Pairing: Emily Prentiss/Emma Frost
Summary: The members of the BAU are faced with hunting down a mutant killer. Other people may also be in pursuit. And Emily finds out that where there are mutants, divisive politics follow close behind.
Apologies: Sometimes I don't know if I'm writing these things, or if they're writing me. And I think my characterization has gone to hell, not that it was particularly good to begin with.
Two more addresses and nothing. Utah had its fair share of loonies, but homicidal mutants seemed to be in short supply. Emily shook her head as she glanced at the next address. They had apparently picked the deep woods pile, poor JJ. And the profiler actually was doubtful their unsub lived out in the woods, at least not habitually. Even if he killed in the woods, he was intrinsically tied to the town.
They ended up in Francis, a tiny town not really worthy of the name, and pulled up outside a small, well-appointed yellow house. A woman with the dress-sense of a fifties housewife opened the door and smiled, although not without trepidation, at the two women. Emily glanced at JJ who was always marked out to those who didn’t know her as the least threatening of the team. Apparently in this backwoods even she was a little too modern and aggressive.
“Hi, we’re looking for David Barry?”
The woman smiled, even more tensely if that was possible and she shook her head. “I’m afraid Davy isn’t here right now.”
“Is he your son?”
“Do you have any idea what time he’ll be back?”
“Oh, no. He…” the woman paused. “Why exactly are you looking for him?”
Emily glanced back and met JJ’s eyes. This one was suspicious, interesting. “We’re with the FBI.”
“The FBI! You can’t take him away! He’s done nothing wrong!”
“No one said anything about taking him away.” The woman was panicking.
JJ stepped forward. “Mrs. Barry! We just want to speak with him. That’s all.”
“I know about you! You take kids like him away!”
Emily frowned. “What kind of kids do you mean?”
Mrs. Barry stiffened. “I’m not talking to you anymore.”
“Is David a special child?” The woman was pale and clenching the doorhandle as if she were about to slam the door shut any moment. “Like Kristen? Did you know Kristen?”
“Kristen Stuart? Did you take her too?”
“You don’t know what happened to her?” JJ spoke softly. “She was killed. We’re worried that someone might be hunting mutants in this area. Is your son in danger?”
Mrs. Barry sank at the news, and stepped slightly aside, indicating that they could come in.
“I haven’t seen him for a few days. He’s been out camping in his truck since he graduated.”
“No college plans?”
Mrs. Barry shook her head. “He wanted to be a forest ranger, but they won’t take… children like him around here. He said that there might be someone coming to look for him. I thought you were the registry people.”
“No, we aren’t here for that.”
She nodded. “I see that now. Oh, poor little Kristen. I know Davy can take care of himself, but I can’t help but worry.”
JJ patted her hand.
“It’s just been so hard for Davy lately. The rejection by the forest rangers, and the other boys have been bullying him ever since that accident with Sandy.”
“Sandy? Sandy Tate?” Emily tensed.
“Yes. They were good friends for a long time, a lovely girl. But…”
“Oh, just silly things. It’s not important.”
JJ and Emily shared a communicative glance. “Where do you think David is camping?”
“I couldn’t say. He always find little hideaways, but he comes into town for supplies.”
“Thank you, I think that’s all.” The woman’s relief was palpable.
On the way out Emily paused at the door and look speculatively up at the clouds. “Tell me, if it got cold out, would Davy have any trouble starting a fire.”
“Oh no. No trouble at all.” She almost laughed as she shut the door behind them.
When they reached the car Emily glanced at JJ. “Not bad, for someone as pro-registration as you.”
JJ glared. “That kid did it. You know it as well as I do.”
Emily nodded. “But you got us in. Good move.”
This did not pacify JJ. “I don’t get you. I don’t get this world!” JJ shook her head. “I know you’re screwing one, but you can’t be blind to it. There are two types of mutants. The victims, like Kristen Stuart, and the killers, like David Barry. I know you think I’m sick, but I couldn’t have taken it if Henry had been a mutant. I don’t know what I would have done, but it would have been the same if he were autistic or anything else. You don’t know what it’s like to be a mother, to depend on someone else like that. And that poor woman who is going to have to find out that her son is a serial killer. Mutant or human, that is something you can never expect.”
“What about the heroes?”
