Fandom: Criminal Minds
Disclaimer: Not mine.. I wish it's mine..
Author's note: Sorry for the long delay. I have finished this a few weeks ago but alas, my beta got the swine flu and she wasn't able to beta for me. And I want to wait till she got better. She is fine now and I'm so happy. :)
Okay, so finally we reach chapter 8. There will be more quotes in this chapter because it was first intended to be 2 different chapter but I changed my mind. I hope you enjoy this and I hope you're not bored with me.
Dedication: deadcute the love of my love.. And of course, Ex, you're just the best.
Previous chapters: Chap 1 , Chap 2 , Chap 3 , Chap 4 , Chap 5 , Chap 6 , Chap 7
And this is...
“A child understands fear and the hurt and hate it brings”
Location: Children Ward, Potomac Hospital, VA.
Hotch was relieved when Garcia informed him that Emily was fine and that JJ was with the brunette at the moment. He had been worrying about the two women – especially about Emily. He wanted to go and see Emily, but he couldn’t leave the little girl alone.
The unit chief glanced at the girl sitting up straight on the hospital bed, eating a bowl of soup a nurse had brought her earlier. Hotch was still unsure what to call the girl. Would she respond if he called her Savannah? Did she remember that she was not Lucy before two years earlier? Would she freak out if he called her Lucy? The dark-haired man sighed audibly. Cases with children were always the hardest, but usually he had Emily to deal with children.
Emily Prentiss... the woman was gifted with children, Hotch thought. No matter how difficult, how insecure the children were, they usually warmed up pretty quickly to Emily. Now he was the one who had to talk to the kid – a victim, yet also an accomplice in Emily’s kidnapping. Hotch didn’t know if he should pity the child or if he should feel nothing at all.
Hotch glanced at his watch, it was only a couple of hours before dawn. The child should sleep, but from what he saw, the chance of her falling asleep was slim to none. It seemed like the girl was used to being up in the wee hours of the morning. He was thinking of talking to the girl right now, before child services and her real parents arrived, and he finally decided to do so.
The man walked inside the room. He stopped a couple of steps away from the bed, hoping that he wouldn’t scare the girl. The blond-haired girl looked up; her blue eyes meeting with Hotch’s dark ones.
“Hi,” the man greeted softly. The girl replied with a faint smile. She didn’t say anything when Hotch asked her if he could sit by the bed, but she nodded slightly as an answer. Before Hotch could say anything, the little girl spoke up.
“Where is my Mommy?” she asked with a tremble in her voice. Hotch saw that she was trying to hold back her tears and his heart broke at the sight before him. She was just a little girl; this was too much for her to bear – she didn’t deserve this.
“Your Mommy is fine, sweetie,” Hotch tried to assure her. He was half hoping that she would start screaming so he wouldn’t have to continue the conversation. To his surprise, she only said ‘oh’.
“Is Emily okay?” the girl asked; she sounded braver this time.
Hotch nodded. This was clearly a good start. “How do you know Emily?” he asked back, hoping that she would tell him something important.
The girl shrugged. “Mommy talked about her all the time before she came to our house. She stays in my room, you know,” she replied without thinking. “She is a nice lady – she talked a lot when Mommy wasn’t around.”
“Did she talk to you?” Hotch asked, encouraging her to tell him more.
“Yeah, well... I don’t know. She looked at me but she called me by someone else’s name. I told her my name is Lucy, but she kept on calling me Jennifer. She was so sick, but I helped Mommy in taking care of her,” the girl – Lucy – stated. Then she leaned in, moving closer to Hotch. She whispered, “Mommy don’t like it when Emily say that name. She got angry.” She looked around to see if anyone was listening then continued, “I saw how she took care of Emily when she was angry – the same thing she did when she took care of me, too.” The little girl showed her bruised arm.
Anger built up inside Hotch when he heard the last things Lucy had said. Mendell had made the little girl see what she did to Emily! The paediatrician had told him about the extent of injuries on Lucy’s body – the healing bruises and cuts, but it never occurred to him that the woman had also tortured the child emotionally by letting her see the torture of another person. It was insane.
“Mister,” the blond girl called up when she saw that Hotch was lost in his thoughts. Hotch sobered up and looked at her intensely. He saw that the child’s emotional walls were on the verge of crumbling down. He could see tears welling up in her eyes.
“Yes, sweetheart?” he replied ever so softly.
A teardrop fell from one of her blue eyes. “Please... please don’t take me back,” she choked on her words and cried openly. She didn’t pull away when Hotch moved closer and took her into his arms. She grabbed Hotch’s shirt as if clinging on for dear life.
Lucy Mendell might not remember anything about her life as Savannah Taylor – but that might be the best thing that happened to her, not remembering, Hotch thought bitterly. How could someone – not to mention a child – survive something so terrible if they had memories of better times knowing that they would never be able to return to those memories?
