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 the end! Well... the end of this bit. I have some ideas for the next part, but there may be a few shorter out of order bits before that one.
Summary: Takes place a few weeks after Commodum Ex Iniuria ends. Recovery is slow, and we walk with our past upon our shoulders.
Jean found her during the rebuilding of the school. The red glow hadn’t faded. Emma hated the flush of fear and the sharp pounding headache that overtook her any time the phoenix came near.
“Why are you still here?”
Emma had had enough of that question. She glared, as best she could. “Where the hell else am I supposed to be? You’re the one that ran away.”
Jean smiled in that way that made Emma feel like a hunted animal.
“I forgive you.”
Emma froze, never having been more blindsided. She heard the words twice, she realized. Her ears registered Jean’s voice, Jean’s pitiful self-sacrifice, Jean’s inability to forgive herself for things others had done. But in her head the phoenix spoke, and the words were utter disdain. She stared.
“What… what happened to you?”
And she saw Ororo open the door and reach out to catch the woman who still smoked like a hastily doused campfire as she fell apart. But the embers were still glowing, and when Jean needed strength to put herself back together, she had one source overflowing with it.
“What did you do to me?”
“I forgave you.” And it was the command of a goddess. “Don’t ask me to do it again.”
* * *
Emma didn’t go back to DC until nearly a month of judicious phone calls to the hospital, leeching information from Emily’s colleagues’ minds, and limited physical surveillance informed her that Emily had been allowed to return home, deemed self-sufficient once more.
Emily opened the door, her arm in a sling, and looked vaguely amused at Emma’s Ray-Bans. “Hello, stalker.”
“Good afternoon to you too.” Emma pushed past her, gently, and went inside, dropping onto the sofa.
“Have you come to explain yourself?” Emma looked blank. Emily sighed. “I didn’t think so.”
Emily uncorked a bottle of wine and took a drink without even pouring a glass.
“Do you mean Scott?”
“Why not give it a try? I’d love to see if you can come up with something new. Mutant flavored, maybe? Valuable genetic material? Progeny?”
“With Scott? You repulse me.”
“Then tell me your excuses. If you want to start with ‘we weren’t even in a relationship,’ I will tell you that we still aren’t and we won’t ever be. So you can leave.”
Emma scowled. “Why do I need to defend myself to you? I don’t need an excuse. I can seduce, drive mad, and destroy as I wish. That’s who I am. Whether or not Scott’s hands ever touched my body has nothing to do with you.”
“Fine. I concur. I’m glad we’re on the same page. You can go now.”
“Go! Leave me alone, so I can drink and pop ibuprofen in peace.”
“Why are you being like this?” Emma tried to get a read on her, but Emily’s mind was locked up tight.
“Because I don’t want you here! You’re fucking someone else, and I don’t want you!”
Emma stood up, using every inch of her greater height. “You don’t get to do this to me! You don’t get to tell me when I can stay and when I can go!”
“Oh, fucking hell! You are always the one who gets to blow me off! Over and over again you fuck me and leave. That’s all I’ve ever gotten from you!”
“You know that’s all I can give you! You know that being here now is more than I should do! More than you deserve!”
“More than I deserve? More than I asked for! I don’t need you!”
“You’re mine.” Emma spat back; she couldn’t even remember what they had been fighting about, but she was so angry it took everything she could to not grab Emily by the shoulders, injured or not, and shake her. “Eventually you’ll get that through your thick head.”
Emily stepped back, stunned. “God, you’re possessive, Emma.” She blinked furiously, wishing that Emma hadn’t said that, hadn’t discovered the same thing that she had when their fingers laced together on the edge of a sterile hospital bed.
Emma grit her teeth.
“Of course.” Emma crossed her arms, and stood stiffly self-possessed.
Emily rubbed her forehead. “Just like that? I belong to you?”
“Nothing new. You always have.”
Emily cradled her sling to her chest and sank down into the couch. “I don’t understand you.”
Emma watched her ginger movement and felt like a heavy weight was crushing her. She hated seeing her hurt. She hated always having to see her hurt. But she couldn’t do this again, not finding out until it was too late for her to do anything. She closed her eyes.
“I… I am a possessive person.”
Emily snorted, but didn’t swear at her for the understatement.
“I don’t like losing. And I don’t like losing things… people. I don’t like losing people.”
Emily’s eyes changed, becoming deep and haunted. She knew how little Emma liked losing people. Emma lowered herself to sit on the sofa and looked up at Emily, shields and angry defenses beaten down.
“So just… just understand what I mean when I say that you’re mine. You’re someone I would not like to lose, and I wish you would be more careful.” She shook her head. Perhaps trying to clear away the disgusting leak of honesty. “And I won’t even respond to your previous inquisition. I never touched the ugly cheating asshole, and whatever may be going on in his head, is his business alone.”
Emily sighed, knowing better than to believe her entirely blameless. But she knew she had lost the battle and it was time to lower her drawbridge and submit. She glanced at the open bottle of wine.
“Do you want a glass?”