“You said it once about us. What separates us from our subjects isn’t whether we kill, it’s why. And that isn’t a very big difference at all.”
Emily shook her head. “If you see mutants in only two categories, you have to see humans that way too. We see a lot of victims, but if there are only victims and killers, then what we’re doing is worthless. There have to be people who are just getting by, who aren’t touched by this.” Emily did her best to keep her shoulders from shuddering as words and warm images filled her head, the stories that Emma had told her, of normal children, normal people, who should have had normal, extended lives, and didn’t get that chance. “And just because sixteen million of them are dead, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist.”
JJ reached out for her elbow, but Emily jerked away and grabbed her phone. “I’m calling Garcia to track down Davy Barry’s truck. All we have here is forest rangers passing for cops, but hopefully even they can manage to set up a roadblock.”
* * *
Jean glanced over at Scott, stiff and impenetrable behind his crystal glasses. He took a bite of the hamburger, still staring at nothing.
“Scott… do you think Emma’s acting strangely?”
“What?” He finally looked at her, but it was with his brusque business face. Jean held back a sigh. “What do you mean?”
“She’s just been more…” Jean waved her hands, trying to express in words a feeling that had more to do with the color and shape of how someone inhabited their mental space. “More open.”
Scott blinked. “I hadn’t noticed.”
“Like how she didn’t want to come here, but then she didn't vote to leave, and giving Logan her room.”
“She said she had somewhere else to go.”
Jean pursed her lips. Emma having somewhere else to go was not the question. The woman she had thought had been sharing the mansion with them was one who would take the room, even if she didn’t use it, merely because she enjoyed other people’s discomfort. Their telepathic associate almost seemed to be in a good mood, which somehow felt more unlikely than her being possessed.
Jean thought back to the conversation she had witnessed the evening before. She had only heard the surface, but she would be a pretty poor telepath to not catch the signs of silent communication even when she wasn’t even trying to listen in. Practiced telepaths could turn off their body language, and be satisfied with mental replacements, and talented ones could make their stance seem natural, and even glance around looking bored while conversing with someone in the next room. Emma was a talented telepath who also had a natural ability to look bored no matter what the situation (Jean would have hated to have her as a student), but Agent Emily Prentiss was not.
Just from the tension in the muscles of Agent Prentiss’ back, Jean was certain that what had passed between them was an argument, but they walked out the door together, with a comfort that said it was not a fight. And when she had contacted Emma to inform her of their team meeting, the woman’s shields had been so far down, that even just a message had thrown up a dust cloud of turmoil and an intense intimacy that Jean hadn’t felt the likes of since… she looked at her husband, consuming his fries with the dedication of a machine… since Ororo had last stopped by the mansion.
Perhaps Emma had a friend. Rationally, this seemed unlikely, but Jean liked to think the best of people. And honestly, she hoped it was true.
That was when she heard the shout, echoing past all physical bounds. Jean forgot lunch, forgot the humans, forgot the car. Grabbing Scott she surged up into the sky, feeling the delightful dangerous burn that meant the powers she was using were not wholly her own.
* * *
<< Logan, pull over. >>
<< You find something? >>
<< Nope, but it sounds like our friends did. >>
Emily acknowledged her approach with a nod, she looked busy and tense as she spoke on the phone, but the blonde woman with her stiffened visibly, and Emma took a second glance. That morning she had barely noticed her because after walking in on them she had been flaring with shock, plain and simple, but this time there was a good dose of fear, annoyance and… jealousy? Emma grinned.
“So, what do we have?”
JJ glared at her. “We don’t have anything. Just because people seem to think you’re heroes, it doesn’t mean we have to work with you. For all we know this could be some big cover-up, protecting your own.”
“Davy Barry?” Emma asked, not that she needed verification. JJ’s mind had shouted it right as the question had been asked. “Drives a truck, some sort of previous incident with Sandra Tate?” Emma loved to see terror on a pretty face, especially if she had put it there. “Oh, please. If we were trying to cover this up you wouldn’t even remember why you were here.”
“You’re not comforting her,” commented Emily, hanging up her phone.
“I wasn’t really trying to.”
Emily displayed a complete lack of surprise.
“All right. We’ve got people looking out for Barry’s truck, ’84 Mitsubishi, silver, according to our goddess, whose all-seeing-eye stretches out even to this wilderness. Are you going to tell your people?”
