Fandom: X-Men/Criminal Minds
Pairing: Emma Frost/Emily Prentiss, other Emma Frost/Emily Prentiss
Disclaimer: I do not own X-Men or Criminal Minds. I owe wizened_cynic for the concept of quantum babies. She does it much better than me. Title stolen from the song by The National.
Apologies: I'm still waiting in the faint hope that I'll get some of the stuff back from my computer, so I'm putting off the next chapter of Emily's Notebooks until it becomes apparent that i really have to write it all over again, so you get this instead! I don't think I really have the voice in this section (most of it was written ages ago, which is why it was backed up) but I'll try to find it again.
Fake Empire 1 (Queen Emma)
Fake Empire 2 (JJ's Part)
Fake Empire 3 (Emily's Part)
Fake Empire 4 (The Mansion)
Fake Empire 5 (Kyougen)
Emily's Notebooks I: The Christmas Revolution
Whore,Pain, Fear, Death
Emily's Notebooks II: Nights Spent Listening to Noises
Want, Jealousy, Loyalty, Torture
“Why do you still blush every time we wake up together naked? It’s not like it’s new, darling.”
Emily didn’t mention that it was usually because they always seemed to awaken such after, say, promising the night before that this thing between them was over, or that she wouldn’t take advantage of her not-exactly-girlfriend while she was in a feral state, or after having sex in the bathroom at work because she could never quite remember the word ‘no’ while Emma was kissing her. But this time there was clearly a valid reason. “There is a small child behind me.”
Emma blinked and then looked over her shoulder at the girl curled up on top of the covers. “Oh,” she said blandly. “I forgot about her.”
Emily was certain that steam was coming out of her ears. “What!”
“Relax, darling.” Emma managed to extricate herself and climb out of bed. Emily pulled up the sheet to her chest, glaring quite pointedly at Emma’s lack of attire. Emma smirked. “She’s going to have to get used to it sooner or later, unless you’re planning on installing locks.”
“I’m thinking later will be less traumatizing than sooner.”
Emma tossed a balled-up t-shirt to Emily. “I doubt it’s a surprise, not if she’s really ours.” She pulled on one of her less-than-modest silky robes, not tightly enough for Emily’s approval.
Emily rolled her eyes and climbed out of bed, the shirt providing some semblance of modesty. “You’re saying that in whatever world, you couldn’t keep your hands off me?” She re-tied Emma’s robe so it wasn’t about to fall open accidentally.
Emma raised an eyebrow and glanced pointedly at the small child as she slid her hands under the hem of Emily’s hip-length t-shirt. “I think there is some evidence towards that, yes.”
Emily turned in her arms and looked back towards the thankfully still-sleeping girl. She snorted. “That took forethought and planning. It wasn’t just…” She looked back and made a face. “You know.”
Emma grinned enigmatically. “I don’t know. If it happened like I think it did…”
Emma just grinned again.
* * *
JJ slunk into Hotch’s office and found a seat. She looked up and gave a hesitant smile. Hotch sighed.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“It wasn’t the easiest thing to get words around.”
Hotch sighed and looked down at his desk. For the first time she noticed that he had a picture of Didi on top of his calendar. JJ smiled to herself. Pics of Henry had done the rounds just as fast. “I suppose not. It must be difficult, to be faced with something you never thought you’d have to see again.”
JJ blinked. “What?”
“It’s all right. Garcia told me.”
“Told you what?”
“That the girl’s foster parents died suddenly in a car accident, and they offered her back to Emily.”
JJ shook her head, trying to clear out the confusion. Apparently Garcia had come up with a cover story and tried it out for size on Hotch. “Oh, that.”
“I wish she had been able to confide in me. Did you know anything about it?”
“No,” JJ said shortly. “Nothing.”
“Do you think she’s keeping her?” Hotch looked serious and grim, but there was enough worry in his expression that suggested, to his credit, that he was more concerned about Emily than about the effect this would have on his team. (JJ was the one who was worried about that. Four-year-olds did not appreciate absentee parents).
“That’s what it looks like. For the duration.”
Hotch shook his head. “That little girl needs a father.”
JJ couldn’t keep herself from grinning, but she did her best to pass it off as mildly uncomfortable. “She’s gone to see Emma.”
Hotch cringed. Then for a moment he looked hopeful. “How do you think she’ll take it?”
JJ bit her lip. She had managed to get over the hope that rose up every time they had a fight, that maybe this time they’d break up permanently. But Hotch had only really figured out what he thought of Emma comparatively recently. She understood why he had hope, but he didn’t know that Deirdre was Emma’s kid (really obviously Emma’s kid). “I think… I think she’ll be fine with it, eventually.”
* * *
Emily’s phone rang and she twisted out of Emma’s arms, snagged it, and disappeared into the other room. Emma looked down at the small child curled up on her bed. She lay down beside her, using the tip of one finger to push her dark silky hair back from her face.