Location: ICU, Potomac Hospital, VA.
JJ didn’t know how long she had cryied before falling asleep. She didn’t even remember falling asleep and was a bit embarrassed when the doctor woke her up, saying that her team was waiting outside. She smiled groggily and said that she would be right out.
The press liaison stood up and looked at Emily. The profiler looked so peaceful in her sleep and JJ smiled again. Welcome home, sweetie, she thought. JJ tucked a strand of the brunette’s hair behind her ear and without thinking, leaned in and kissed Emily’s forehead.
She blushed as she realized what she was doing and quickly withdrew. The blonde looked around and straightened up. She walked out of Emily’s room but not before whispering soothing words and promises that she would be right outside and would be back soon. “Sleep well, Emily. You’re safe now.”
Everyone could see that JJ had been crying – her eyes were red and puffy, but no one mentioned it to her. They knew she needed to let it out.
“How is she?” Morgan spoke up.
“She’s still asleep,” JJ replied. “I...” JJ didn’t know what else to say. She shook her head. Then she realized that Hotch wasn’t there. The blonde frowned. “Where is Hotch?” She asked.
“He’s still with the Taylor girl,” Rossi answered. The senior agent refused to address the little girl as Lucy, even though Hotch had called her that when he spoke on the phone with Rossi. He had seen the Taylors and he had seen what the kidnapping had cost the family. There was no way he would address the little girl by anything other than Savannah Taylor.
“And what about Mendell?” JJ asked again. She was curious about the interrogation now that Emily was safe with her. She looked at Rossi. “If you’re here this quickly, I bet she lawyered up pretty fast, huh?”
The older man looked annoyed. “She refused to say anything, demanding to see her daughter first. Told her she has no daughter. And yes, she lawyered up quickly. We’ll get to her, JJ. We’ll break her,” he explained. He nodded at Garcia and Reid. “Look at those two,” he pointed out.
JJ turned to see the two agents – each one with their hand on the door handle – arguing about who should go inside and see Emily first. She couldn’t help but smile at the scene before her.
“Let go!” Garcia demanded, glaring at the younger man. “I’m her best friend!” She pushed Reid a little to the side, but the man managed to keep the door handle in his grip.
He frowned. “JJ is Emily’s best friend,” he insisted. “The word ‘best’ is a superlative degree of adjective, so technically it means only one. There are no two ‘bests’. By all means, if JJ is Emily’s best friend, then you can’t be it. One can’t have...”
“Well, I’m her better friend then! And who are you again? Oh, yes, you’re only a good friend. For a genius, Reid, you can be pretty thick. If you realize, ‘better’ is the comparative degree of the word ‘good’. And if you remember, ‘better’ comes after ‘best’ so it is the second best. And you? A boring plain ol’ positive,” the woman argued back. “Now scoot before I hurt you!”
Reid was at a loss of words. He pouted and let Garcia in. The young agent grumbled behind the woman, “I’m a doctor.”
“I heard that,” Garcia said without looking.
Morgan patted the younger agent on the shoulder and told him to get in line. “Emily’s not going anywhere, kid.”
JJ sighed. That was what she kept telling herself too. Emily was not going anywhere anymore – and she would make sure of it. The young woman took a seat. She was tired but she didn’t want to go home and leave her friend. She looked up when Rossi sat beside her.
“You okay?” the man asked, concerned. He had never seen the younger woman look so torn and tired before and he wondered if JJ was going to break down.
The young woman looked up to meet Rossi’s dark gaze. “Yeah,” she replied after a moment. Honestly, she didn’t know if she was okay. She didn’t think about it. She furrowed her brows and nodded. “Yeah, I’m okay. Emily’s safe now.”
Rossi looked at JJ seriously. He didn’t believe her, but it wasn’t his place to push the young agent. If she didn’t want to talk, he had no right to push her to talk to him. He patted her on the shoulder. “If you ever need to talk, you know where to find me.”
JJ smiled. “Thanks,” she said softly. Rossi’s phone rang then and the senior agent left to answer it. JJ glanced and saw that Morgan and Reid were conversing about something a couple of seats away from her. She looked at her watch. It was almost morning but no one seemed eager to head home and get some rest even though they had been working tirelessly for more than 24 hours without proper sleep. If only you knew that you are this loved, Emily, JJ said in her mind. She sighed.
Emily was still fast asleep when JJ finally came back in the room and JJ was glad that her friend hadn’t woken up. She took a seat by the bedside and watched her friend sleeping. She’s a beauty, JJ thought, and for some reasons she couldn’t explain, she felt her heart beating faster. She reached out and took Emily’s hand, holding it. The warmth of Emily’s hand seeped into her own and it calmed her.
