily was now, in reality and not just on paper, a casualty of the hunt for Ian Doyle? It was the desperate hope that the news was something else entirely that made JJ answer just in time. To say that it was a shock to hear Emily's voice on the other end was an understatement.
Opening the door, JJ ushered Emily in. "You know where the guest room is, so just put your things there. How about I open a bottle of wine for us?"
JJ watched her friend make her way to the back of the house. Emily was quiet, more reserved than JJ could ever remember seeing her. Of course, knowing something about how Emily had had to live the past few months, on a constant alert, not trusting anyone, having no safe haven… It was no wonder the woman was on edge. It would take time for her to open up again, but JJ was sure it would eventually happen. It was one of the reasons JJ had invited Emily to stay with her and Henry. The woman needed people around her, she needed to be reminded of the good things in life and, though JJ wondered if she was slightly conceited, she couldn't think of a better way than to have Emily spend time with her and Henry. Emily would need friends and before she was ready to let everyone know she was back, JJ was the only friend she could talk to. And Henry, with his happy grin and bubbly personality, could melt anyone. Before Doyle's return, Emily was a frequent guest, and the child had often asked after Aunt Emily.
Shaking her head to clear her head, JJ went to the kitchen. She was washing her hands when her phone rang.
"Hey Will," JJ greeted the caller. She saw Emily appearing at the door, with a black cat in her arms. "No, I just got home and was going to call you. Sure… Okay, thanks."
JJ ended the call and grinned at Emily. "I see you found your cat."
"He came to see me," Emily said quietly, but the hint of a smile gracing her lips was what touched JJ. "Do you think he still remembers me?"
"Of course he does. It's only been a few months," the blonde answered. She grabbed two wine glasses and found the bottle as well as the opener.
"Right. Feels longer," Emily mused and scratched the cat behind the ears before letting him jump on the floor.
"Oh, and that was Will on the phone, he's bringing Henry back," JJ explained and then added with a mischievous smile, "You know, we might not have worked out but I can't deny that he's a good father. And a very convenient babysitter."
"I'm glad you've been able to remain friends."
"Friends might be overstating it a little, but we both want what's best for Henry, so that helps," JJ stated. She opened the refrigerator door and took out ingredients for her chicken and halloumi cheese salad.
Emily felt that JJ had left something unsaid, and was about to question further but then eventually decided not to. Whatever it was, JJ would tell her when the time was right. Instead, she searched for and found a knife to cut the cucumber and tomatoes and the wooden board JJ used for such purposes. "How soon will he be here? I think I'll wait in the guest room when comes."
"It's about a fifteen minute drive, but we'll hear him pull up on the driveway, and you can't see the kitchen from the front of the house so…" Seeing that Emily was in full chef-mode, JJ smiled. It had been her plan to prepare the food while Emily relaxed, but obviously old habits were hard to break. So instead, she took out the plates and utensils and started setting the table.
"Can we leave that for later," Emily asked. "You know, till after he's gone."
JJ looked at the table and then at Emily. Then it dawned on her. "Will's only going to drop Henry off. He's not going to come inside, let alone into the kitchen."
"Please? Just in case. You never know," the brunette tried again, her eyes revealing the fear she was unsuccessfully trying to rein in.
The younger woman nodded and cleared the table but she was confused. It seemed almost as if Emily thought of Will as an enemy to avoid or protect herself from. Then again, JJ mused, given what the woman must have gone through over the past months, JJ could hardly fault her.
The blonde settled for leaning against the counter, sipping her wine, while Emily expertly prepared the salad. JJ regaled Emily by telling her stories about Henry. Emily kept a close eye on the clock by the kitchen wall, even as she listened and grinned at the boy's antics.
"… and I told him 'look at all the fog'. So he was straining in his car seat, trying to see and then said, extremely frustrated mind you, 'I can't, there's too much smoke everywhere!'"
A burst of laugher escaped from Emily.
"I was laughing so hard it took everything in me to stay on the road!" JJ exclaimed.
"Oh, I can imagine," Emily managed before she started laughing again. "Oh, I've missed him."
"You're not the only one. He's been asking about you a lot."
JJ studied her friend's face and wondered if the woman was aware of how surprised and hopeful she looked. Why Emily thought she'd be easy for anyone to forget, JJ couldn't even begin to understand. JJ's gentle prodding was interrupted by a knock on the front door. The instant change in Emily's demeanor was painful to see. Taking a moment to watch the woman leaving the kitchen in a hurry, JJ wondered how long it would take for her friend to let down her guard even a little.
Opening the door, JJ was almost knocked off her feet by her son as he ran to hug his mother's legs. Bending down to hug Henry, she briefly greeted Will as he handed over the boy's overnight bag. Little else was said; if it wasn't about Henry, the two didn't have much to talk about and it didn't take long for Will to turn around and leave.
