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9 Crimes [2/4?]

Title: 9 Crimes [2/4?]
Author: Alsike
Rating: PG-15
Fandom: X-Men/Criminal Minds
Pairing: Emma Frost/Emily Prentiss
Disclaimer: I do not own X-Men or Criminal Minds.  Title stolen from the song by Damien Rice.
Apologies:  This is kind of short, but it felt like a good breaking off point.  (*snickers*)

Summary: Takes place a few weeks after Commodum Ex Iniuria ends.  Recovery is slow, and we walk with our past upon our shoulders.

 

Emily poured the tea.  “Why are you here?”

“What do you mean?”

“Why did you knock on my door?  Even old friends who I don’t think died long ago don’t just drop in.”

Ororo tapped the side of her cup.  The jasmine blend reminded her of mornings she had awoken in the forest, soft hints of sun finding their way through the trees.  “I was surprised to hear your name again, particularly in conjunction with Emma Frost’s.”

Emily’s eyes widened.  She frowned, then pressed her forehead in irritation.  “You’re an X-Man, of course.  I should have recognized you years before.”

“Low quality news footage does not make for easy identification of childhood friends.”

“And you don’t braid your hair anymore.”

“Not often.”

Emily shook her head.  “I still…  But just dropping in?”

Ororo leaned forward.  “How do you know Emma?”

Emily stiffened.  “This is about that?  She was right.  Emma Frost condescending to even argue with a human is so out of character for her that you mount a vast information gathering operation to find out what horrible treachery is coming your way.”

“She has not proven herself trustworthy in the past.”

Emily shrugged.  “What do you want to know?  I can’t tell you if she’s been screwing with my mind or has some nefarious scheme planned.  It wasn’t exactly our usual topic of conversation.”

Emily looked bitter and upset and Ororo considered backtracking swiftly.  But if just mentioning the White Queen’s name was enough to cause such a reaction, the questions might be worth pursuing.

“The coincidence of it being you was by far the most surprising part.”

Emily let out a faint huff that seemed intended to be a laugh.  “Small world?”

“In my experience it is rather large until there is a reason for it to shrink.”

“I don’t want to talk about her.  So if you must interrogate me, do it quickly.”

Ororo shook her head.  “I don’t want to interrogate you, but…”

“But Emma doesn’t have human friends,” Emily filled in.  “I know.  She mentioned that.  Does she have human fuck buddies?  Would that clear up the trouble if that was all our relationship entailed?  Because we’re not friends.  I’m not in contact with her.  We just needed each other for a while, but we don’t anymore.  We survived.”

Ororo was making another disapproving face.  ‘Fuck buddies’ was not a term she appreciated.  Emily caught her expression and winced.  “All that living in Islamic countries didn’t rub off too much, did it?”

Ororo arched an eyebrow.  “Are you asking if I am homophobic?  I would have little leg to stand on if I were.”  Emily frowned, clearly wondering if that was a confession.  “But you should be more respectful of your body.  Mere pleasure should not be worth damaging your self respect.”

Emily closed her eyes and took a breath.  Then she smiled, almost amused.  “It wasn’t like that.  I almost wish it were.  It would be easier if my self respect were all that was injured.”

“Has she hurt you?  You said you would not know if she had touched your mind.”

“She threatened to, many times.  But she never took the last step.”

“Are you certain?”

“I told her to do it, to rip herself from my memories.  It would have hurt less.  But she wouldn’t do it.”  Emily touched her mouth.

“She hurt you.”  It was an understatement, but all she could manage.  And Ororo began to consider how she could inadvertently electrocute Emma again.

“She saved my life.”

The thing that had changed the least about Emily to Ororo’s mind was her wide-open face.  All her emotions were written there in broad lines and though you might not know what she was thinking, her feelings were as clear as the sky on a bright day.  It was this that kept Ororo prying, even when faced by Emily’s amusement at questions about inexplicable lapses in memory, or important meetings that she had only the barest recollections of.  But there was nothing.  Emily bore no signs of possession, of use, only the grief of a woman who had been rejected in the most mundane of ways.  And that grief was displayed with a mocking self-loathing that Ororo knew better than to attribute to Emma’s intervention.  Those were the marks of Emily’s mother alone, and Ororo was angry about her past, for the first time not because of her loss, her suffering, but for the loss of her chance to help another.

