Fandom: X-Men/Criminal Minds
Pairing: Emma Frost/Emily Prentiss
Disclaimer: I do not own X-Men, Criminal Minds, or the Baby-Sitters' Club. I owe Argentine for the third influence with Jubilee and Fifty-Foot Janine.
Apologies: I really shouldn't post this stuff until i have a better idea what the plot is, because this one is a real clunker. I'm sorry. Both the plot and the character development suffered in this installment, but it is almost over, thank god.
Summary: Emily's mother is dead, but her memory lives on, as does her desire to manipulate Emily's life away from serial killers and towards politics. But sometimes, serial killers and politicians are not that far removed.
Suddenly the focus was on her again and she flinched. Being here was like nothing so much as being undercover at Liberty Ranch. And this was the moment that told them whether you were trustworthy or needed to be removed.
Emily smiled awkwardly. “I’m just a civil servant. I don’t know what help I could be to you.”
“I’m certain that you could offer great assistance. Your mother worked mainly to extend our network, brought us friends and allies. We could certainly use allies within law enforcement.”
“Why? Are you serial killers?” Crooke flinched barely perceptibly, but Emily was watching him and caught the tell. Kimble laughed.
“I’m afraid your department is one of the least interesting to us. Except that recently, there has been talk of splitting your group into two, one primarily focused on mutant serial crime.”
Emily felt cold. She had heard nothing about this, and she couldn’t tell if it was a lie.
“We don’t want that to happen. Having a federal unit of Mutant Hunters is extremely bad press. I’m certain you have friends who could make sure this isn’t happening.”
“I… I don’t have many friends in the upper bureaucracy.”
“Yes,” Kimble sneered. “We heard about your debacle with Strauss. But she is barely a functionary. I’m sure you remember how to make friends. Your mother must have taught you that.”
She had. Emily still remembered the cold instructions: find out something they don’t want you to know, offer them something with no strings attached, ask for something in return. If they acquiesce too easily, they aren’t worth very much. If they don’t, play your reserve. Then offer another favor. The sweet overcomes the bitter.
Emily didn’t do favors. She did her job. But if she made them threaten her, all she did was prove that she had power to use. She smiled again, her hesitancy her inefficacy showing in her expression.
“I really do agree that it would be terrible to have a separate unit that targets mutants. I will definitely suggest to my supervisor that I think it is ill-advised.” Even if the Public Corruption units clearly needed a better approach to dealing with mutant issues.
Shaw sneered. “I’m certain you can do better than that.”
Kimble shushed him and smiled. “If you need an incentive, I’ve heard that your current supervisor is having some troubles with his hearing. He should probably be removed from the field for everyone’s safety. I’m sure that you would do an admirable job in his place.”
“I don’t have seniority,” said Emily flatly. When would they stop trying to tempt her with words that did nothing but disgust her?
“I’m sure that is only a formality.”
“I don't want it.”
Kimble blinked in surprise.
Emily snorted. “At least Strauss tempted me with something I actually wanted. Did you even speak to my mother about me once before you thought I might make a good replacement for her? She could have told you, I’m a thief-taker. I don’t want your fame and power. I want to do my job.”
Kimble crossed his arms. “Then what do you want? What can we do that will help you do your job?”
“You can leave me alone. My job has nothing to do with you. I deal with the evil, the violent and the insane, and unless those are the people you want to protect, I can give you nothing.”
“And if we did?”
“I would give you nothing.”
<< You’re an idiot. >>
Emily shot Emma a sharp glance. << Why? Because I’m bargaining from my weakness? >>
<< You think they’ll let you go. They’ve shown you their sins and you’ve proven your loyalty to the system. >>
<< I’m worthless to them. >>
<< Exactly. You have no value; you are merely a threat. If you wanted evil, violent and insane, you couldn’t come to a better place. >>
“I would give you nothing,” Emily repeated faintly, hating herself for playing the game, hating herself for trusting Emma. “My profession is worth more than that.”
Crooke smiled harshly. “But surely some thieves are worth more than others.”
Emily locked eyes with him. “Some are worse than others.”
Her uncle Edward gave a forced laugh. “Well, that’s obvious enough. I told them they wouldn’t be able to convince you now. Still feeling your oats, wanting the thrill of the chase, not the dull bargaining of the boardroom. But not forever, I would assume. Some day you might need some help. Just remember that we’re on your side, and you can come to us.”