After closing the door, she carried the boy into the house, searching for their overnight guest. "Do you know who came over, Henry?", JJ asked conversationally. "You haven't seen her in a long time. But she's back now and she's going to be staying with us for a while. Can you guess?"
The boy shook his head, but looking so curious JJ couldn't help but grin. "It's Emily! Remember Aunt Emily?" She got her answer as Henry started wriggling out of her arms.
"Emily! Whe'e are you?"
The woman in question opened the guestroom door and nearly spilled the wine in her glass as the excited child threw himself at her. The wine glass, innocent in any other occasion, was a telling sign to JJ of how second nature it had become for Emily to leave no trace of her existence wherever she was. Or was she reading too much into it? Pushing the thought out of her head, she enjoyed the scene taking place in front of her. Emily was on her knees on the floor, with the wine glass well out of reach, and hugging Henry who was returning the gesture with at least as much gusto. She was also wearing the biggest smile JJ had seen in a very long time and that, more than anything, made JJ blink away the sudden moisture from her eyes.
"Emily, I wanna show you somethin'. I drawed pictures today," Henry said as he now wriggled out of Emily's arms. When Emily didn't respond fast enough, he grabbed her hand and started to pull her to the direction of his room.
"Sweetheart, we're about to eat," JJ tried to tell him, but Emily was quick to interrupt.
"It's okay, JJ. I really don't mind."
"Well, okay. I'll go and set the table then," the blonde agreed. She stole another glance at the woman and small boy as they disappeared into his room to see his latest artwork. She made a mental note to take out the drawings Henry had drawn for Emily while she'd been chasing Doyle. Because of the complicated situation and Henry's young age, JJ had chosen not to tell him that Emily had died. She knew that when, not if, Emily came back, it would be confusing to the boy to understand how someone could come back from the dead, when he couldn't even yet truly understand what it meant when someone died. JJ had simply told him that Emily had gone away. Will had been against the idea at first, but she held her ground, insisting that it wouldn't hurt him to learn about death at a later date.
When the phone rang again, JJ had almost finished setting the table. Checking the caller ID, she raised her voice, "It's okay, it's just Garcia." Despite her assurances, Emily appeared in the doorway even before JJ had answered the phone, her body tense.
"Hello there, miss Penelope," JJ smiled as she greeted their friend. "No, nothing special, just enjoying a quiet night at home… No, Will dropped him off a while ago… Oh, you know the usual…" While chatting, JJ's eyes never strayed from Emily's. With smiles and her own relaxed manner, she tried to convey to Emily that everything was fine, but the deer in the headlights look on Emily's face was not going anywhere. It broke JJ's heart to think of the long road the woman had ahead of her. Her world had been ripped apart, and for someone who had a hard time trusting anything or anyone, JJ wondered how much trust Emily had for her world to stay even relatively safe and familiar. Determined to be there to help in whichever way she could, JJ reached out to the other woman, grasping her hand gently.
It took her a moment to realize that Pen had asked her a question. "Sorry, my mind wandered for a bit… Aah, I'd love to, but I'm really quite tired and I was just hoping to have some alone time with Henry." JJ winked at Emily, trying her hardest to lighten the mood. It seemed to have worked at least a little, as the brunette smiled a little. "Sorry, tomorrow's booked as well, but we could do that next weekend?"
While JJ finished her conversation with the tech guru, Emily gave the blonde's hand a squeeze before letting go. She took the last few items from the kitchen counter to the table before going to see what Henry was up to. It had surprised her that JJ talking to Garcia had upset her so much. She tried to analyze why, but couldn't come up with anything satisfactory.
Entering Henry's room, Emily was surprised at the havoc the little tyke had managed to create during the short time she'd been gone. The toys that had been, for the most part, in their boxes were strewn around the floor and the bed. "Is this the same room I left?"
The boy looked up at her a grinned, "Come on, Emily, let's draw pictures."
"How about we draw after we've eaten, okay?" As the boy's face fell, Emily added, "I promise. Now let's go and wash our hands first so that Mommy doesn't have to tell us, eh?"
An hour and a half later, Emily and JJ were sitting on the guest room bed, talking in slightly muted voices.
"So when are you going to resurrect yourself to everyone?"
Emily cringed, "I don't know. Soon. I haven't even called Hotch, yet, though they did say that asking him for my job back would only be a formality. I just… I never expected to be in this situation. I guess…"
"What?" JJ prodded when Emily didn't continue.
"I guess I just never really expected to come back," the words were so hushed JJ could barely make them out. "I knew I was going to get him, one way of the other. There was no other option. But I guess I always thought that in the end, he'd get me, too."
