Author: Sara Nublas
Character: Emily Prentiss main, all team involved
Summary: This is the sequel of my previous fiction 'Asteriscus hierochunticus', hence it takes place after the episode 6x18, the summary follows: after Emily is back to the BAU she realizes her return might not be as easy as everybody wished. The story is organized as a sequence of snapshots, each describing Emily's relationship with her friends one by one alternated to her reflections.
Warning: SPOILER to Lauren 6x18, it's not necessary to read 'Asteriscus hierochunticus' to understand it, it just makes more sense...
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters of the show Criminal Minds, I'm just borrowing them. No infringement intended
A/N: I would have liked to get a beta reader for that, but I was too impatient, so.. that's it. Please let me know what you think :)
1.There’s a smell of cheap disinfectant floating in the air of this apartment, it’s not exactly pleasant but apparently did the job because there are no traces of the mess that happened few months ago. Just a halo of a slightly darker hue where the blood impregnated permanently the wooden floor is left to indicate that the body was lying here, but aside from that the walls are impeccably stainless and freshly painted, you couldn’t say someone died in here.
This house is exactly what I need right now, four walls and a roof over my head, nothing cozy or familiar; it well recreates the atmosphere of the places where I’ve lived over the past nine months, no personal items, no pictures or books to warm up the environment, no traces of my presence; the clothes stay in the bag, except the ones I wear by the day, a gun is safely stored under the pillow and a picture of the team is beside the clock on the ground near the bed, it’s the only personal item I own, the only object that could betray me, but I need something to hold on to, something to remember who I am.
The previous owner left here a table with few chairs, a crippled sofa and a mattress; it’s all I need.
A soft thud at the door interrupted her thoughts “Emily?” JJ cautiously entered the apartment and immediately froze at the sight of the bare room, the big windows and the high ceilings exalting even more the desolated emptiness.
“Hi, JJ” Emily welcomed her with a bit of awkwardness. There would have been a lot of it in the future, it’s always difficult to understand which register to use with someone who came back from the dead, whether to pick up things where they were left or to acknowledge the uneasiness attempting to fill the gulf that was left by the absence.
“Sorry, the door was unlocked” the blonde justified her intrusion, still dumbfounded at the sight of the hovel where Emily decided to live “Emily, if you have money problems..”
The brunette caught her friend’s worry “No JJ, you don’t have to worry. I know this doesn’t exactly look like my style, but I didn’t want to fool myself with the promise of a stable life until I know for sure this could work”
“This?” JJ was more and more perplexed by the second.
“My return. It’s not that I come back after months of hiding and everything goes back to normal, and honestly I am not even sure I can still attribute a meaning to this word” she went on with a shrug “They were all happy to having me back and alive, but I don’t know how the team is going to react at the perspective of working with me in the field, I don’t know if I still have a spot and if they can trust me again. So before knowing what’s going to be I can’t start building anything solid, I couldn’t take it if I had to undo it all again” Emily immediately regretted her admission, not because she showed her weak side but because this caused a veil of pain to descend on her friend’s face and frankly what she hated most was the pity on people’s face, they made her feel a painful case and she’d had enough of this.
“I understand Emily, even though I believe you can find a temporary but more hospitable solution. This place seems the hideout of a drug dealer…” JJ commented bothered.
Emily welcomed that observation with a tip of resentment “yeah, I guess over the months I had the chance to gain a perspective of life very different from yours. The concept of home as a hospitable nest to come back to at night ceased to mean something to me a while ago” she said, and again she regretted not counting up to ten before opening her mouth, “When I was at the hospital visiting Morgan I heard two nurses talking about this apartment, and how despite being a deal nobody wanted to live in a former crime scene”
“A crime scene?” JJ echoed with even more worry than before.
“The previous tenant was some kind of artist who was shot, they actually never cleared if it was suicide or homicide, but for sure he wasn’t a snow flake and your hypothesis of the criminal hideout is probably not far from the truth. Anyway, the landlord gave it away for a ridiculous price because apparently many people find it creepy to leave in a house where someone deceased” she commented with a flat tone to which JJ reacted arching her eyebrow.
“And you’re are fine with that?” her friend inquired.
“Well, I find it kind of ironic… I faked my death, then I came back and now I live in a house where somebody died for real but in unclear circumstances. Fake ghost meets real ghost” her smile faded in front of JJ concerned expression “Just don’t tell Morgan about that, if he finds out I live here he will come by and renovate the house entirely” she tried unsuccessfully to relieve the her concern friend with a joking tone.
JJ finally gave up, she knew that if Emily decided something nobody was able to dissuade her, but her concern over her friend hadn’t diminished at all when she bid her goodbye, “I’m sorry for the brief visit but I have to go and pick up Henry at school. I’ll see you soon anyway, I believe Garcia is organizing a big welcome back dinner and we’ll all be there” she squeezed Emily’s hand who responded with a smile.
“Thank you JJ, for everything you did” she replied before closing the door behind her back.
You can’t understand it. You can’t possibly grasp the catastrophic effect that such a radical change of life has on someone. Keeping track of her movements, reading reports or handing paper bags with passports and bank accounts at a bistro in Paris is not enough to get it. You do your job and as ugly as it gets, at the end of the day you come back home to your family who helps you to get your humanity back.
When you hide for months like I did, there’s no escape from the desperation, the nightmare, the lie inside the lie; you can’t afford friends, acquaintances or reference points, it’s only you and your memories, which get more and more feeble each day. To become a ghost, to survive in the darkness without destination, it requires to dig out your primal instinct, to be driven by bare survivalism and nothing else, it’s a scary dark place where to venture and it’s easy to turn into a rabid beast. Many times I found myself soaking in grudge, because they trashed me into a cell and thrown the key away; I knew it was not the truth, they all loved me, but anger was all I had to hold on to, sometimes.
How can you explain that hell is not dying, hell is surviving to your own death? Hell is looking at the face in the mirror every morning clutching to the memories of your past identity, to the painful awareness that once you were real. This JJ can’t understand, nobody can.