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.
Something's off, but I as much as I try, I can't make it right, as much as I try, so there you go: part four.
4.Reid is dragging himself to the elevator when he notices the single light still on in JJ’s office. He startles for a second, still not used to the idea of seeing that office taken again, then he remembers and it feels like he’s safe at home again.
Surprisingly he can’t bring himself to be upset with Emily, he wasn’t the first time when she walked away from the bullpen, and even more so he can’t blame her for a choice that, not only was painful and unavoidable, but was taken by others on her behalf. He can’t bring himself to be mad at JJ and Hotch either for taking the burden of silence.
Reid is too tired to lose time over fights and pressing questions, he desperately needs some comfort and friendship and all he can see right now is that one of his dearest friends, whom he believed lost forever, is back. All he can think is second chances are not to be wasted in grudge and resentment.
He knows this is not typical of him, the old Reid would be deadly mad at Emily, he would never trust her again and probably would refuse to work with her because you can’t trust someone who lied to your face for five years, because she is a stranger, because he told her his secrets and then she vanished. But this new Reid knows better, he knows why Emily did all what she did, he knows how much bravery she is capable of, especially when it comes down to protect her family; he has seen the pain, the fear and the desperation in her eyes and he has recognized something he’s familiar with, the weariness and the exhaustion.
Emily came back and first thing she did was seeing straight through to the core of his hidden fears, and he can’t overlook that.
“Working late hours?” Reid approaches her standing at the door of the office.
She raises her head, eyes wide not expecting anybody else to be in given the late hour, then seeing a familiar face she relaxes “Well I’m in probation, I have to show the boss I worth the money I get” she jokes before explaining “Hotch asked me to consult on some cases and since I need to keep myself busy and I don’t have good books to read… here I am”
Reid looks at the desk where once JJ used to sit before leaving “Hotch had to take another profiler, you know?”
“Yes he told me. And I understand it, Seaver is brilliant but she’s not experienced. So what’s his name again?”
“Lloyd” Reid answers with flat voice, then noticing her questioning look he goes on “he’s coming from a desk job, for real this time” he says it without malice, almost playfully but it makes Emily chuckle “He’s really…. meticulous”
“It’s good, isn’t it?” she prompts.
“Thorough is good, stubborn is good, meticulous is… dull. He uses a color code for his files and he matches the color of the paper clips. And he wears stockings of the same color of his tie..” well hearing Dr Reid addressing someone else’s idiosyncrasy is definitely something new she thinks while she chuckles in complicity, secretly relieved because she’s not the only one finding this character odd. Then she gets serious again, she needs to get this straight with him “Reid… I know it’s hard to have me back here out of the blue, and this is the reason why I’m in this office doing paper work instead of in the bullpen working cases with you. If I see that the team works better with him than with me, I have to be honest, no matter what Hotch and Strauss decide, I’m not going to claim my spot back”
“How can he fit in better than you, Emily!?!?” Reid objects upset.
“It’s been a long time Reid, and you all have been through a lot of changes, a new unnecessary emotional earthquake is the last thing you need. I can’t expect to win back you trust just in a snap, and you know how trust is crucial especially in the field. So let’s not jump to conclusions, ok?”
Reid reluctantly nods, knowing already what his final decision will be; he’s about to go away when he notices the sport bag and the running shoes beside her desk, “Wow, do you find also the time to go to the gym?” he comments surprised.
Emily drops her pencil on the desk with a bitter smile “Why do you work so late, Reid?”
“Because there’s a lot of work to do” he stutters taken aback.
“Sure? Because I don’t see anyone else of the team, not even Hotch in here. Just you.”
Reid looks down at his shoes, not saying anything.
“I think we both know that the only way to keep demons away is to be too busy or too tired to listen to them. Am I right?”
The young doctor nods silently and looks at her with the expression of a kid caught with his hands in a cookie jar.
“..But it’s not solution, just a crappy way to delay the moment we confront our fears” she carries on.
“Have you done that yet?” Reid asks shyly.
“Do I look like someone who reached the inner peace to you?” she sarcastically raises an eyebrow.
Reid chuckles, then turns serious “This is one reason why you should come back. I can’t talk to Lloyd… and he can’t play poker. I miss you.” He swallows the lump to his throat “And knowing that we could be a family again makes even harder to stand your absence”
Emily has to work hard to stop the tears from coming down and swearing him that if necessary she will cut Lloyd’s throat in order to be back. Instead she places a feeble smile and walks toward her friend “I wish it was so easy, Reid. But this doesn’t mean you can’t come and talk to me anytime you want, I’m not going anywhere. Now go home and catch some sleep” she squeezes his hand until she sees a smile on his face too.
She looks at him fading into the elevator with his usual fast pace, hands in his pockets, his bag over his shoulder and his purple scarf. She tries to picture him beside Lloyd, in a perfect suit, tie and socks matching; his files ordered by color accurately stored into a leather handbag, and she can’t help giggling.
Then she turns and grabs her bag and running shoes; the demons are going to wait for tonight.
The first month I used to give in to sobs as soon as I switched off the light, shaking and crying as a scared child. Then I learnt that if you lead your body beyond the threshold of exhaustion, where even breathing aches like hell, then sleep will come easily, you’ll drift into unconsciousness until your body recovers and in this state of blessed oblivion there’s no room for thoughts, memories or feelings. When the exception becomes the rule, the extreme the routine, it’s easy – and convenient- to lose the big picture, you go because you don’t have anywhere to stay, you go because you don’t know any better.
Whether I was hurriedly leaving one identity for the next one, or walking into my fake job, with my fake name and my fake story, or punching a bag and running ten miles a day to be prepared for the day I would confront Doyle again, or digging and squeezing my contacts to track him down; at the end of the day it all came down to the same conclusion, me being like a mouse running desperately through a maze, covering the same roads over and over with the foolish idea that it’s getting somewhere.
If only I had had an unsub to chase, I would have taken him down in real Derek Morgan style, instead I was stuck in a hopeless limbo of oblivion, where nobody was looking for me because nobody suspected there was still someone to look for.
Now, maybe there will still be unsubs to chase, maybe Emily Prentiss is not done yet, but sure she’s damaged to the core; a part of her is gone forever and god knows if she will ever be able to function again.
All the women I’ve been during this time are mashing together inside my head, uncertain whether to stay here a little longer in case they’re still needed or to take leave of me and fade into darkness together with Lauren and the other ghosts from the past.
So now I’m not sure I can tell who I am. What I know is that nobody can understand the mess hiding inside my head except my friends, they’re my only hope, the only light still flashing in the darkness. And if this time they decide they don’t want me back, I don’t know what I will do.
Here I am, in another impasse, waiting for judgment and dealing with what’s left of me.