JJ laid a hand on Emily's thigh. She didn't really know what to say, even if she'd been able to say something through the lump in her throat. To think that Emily had expected to die. Not just figured it was a possibility, which it of course had been, but that she'd expected it. JJ had already been to the woman's funeral. She'd had hard enough time looking at a coffin she knew was empty. To actually lose her was unthinkable. The blonde woman lowered her head so that her hair fell down to hide the tears running down her cheeks.
"I… I should probably let my mother know first," Emily said after a while.
"That should prove interesting," JJ couldn't help but chuckle a little, wiping away the tears with her free hand.
"How are you going to go about it?"
"I have no idea," Emily confessed. "I can hardly call her, now can I? And if I turn up at her doorstep, I'm sure she'll have a heart attack."
"Well, we don't want that…," JJ murmured.
"Who called her? To tell her that, you know…"
"Right, of course," Emily nodded absentmindedly.
"I think Rossi volunteered to do it, wanting to spare Hotch, but as Hotch knew the truth and well, being the Unit Chief, I think he felt it was something he needed to do."
"Did you see her? I mean, was she there?"
"At y- at the funeral? Of course." It felt absurd, talking about Emily's funeral when the woman was alive and sitting next to her, talking. Life was truly surreal at times.
"Emily," JJ waited until the woman looked at her. "I know your relationship with her is complicated to say the least, but your mother was devastated. I was at the hospital, I told the team we'd lost you. I saw the effect it had on everyone. But no one in that room was in as much pain as your mother when we buried that casket. Don't doubt the grief."
Emily nodded again, digesting the words. It was true that despite their efforts, mother and daughter Prentiss never seemed to be able to communicate without creating a web of misunderstandings, uncertainties, and more pain. None the less, the thought of losing her mother one day was something Emily didn't want to think about, so she could only imagine how the older woman must have felt, thinking she'd lost her only child.
"I don't know how to tell her," Emily explained. "I mean… how do I prepare her for news like this without making her think she's talking to a ghost?"
JJ bit her lower lip, hesitatingly. Something that Emily noticed immediately. "What?"
"Well, I have an idea, but I don't know how you'll feel about it," JJ said.
"Let me be the one to tell her. I'll set up an appointment. You can come along, wait in the car or... I don't know, something, while I tell her."
"You'd do that?" Emily sounded astonished.
"Of course," JJ promised, herself surprised by Emily's reaction. "That way, she's not unprepared to see you, but gets to see you as soon as she finds out."
Emily thought about it, her tired brain mulling over the different scenarios.
"You don't have to decide now," JJ suggested. "I suppose I could also call her, but she might think it's a hoax. Anyway, just give it some thought."
"No… I like it. I mean if you're really willing to."
The younger woman grinned widely. "Emily! I'll be telling a woman that her daughter she thought is dead is in fact alive. I can't think of better news to give to a person. I'm sure I'll score lots of brownie points that I can lean on for years to come."
Emily's grin was interrupted by a yawn. "Oh wow. Didn't really think I was that tired."
"Well, it's almost two in the morning, so no wonder," JJ remarked, standing up and stretching the kinks in her back and neck before walking toward the door.
"Alright, guess it's time to give in," Emily relented, another yawn threatening to break through. She was glad she'd taken a shower earlier in the evening, feeling almost too exhausted to wash her teeth by this point.
"Oh", JJ turned back at the door. "Henry's going to be up by 7.30 the latest, so if you want to sleep later than that, you can always lock the door."
Closing the guestroom door behind her, JJ went to check on her son before retreating to her own bedroom. She'd just pulled the covers down, when she heard Emily's voice, soft and quiet, behind her. "Could you sit with me just a while longer?"
JJ looked at Emily and the gut-wrenching pain she saw behind the vulnerability in Emily's eyes momentarily robbed her of breath. Knowing what it took for the other agent to make such a request, she was humbled by the trust she was now given.
"Absolutely," she responded, walking over to Emily's side and taking the woman's hand. Together they entered the guestroom and pulled down the covers so that Emily could settle in, while JJ leaned against the headboard. The younger woman grabbed a book from the night table. One of her sisters had forgotten it during her last visit and JJ had been meaning to read it ever since. It seemed like now was as good a time to start as any. "I'll just sit here and read and you go to sleep, how's that?"
Emily nodded, her head buried into the pillow. She was embarrassed to have had to ask JJ to babysit her while she fell asleep, but the day had been harder than she thought, and somehow the familiar surroundings, spending time with JJ and Henry, being 'normal', made her feel more vulnerable than she ever had during the months she'd been hunting Doyle. There were reasons for that, she was sure, but she was too tired to start psychoanalyzing herself at that point. She needed to sleep, and knowing that JJ was right there next to her, turning pages every now and then, just might help her to get some rest before the nightmares awoke her again.
As the morning arrived, JJ was fast asleep, curled on her side. The book was pressed against her, one of her hands unconsciously gripping it. Her other hand was next to her head, holding the hand of the woman who had slept the whole night through, peacefully.