Emma nodded. “Already done.”
“Okay, there should be a town center down this road. The officers are meeting us on the other side. I have some questions I want to ask them.”
As the group turned away, no one noticed the blue-flowered curtain in the window of the yellow house twitch closed.
* * *
The officers were late. Emma yawned and leaned on one of the cars.
“Lord, why are humans so incompetent?”
JJ bristled. “I’m surprised that you would say that.”
JJ’s eyes slid to Logan, smoking on the edge of the clearing, before she hissed, “Because you’re fucking one.”
Logan chuckled and JJ shot him a look, not expecting him to have been able to hear her. “Sorry, princess.” He tapped his nose. “You don’t want to know what I can smell about last night. It’s why I smoke these things. Trying to give people their privacy.”
“Oh, joy,” Emily muttered and turned away from the conversation.
“Come back here.” Emma caught her wrist and tugged her back.
JJ glared. “Don’t touch her.”
“Don’t touch her?” Emma pulled Emily into her chest and rested her chin on her shoulder, locking her in so she couldn’t easily escape. “You don’t mean ‘don’t touch her again’? I don’t imagine there are many places on her where my hands haven’t been.”
“Feeling a little objectified here,” interjected Emily, to the sole amusement of Logan.
“Using her for sex does not give you the right to touch her like that!”
“Like what?” Emma nearly growled. Her hands snuck under Emily’s shirt, one flicked open the button of her jeans. “Like this?”
Now Emily started struggling. “Totally not okay with this!”
“Get your hands off of her!”
“Oh please. Just because you’re kicking yourself for screwing up your chance to have her, doesn’t give you any right to try to keep me from taking what I want.”
“You can’t have her! She’s not anyone’s to own!”
“That turns you on, doesn’t it? Owning her… What would your husband and baby boy think if they knew what was in your head?”
JJ’s face was white, and this had gone too far. “Emma! Enough!” Emily broke out of her hold. She grabbed her arm and dragged her towards the woods. “Don’t do this to her. We’re barely friends anymore.”
The protection of trees closed them off for the moment.
“That’s not what I saw.” Emily stiffened. “Oh, stop fluttering,” Emma spat, “You’re only friends again because you forgave her for screwing you over. She doesn’t love you. She’ll never love you. She’s just jealous because she missed her chance to fuck you. She blew it, and I didn’t.”
Emily covered her eyes and shook her head. “You picked that fight. If she’s jealous, what are you?”
“I’m on your side.” Emma sneered while saying it, and Emily rolled her eyes.
“Bullshit. Are you worried you’ll lose your ownership? You seem to like that word.”
“Even if I cared, I wouldn’t have anything to worry about.” Emma’s tone was viciously derisive. “Stop dreaming. She has everything she wanted. She wouldn’t risk that for someone broken like you.”
Emily stepped back, gaping and slightly stunned. “Fuck you.” She shook her head, starting away.
“Where are you going?”
“I need to walk.” She shook her head again and disappeared into the woods.
* * *
The officers had arrived, and Emma felt guilty for chasing Emily away when she was the one who had questions for them. The youngest officer was standing off to the side and jumped slightly when she swept up behind him.
“You’re the one who knew Sandra Tate, correct?”
“My brother. My brother knew Sandy, Ma’am.”
Emma cringed at the ma’am. “Do you know David Barry?”
The strain was obvious on the young man’s face. “Is it true he did it? I’ll never forgive myself for not even thinking of him.” The boy was full of far too much guilt to be an effective police officer anywhere besides this area.
“Did you know about anything happening between him and Sandy?”
The tumble of anger and hatred flowing from his mind stung on Emma’s shields. “That asshole… He drugged her, and tried to… to take advantage. Mike got there before it went too far. He kept on saying that he hadn’t drugged her, that she had just fainted. But no one believed him.” He snorted. “Though maybe she passed out from the fumes.”
Emma blinked. “The fumes?”
“Yeah. Davy was known as the rotten egg man. He always stunk.”
“Fumes…” Emma’s eyes widened. “Shit.”
JJ glanced up, noticing that she was back for the first time. “Hey, where’s Emily?”
Emma didn’t bother to respond. She took off running into the woods.
* * *