“It would do wonders for my headache.” Emma stood. “But I will fetch it. Would you like one too, or are you planning to continue your wino impression.”
“Well, if you happen to spot a brown paper bag…”
Emma laughed. “For that, you’re getting juice.” She went to the kitchen, easily snagging two wine glasses and juice. She knew this kitchen better than her own. It made her shake her head in amusement.
“Have you been making a habit of combining alcohol and painkillers?” she remarked as she came back in.
Emily rolled her eyes. “I’m sorry that you drive me to drink.”
Emma re-corked the wine bottle and put it on the floor by her end of the couch. She passed Emily her juice with a challenging look. Emily just shook her head, but took it.
They sat, drinking juice and insulting bad television late into the night, as if they were friends.
* * *
After a few days Emma had to leave to start the fall semester. As it was, Emily had her psych evaluation the day after. Emma stood at the door, sunglasses in her hand and glanced back at Emily, still in her sling, watching her. She frowned, not certain what to say.
“Don’t do anything idiotic, alright?”
Emily grinned. She reached out and snagged Emma’s phone from her pocket. “I am giving you my number. I don’t care if you want it or not.”
Emma rolled her eyes. “Give it back.”
Emily finished typing it in and handed it over. “Call me. I don’t care how long it takes you, or when you do it, just give it a shot. Once.”
Emma looked at the corrupted instrument and put it in her bag. “Don’t hold your breath.”
Emily smiled. She stepped in and gave her an awkward one-armed hug. After a shocked moment, Emma’s arms tightened around her. She bent her head, burying her face in Emily’s hair and breathed in.
Brushing her lips lightly across her cheek, Emma turned and left, jamming her Ray-Bans on over her nose before anyone could see her eyes.
* * *
The young federal psychiatrist had leaned in eagerly when Emily mentioned her near-death experience and how she had felt like she was living in limbo, only half alive, ever since. She suppressed her smile, she had him, and she was cleared for desk duty. Returning to the field would have to wait until she had ten counseling session and a positive report, but as she wasn’t going to have full range of motion in her shoulder for another two months, the psych issues wouldn’t delay her further.
JJ dropped a folder when she saw her back. She gave her a hesitant embarrassed smile.
“Hey… I’ve been meaning to come see you.”
Emily nodded, willing to take that at face value, although she was pretty certain the reason JJ hadn’t been by once she was out of the hospital had a lot to do with an awkward conversation that she would rather not repeat when Emily was sober.
“That’s alright. Emma came by and stayed for a few days.”
The confusion hit first, then incredulity, shock, and finally irritation. Frankly, JJ looked a little pissed off. “Emma?”
“You… really don’t like her, do you?”
“I don’t.” JJ was stiff and her voice blunt. “I don’t like how she screws you around. And she uses her mutant powers in a way that scares the bejeezus out of me. And I don’t like it how she doesn’t care if she hurts you while you’re having sex.” JJ froze. “She didn’t open up your wound, did she? I’ll kill her!” JJ reached for her holster. “I don’t care if she’s a mutant. I’ll kill her.”
Emily’s jaw dropped, and then she covered her mouth, trying not to laugh. “Cool down! We didn’t have sex.”
“You… didn’t?” JJ looked bewildered. “Why did she come?”
“If that’s why you think most people visit the sick, I think I’m glad you didn’t show up.”
Garcia greeted her with a shriek and a hug. Morgan pounded her on the back, trying to cover up the relief and guilt with enthusiasm.
The rest of the team seemed relieved to have her back, but something else had changed too. The atmosphere in the briefing room seemed lighter. More of the team met her eyes, and she looked back. It had been so long, she had forgotten how it felt to be with her family of colleagues, to not be shutting them out.
She probably wouldn’t mention to her therapist that she hadn’t felt as good as she did after she got shot for a very long time.
* * *
It was 3:15 am and the phone rang. Emily groped around on the side table until the hopping buzz indicated she had found her cell. She answered it.
“Hi.” Emma’s voice was soft, almost a whisper, but immediately recognizable.
“Emma?” Emily sat up a little more. “Is something-“
“No. No emergency. Not that I would call you if there were one.”
“That’s good to know.” Emily sank back into her pillow and smiled absently. “To what do I owe the honor then?”
“Just checking that you haven’t managed to get yourself shot again.”
“Not since last time. And you? All whole?”
“As whole as may be expected.” Emma’s dry tone didn’t cover up the misdirection in her words. It was almost a confession, as if the fact that she had called at all wasn’t.
Emily couldn’t suppress the laugh in her voice. “I am unaccountably relieved.”
“Tell me something.”
“I don’t care. Anything.”
Emily smiled. “Well…” She considered. “It turns out that Garcia has been taking surveillance shots of our locker room and posting them on the Internet.”
Emma laughed. “I may have to request the URL.”
“Was that a yes, indeed? That’s what I heard.”
Emily shook her head and responded. The lonely night receded into warmth, and for a while, nightmares were banished into forgetfulness.
* * *