Emily is alive. She is here. She is safe now, she thought. She studied Emily’s face and was relaxed by the peacefulness that was etched on her face. ”Sleep well, Emily,” she whispered when she saw Emily stirred a little without waking up. “I will be here when you’re awake.”
"But in the garden of simple, where all of us are nameless, you were never anything but beautiful to me."
“You’re just an empty cage, girl, if you kill the bird.”
Emily opened her eyes gradually but quickly closed them again since the light hurt her sensitive eyes. She opened them more slowly this time and all she saw was blurry images. The woman blinked a couple of times to clear her vision and she wondered where she was.
She heard a steady beep somewhere above her and she smelled medicine. What happened? she thought. She couldn’t move and her body hurt like hell. She lay still and let the memories rush back to her. Her eyes widened as she started to remember everything – every single touch, every single beating, every single cut, and every single time she had drifted away. Her body tensed. Where am I? Am I awake? Her mind raced and her heart beat faster. Then she felt someone holding her hand and her first reaction was to move away from the touch. No, get away from me! Get away from me! Emily screamed inside her head. She panicked. She heard the beep go faster and it hurt her ears, too. The brunette tried to yank her hand away but she still couldn’t move. She blinked furiously, hoping that she would wake up in a different place when she opened her eyes.
JJ heard the rapid beeping and she woke up. She didn’t really feel the stiffness on her neck from sleeping at a funny angle when she saw Emily blinking rapidly with a panicked look on her face. JJ reached the call button and pressed it over and over.
“Emily,” she called, fear filling her voice. She cupped Emily’s face, half forcing the older woman to look at her. “Emily, it’s JJ. Look at me!” she demanded. “Come on, Emily, it’s JJ. Please, look at me, Emily.”
JJ’s voice pierced into Emily’s cloud of thoughts. She recognized that voice – she would always recognize it; again, she wondered if she was dreaming. Her blinking stopped and she could see a pair of worried blue eyes looking at her. Her body relaxed a little, but then she realized that her face was being held and she started to panic again. Her eyes widened as she thought that she was going crazy; JJ – or someone who looked like her – was going to hurt her.
“No,” she finally able to let out a sound, a hiss. “Don’t... touch me!” Emily gritted her teeth.
The blonde was shocked when she heard the words and she let go of Emily’s face at once. Emily’s voice was raspy and hoarse, and it was clear that the brunette didn’t know where she was or who JJ was. Emily was still disoriented. The blonde took a step away from Emily, afraid of scaring her friend. The moment JJ let go, Emily seemed to calm down. By the time a nurse and a doctor rushed in, the older woman had stopped panicking. She was staring blankly at the ceiling.
“What happened?” the doctor asked.
JJ couldn’t avert her eyes from Emily but she managed to answer, “I... she woke up and panicked. I didn’t know...”
The doctor checked Emily’s vitals and everything before turning back to JJ. “Her vitals are strong and good. No problem on that part,” he said. “But I don’t think she knows where she is now,” the doctor added. “Given that she had almost overdosed when she got here, I can’t give her anything to help her sleep. Her body still needs to catch up with her, though, and she’ll go back to sleep in no time. Did she say anything at all?”
JJ hesitated before finally answering, “Yeah. I was trying to stop her from hurting herself and I touched her face. She was... I guess she was afraid of me.”
The doctor nodded understandingly. “Like I said, she still doesn’t know where she is, but she will be fine. Just let her rest a bit,” he said. “I’ll ask the nurse to bring you a blanket. You seem like you can use some rest, too.”
JJ smiled. “Thank you, but I’m fine. Is my team still outside?” she asked. She had asked them all to go home and get some rest before she went back into Emily’s room, but she didn’t know if they had listened to her or not.
“I think there is still one agent in the waiting room, said he’s waiting for you. I didn’t see him earlier, though,” replied the doctor. Then he left the room after reminding JJ again to avoid making the patient panic.
After the doctor left the room, JJ took the chair and moved it a little farther away from the bed, just in case Emily felt threatened. She regarded the sight in front of her and her heart broke. Emily lay still on the bed with no expression. JJ waited until the woman slowly closed her eyes and drifted back to sleep before leaving the room to see Hotch – she was sure it was Hotch who was waiting outside.
Hotch expected the disorientation; he had talked about it with Rossi earlier on the phone. What he didn’t expect was the lack of emotions after the panic attack JJ told him about. Emily was very good at hiding her feelings and shoving her emotions under the carpet, and if she continued to do so in this situation, it would be a lot harder for her to heal emotionally. Hotch was worried about her. And, glancing at JJ, he was worried about the blonde, too. JJ looked shocked and lost, and she was too proud to admit it.
“It’s okay to admit that you need help, you know,” the unit chief said softly after a few minutes of silence.
JJ turned her head to the side to face Hotch. “What?” she said; she didn’t know if she had heard him correctly.