*            *            *

Jean was smiling at her again.  It was repulsive.  Emma hated being trusted, and now all she could think of was Emily’s incredulous disbelief when she warned her that she had no place in her plans.  She had plans.  She was the type of person who would choose power over anything else.  And Jean’s hopeful expression, her sudden belief that Emma might actually be one of the ‘good ones’ was so irritating as not to be spoken of.  She didn’t want to be trusted.  She didn’t deserve to be trusted, not after the things she’d said…

Every night Emma woke up with nightmares.  Their content varied, she had enough horrific images that her unconscious was not strained into making things up.  but the ones that had plagued her of late were worse than usual.  Her dreams mocked her.

After Genosha she had been hammered with the memories of seeing her children dying.  Her students: torn apart by falling beams, bleeding out from the broken glass, crushed under brickwork and the sentinels’ footsteps.  They cursed her, even after death, blamed her, begged for help, cried out for their parents, asked after their friends, asked why.  She had woken up, sweaty and freezing, and Emily had been there.  Splaying her fingers over her warm back, feeling it tense and relax as she breathed, burying her face in her hair and breathing in its scent, all the stronger after days sweating in the African sun, had been the only thing that kept her sane.  Right there she could focus on the life, remember that there still was life.  She was not alone in an empty world.

But now the dreams played tricks on her.  She would wake from one nightmare to the next, Emily limp and cold in her arms, in her bed.  No way to rouse her, nothing left.

And when she woke up again, she was alone.

Alone, she couldn’t remember if she had saved her, or if she really was gone.

*            *            *

Seeing Ororo had woken up far too many emotions that Emily preferred to keep buried.  The anger at her mother had resurfaced and multiplied, and the guilt that always accompanied it left her sick and tired.  How dare she, Emily asked over and over again, how dare she die before I had the chance to tell her how much she hurt me?  But it was unfair to be angry with the dead.

The story of Emma switching minds with Ororo hadn’t been as shocking as Ro seemed to expect it to be.  Emma was petty, vindictive, selfish.  She knew that.  She didn’t want to be warned about her.  She wanted to stop thinking about her.  It would be nice to be able to write everything she did off as a sign of an evil nature, but she had seen much worse done, and evil had always been too bland and simplistic a word.

In Buddhism, enlightenment was often known as awakening, awakening from the dream of the world to its reality.  She sometimes thought that the dream was the search for meaning.  It was meaning that seemed to be the cause of most of the evil in this world, valuing things like racial pride, believing that destroying a symbol of a thing would rid you of its curse, that killing a woman would break the rein your mother put on you.  It was magical thinking, the doctrine of signatures, sticking pins into a doll of cloth and expecting it to bleed.

But what else was there?  If you saw the true emptiness of reality, the random death, the violence of ignorance, how could you bear to survive?

The tiredness and melancholy stayed with her throughout the week.

It was a week of paperwork, of statistics and graphs, mindless fussy work that was a relief from thought.  At the end the team had a party, to push away the shadows left as pictures of forgotten victims crossed their desks, and the guilt for betraying the promise to never forget such an atrocity rose up like their gorge.

Emily drank, knowing that everyone was worried about her, trying to have fun, trying to be social.  When the party started fading, Emily, feeling buzzed and only partially connected to her body, was disappointed.  JJ was apparently her assigned babysitter for the night, sitting next to her and sipping soda, and looking at her with dark worried eyes.  Emily was starting to wonder if all of this was her fault.  She waited.  She always waited too long.

When Ororo left, with a hand squeeze that was almost painful in its intensity, and leaving her cell number scrawled on the pad beside Emily’s phone, more than she had ever gotten from Emma, Emily had thought about kissing her.  She could almost feel it; she had been so close to doing it.  It might have only ended up being a pathetic lunge for connection with a long lost friend, but it would have been something.  But she waited, and it ended up being nothing, like everything else.

JJ rubbed her shoulder.  “Hey, are you okay?  Everyone’s gone.  Do you want me to drive you home?”

“Don’t want to go back there,” Emily mumbled, not enough out of it to be unaware of what JJ’s touchy-feely tendencies were doing to her.

“No?”  She heard the chuckle in JJ’s tone and scowled.  “Are there monsters?”

Easily and charmingly JJ tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear, her hand stayed and threaded through Emily’s thick dark locks.  Emily stiffened and pulled away.

“Don’t touch me like that.”

JJ looked surprised and confused.  She strung her fingers through her own hair.  And Emily was so sick of waiting.

She kissed her.

*            *            *
Part 3

 

Tags: criminal minds, emma/emily, x-men
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