“We hope,” said Kimble, “that if you are ever in a position to help us, you will not think on us too cruelly. Of course, if you were willing to help us now, we could easily have you as Director of Violent Crime within five years. Your progress will be slower if you wait.”
“I’m not ready for that sort of responsibility.”
* * *
Emma offered Emily her arm as they walked out. Everyone watched knowingly. Tony grinned.
<< You shouldn’t have done that. >>
<< I’m not getting locked into their game. >>
<< They’re paltry vote grubbers. They want your influence, not your soul. >>
<< I don’t have any influence to give them. They’re the idiots for not figuring that our on their own. I thought you were going to let that go and worry about the fact that Roger Crooke is obviously the one in charge of Janine’s harassment. >>
<< Or at least the instigator and the planner. >>
Emily frowned and glanced at her. << Why does that not mean in charge? >>
<< He’s human. >>
<< And that means what, exactly? You think the lackey he’s using is controlling him somehow? >>
<< I can’t get into his head. It’s being blocked. Which means there’s either someone more powerful helping him, or he’s using a piece of technology that someone more powerful gave him. >>
<< Why are you suddenly so willing to help me on this? >>
<< Well, it’s obvious that there’s nothing I can do that will stop you from pursuing this. But you’re not equipped to deal with this. Not if there are two mutants involved. >> Emma ran her fingers over the strap of her shoulder holster. << Even with this. >>
<< It’s not like I want to do this alone. I know it’s stupid. But I need to be able to trust that you will do this my way. I can’t let you just take him out… like your sister. >>
Ice was the only response. Then… << Jubilee told you. >>
<< It is none of my business. I know why you did it. I know that you thought it was the right thing to do, and that you had no allies once your own sister turned on you. But you cannot do that here. You don’t need to. >>
<< I know. >> The response was short and crisp and felt like a lie. << I’ll help you. Bring him to justice, or whatever. You’re completely competent. >> That felt like a sneer. << You just need someone to watch your back. >> And that was an insult.
They reached her door. Emma leaned against the wall beside it.
“You shouldn’t have rejected their offer.”
Emily didn’t play politics for this very reason. She didn’t like to be lied to, manipulated, and used. Emma was just like her mother. And Emily didn’t have the strength to deal with that. She needed to be able to trust the people around her.
“Not this again! You know how I feel about politics.”
“You could have been director. You could easily have played your influence into the top position. You could fix their idiotic mutant policies, helped your friends.” Emily blinked, stunned. There was no way Emma should know about Garcia. “It’s your team’s indifference to influence that keeps them weak. You complain about too much work, too few resources, but you won’t try to change it.”
“Since when does playing those games change things for the better? All these people are doing is selfishly abusing the system. They get their vengeance and their perks and that’s all they care about. They can’t care about anything real.”
“Oh, get over your idiotic childhood traumas and oedipal issues about becoming your mother! Politics is pragmatics, not whatever nefarious evil you think it is.”
“You want me to do it? Just give up everything I’ve worked so hard to get? I finally got what I wanted, I am doing what’s important to me, and I won’t give it up for you or anyone.”
“I didn’t know you were such an egotist.” Emma shook her head. “Giving up this chance to make a real difference.”
Emily gaped. “An egotist! I work to help other people. I risk my life-“
Emma snarled. “For how many? A handful a year? Be honest. You’re helping yourself. Assuaging your guilt for being born wealthy by suffering other people’s pain. Covering up your own victimhood with reckless machismo.”
“How many? I shouldn’t be surprised that you don’t understand. You wouldn’t ever think saving just one person could be worth ‘changing the world for the better.’ You’re so selfless you let your students die.”
And she had gone too far, she knew it by the way Emma’s face went white, her shoulders stiffened, and whatever fire there had been in her eyes went blank and cold like diamond. But she didn’t care. She was seething, burning up with fury and frustration at how Emma willfully wouldn’t understand.
Emma walked away.
Emily leaned against the door to her hotel room, then slid down it to sit on the floor outside, and tried to calm her rough breathing. She pressed her palms to her face and just tried not to lose control.
Why was she even here? This wasn’t about honoring her mother; it was about replacing her. She knew she shouldn’t have come. She had been betrayed by her body, betrayed by wanting something that didn’t even exist. If knowing how to hurt someone was intimacy, then she had it, but she had nothing else.
No one was on her side here. She had never felt so utterly alone.
* * *