Hotch looked at JJ. “I said it’s okay to admit that you need help,” he repeated. “You are not alone in this. We are Emily’s friends, too. It wasn’t your fault that someone took her away – you are not responsible for anything that happened in the past 48 hours. No one is blaming you – I believe Emily isn’t, either – so you have to stop blaming yourself for something you didn’t have control of.”
“She’s my best friend, Hotch,” JJ began. “I should have taken better care of her.”
“Emily is not a child; she can take care of herself. And you’re not her mother; you are her friend. Friends are there for each other and well, you are here for her now. Emily wouldn’t ask for anything more.”
JJ sighed. Of course Emily wouldn’t ask for anything more; she was the sweetest person JJ had ever known. She knew Hotch words were right – but she still felt awful for not taking better care of Emily. The older woman had always been there for her and JJ wanted to be there for Emily, too. She then thought what if it had been Garcia who had been kidnapped. Would she be as worried? The computer expert was her best friend, too – no matter what Reid said about superlatives only meaning one. JJ didn’t want to know the answer to that. She didn’t want to think about it – because deep down in her heart she knew that if it had been Garcia, Emily would have been there for her through everything and all would have been better. Deep down, she knew that if it had been Garcia she wouldn’t feel this bad. But why? she asked herself, then stopping the thought before she could answer her own question, afraid of what the answer would be.
Emily stirred slightly before opening her eyes. She stared at the ceiling for a few minutes before finally examining the room that she was in. She looked around and was a bit relieved when she saw that she was alone. Lifting her arm, she saw that she was connected to a monitor and an IV tube.
The woman sighed. I’m at the hospital, she thought. She didn’t remember anything about how she got there but she knew that she was safe now. She shuddered as the memory of what had happened flowed back to her but she managed to control herself. Control yourself, Emily Prentiss! she reminded herself. The flashes of emotions on her face were gone in an instant, leaving a very composed – expressionless – Emily.
She jumped a little when she heard someone open the door and she felt blood rush to her brain. Who is that? Who is that? her mind raced when a person walked through the door. She stared.
“Emily?” JJ asked softly when she saw that Emily was wide awake and looking at her bewilderedly. She approached the bed but she maintained her distance as to not scare Emily.
The brunette couldn’t think coherently when she saw JJ and heard her voice. Is she real? she asked herself. She didn’t respond when the woman in front of her called her name again. Are you real, Jennifer? she repeated the question to herself.
Emily didn’t realize that she had voiced her thought until JJ replied, “Yes, Emily, I’m real.” Her voice was full with emotions.
Emily’s voice was rough as if the older woman had forgotten how to use it, and JJ felt a pang inside when she heard it. She wanted to move closer and hug her friend, but she was afraid that any sudden movements would scare Emily off so she didn’t do anything.
“Jenn... JJ,” Emily managed to whisper, stumbling upon names. She had never called JJ ‘Jennifer’ in front of the blonde before – she had called JJ that earlier because Emily thought that she was talking to herself. Emily tried to lift one of her arm – the one that wasn’t connected to the IV – and she anticipated the invisible chain that would stop her from moving. But there was no chain now; her arm moved slowly up to where she wanted it to and Emily was relieved. For the first time in she didn’t know how long, she had control over her own body again.
JJ took a couple of steps forward when she saw Emily’s hand lift up, but then stopped when she saw how uncomfortable Emily looked as she got closer. It hurt her to know that she had made her friend uncomfortable, but it hurt her more to see the struggle for self-control in Emily’s eyes – something that usually came naturally to the brunette.
Emily tried to suppress her instinct to back away as JJ moved closer to the bed. Come on, Prentiss! It’s JJ! It’s Jennifer, your friend! she scolded herself. But what if it isn’t? What if it’s just your way to block the monster behind the mask? another voice, colder and meaner, added. Emily felt as if someone just poured a bucket of cold water on her. She looked at the younger woman, who looked confused now, and swallowed. She couldn’t do this. She opened her mouth to say something, but JJ beat her to it.
“Emily, it’s okay. I won’t hurt you,” the blonde said softly. “I’m not going to move closer, okay? It’s alright.” JJ pointed to the chair next to Emily’s bed. “I’m just going to move the chair over here,” she said, trying her best not to cry.
The taller woman watched as JJ moved the chair farther from the bed and sat in it. She was angry at herself for not being able to control her fear. You are a Prentiss, she reminded herself. You could do this, no matter what. Emily felt so drained and tired all of a sudden and her eyelids began to close. No one could break me was her last thought before she fell asleep.
Seeing that Emily was asleep now, JJ didn’t bother to hold back her tears. She cried silently, biting her lower lip so that she didn’t make any sounds. What happened to you, Emily? What has she done to you?
“What breaks in a moment may take years to mend.”