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: previous chapters on my profile.
A huge thank you to rabirhek for the suggestions and the kind support.
3. Penelope turns at the soft thud on the door and a big smile lights her face. “Hei there, stranger! I looked for you five minutes ago but you were nowhere to be found. You just arrived?”
“Actually I came in early this morning, Hotch is letting me sit in JJ’s former office to avoid all the sensationalism of my coming back…” Emily justifies standing still at the door, while a feeling of awkwardness starts creeping up on her.
“It must be pretty daunting to find yourself under the magnifying glass, uh? But if it helps, you look amazing; you could easily be FBI version of Angelina Jolie” Penelope gives her a reassuring smile.
“Yeah, well it’s a shame they didn’t include Brad Pitt in the package..” Emily plays along trying to ease the atmosphere “it’s kind of weird to be the object of so much gossip, but it’ll pass as it passed for Angelina” she responds, more trying to convince herself than Garcia.
Penelope stares at her friend uncertain, a turmoil of feelings and questions crowding her stomach, and finally blurts out almost in a whimper “Emily, I tried to find a way to say this so many times, but it seems there’s no way not to make it sound awkward, so I’ll just let it out before I explode..”
“Okay?” Emily takes a seat in front of the analyst and waits for her to carry on.
“I don’t know what you did and where you’ve been in the last months” not seeing any snap in the counterpart, she gathers her courage and goes on “A part of me wants to keep it this way, forget what happened and have my Emily back, but I know it’s a childish illusion. I can’t imagine what you’ve been through out there all alone, and I don’t know if you want to talk about that, but if you do just you know that I’m right here anytime you need me. Okay?”
Penelope hasn’t changed, she’s this formidable shiny soul, always ready to provide comfort and friendship, always looking out for her friends and running to help them to get up when they fall. She moves comfortably in this net of relationships, knowing exactly where to find everybody and how to handle them, like a pianist who could play his melody blindfolded in a dark room, easily reaching for the right keys, following his experience and instinct. But right now Penelope is lost with me, she tries to catch glimpses of her old friend in my gestures, in my words and expressions, sometimes she succeeds and so I can see her face brighteingn up and her eyes shining. But other times I see her uneasiness while she wanders through unfamiliar territories, desperately searching for known features and taking in new details to learn her way around. She’s making a huge effort out of her love for me, for her Emily, but she’s deadly scared when she offers me her comfort.
She’s terrified of what she could ear, she’s terrified to discover that what she dreads already is true, that you can’t bargain your way out of hell without compromises.
She’s terrified, but still she doesn’t run away, on the contrary she reassuringly smiles at me with open arms as if to say ‘No worries, everything will be all right’.
She’s terrified, but she stays holding my hands and I almost break in tears before her astounding bravery.
I can’t help but trust her, blindly.
“JJ also told me that you found a house…” Garcia then moves to a more comfortable topic, still with a bit of uncertainty as if knowing that the person in front of her is a lot like her Emily, but not quite yet.
“Ouch” is the only comment the brunette voices.
“A dead man’s house, Emily… Really?” Penelope settles a little, feeling she’s regaining the reins of the situation; she smiles relaxed recognizing her old friend and feels comfortable in pushing the conversation further.
“Next step, are you organizing a séance?” She tilts her head on one side surveying Emily’s glare “I mean, I have a lot of spare candles if you want..”
Emily chuckles “Thanks Garcia, I’ll keep that in mind, even though at the moment I am far more interested in interacting with the livings” she counters; she feels safe in this office, she takes a look around recognizing a lot of familiar pictures and colorful odds and ends, but also some new addictions. Finally her eyes fall on a corner on the wall covered with pictures.
“Oh, that’s the smiling wall” Garcia explains noticing what caught Emily’s attention “All the people that count in my life are there, so when I’m overwhelmed by a case I stare at it and it helps me to remember how much love surrounds me”.
Emily can’t help a smile to come out and for a moment it feels like everything is normal, like back in the old times, when just like any other day she would chat with Garcia during a short break, it feels like these months of separation never happened “There’s a pretty big bunch of people on your smiling wall, you’re lucky” she comments, trying to hold on to this feeling of familiarity.
“Yeah, well.. there’s all of you, Kevin, the team, then your families and kids, JJ’s, Hotch’s and well.. next turn is either you or Morgan or Reid… Any plans about that?” she grins maliciously and then sobers immediately noticing Emily’s hand moving to her lap and looking away.
“Oh my god… Is everything ok? I mean after your injury, I didn’t think…” she panics tripping over the words and almost breaking in tears.
“It’s all right Pen, everything is still in place and my wound healed nicely without complications” she reassures “Physically all is good, but honestly I wouldn’t count on me to fill another spot on that wall soon..” she makes a quick move to the door “Now I have to go and do some actual work, I’ll see you later, ok?” she smiles at the abashed analyst.
“Emily.. I am mortified, I…”
“Pen. It’s okay. I’m not going anywhere, I’m fine physically and you all can stop walking on eggs around me. It’ll take time but we’ll all be fine. I promise” she grants taking the analyst’s hands in hers and manages to steal her a smile “Listen, why don’t you come over to my place one of these nights? We drink a glass of wine, you tell me how it’s going with Kevin and I get to convince you that there’s nothing creepy about my house”
Penelope straightens in joy on her chair in response to the invitation she didn’t hope to get, and shakes her head in confirmation “Have a good first day back, my friend” she hugs Emily before going back to her job.