It was hard to believe that what Hank said was true. This child was far too pretty to be hers. Emily’s, of course: her smile and her pout were both instantly recognizable. But children were putty, taut sandpaper skin over springy flesh.
Emma ran the pads of her fingers gently over soft skin, careful not to scrape with the edge of a nail, tracing the shape of her cheekbones that already suggested a proud arch, the tiny child’s nose, which would only show its true shape after being given a chance to grow.
Emma had never wanted children. She knew too well how people never escaped their parents’ taint. No one had to tell her for her to know that she was like her father: cold, selfish, and practical. If her father had any emotions, he kept them locked inside. Only his anger had never had any trouble coming out. She had learnt to be the same. But with a childhood like hers, who could expect anything different?
The only thing she wanted was to never pass on her own faults and psychoses to a child. No one deserved to suffer like that.
Didi blinked twice and opened her wide blue eyes, too large for her face. Emma knew those eyes, knew the line of her brows. She had stared at them in the mirror her entire life. She swallowed hard and tried not to show the twist she felt inside her chest, half in sorrow, half in horror. This child did not deserve the curse of her parentage.
“M’ma, you look sad.” Didi scooted closer to her and curled up against her, kissing her face.
Emma stiffened and pulled away from her. “Don’t-“
Didi blinked and tilted her head, giving her an intent penetrating stare that was both too familiar and completely alien. “M’ma?”
How could she ask this of her? Emma didn’t give her vulnerabilities to anyone, certainly not to children. She asked comfort from no one, and never by means of platonic physical affection. “I’m not sad.”
Emma wasn’t certain if the expression of blatant disbelief on Deirdre’s face was more hers or Emily’s.
“Do you have to send me away again?” Didi asked quietly. “I don’t care that things are different here. I just want to stay with you and mommy.”
Emma froze. A heavy squirming weight settled in her stomach. She had forgotten that they were all this child had left, even if they were only poor substitutes. “We’re going to look after you,” she said, not sure how to touch her, not sure if she had the power to make it okay.
Didi looked down. “Do you not want me anymore?”
Emma couldn’t say she empathized with her unknown double, she couldn’t even say she trusted her, or respected her for the decisions she had made, but this child was blameless. She reached out, threading her fingers through her hair. “We’re not sending you away. I don’t know… how we could have ever sent you away.”
Deirdre made a hesitant move towards her again, and Emma gathered her into her lap. Wrapping her arms around the flimsy little body, she wondered how it was possible that holding a child could make her feel nervous and insecure in a way she hadn’t felt for years, not at least since she had gained control over her powers and left her misery of a home behind.
But Didi wouldn’t let her close off and fake it. She needed more than that and could pick out a lie at fifty yards. Her little fingers clung to the soft cloth as she tried to burrow into her. Emma’s grip tightened around her.
Curse or not, at least for now, this child was hers. And she would do whatever necessary to save her from the mistakes and disasters she had made of her life.
* * *
“How’s my favorite new mommy?” Garcia’s cheerful voice cut from the phone right into Emily’s gut.
“Oh god! Don’t call me that!” Didi calling her mommy was one thing. It was like… witness protection, or something. She just had to try to not blow her cover and utterly traumatize the girl, and eventually it would be over. She could lie and cheat and make deals with costumed vigilantes for that goal. But in Garcia’s mouth the word meant something else entirely, and the weight of everything she would have to do fell on her like fifty-ton anvil.
She really wasn’t cut out for this. Just thinking of her double, who was clearly a good mom who loved her kid, made her cringe, half with guilt and half with discomfort. She couldn’t imagine herself that way, not someone who could think that this was easy. She couldn’t imagine circumstances where having a child could ever be easy for her, not if she and her double shared any similar experiences.
“Are we having parental jitters?”
Emily scowled. “You do know it’s six in the morning. Why are you calling?”
“I thought I’d make sure your new bundle of joy didn’t interrupt any parental bonding time, particularly naked parental bonding time.”
“Yeah, you’re a little late.”
Garcia guffawed. “Weren’t you guys broken up, like, as of last night?” Emily groaned. “I know, I know, not really relevant for you. Teh sex, it happens.”
“I kind of have bigger things to worry about than whether or not we’re technically together or not.”
“One of which is about two foot five?”
Emily sank onto the tangled sheets of the abandoned couch bed. “Yes, that one.”
“JJ may have mentioned that you may need to finish childproofing your place.”
“Yeah.” It was too early in the morning to have to think about this.
“What’s your social-security number?”
“… What?” That was out of the blue. “Don’t you… know it?” Emily was pretty certain Garcia had access to far more personal information than that.
“Well, yeah. Of course I do. But I figured if I asked you, and you told me, it would be like tacit permission for what I’m going to do.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Just… necessary things.”
Emily lay down on the couch and looked through the open door to where Emma was picking Didi up off the bed and instructing her about something that Emily couldn’t quite hear. Didi was laughing and squirming in her grip, but Emma wasn’t about to let her escape until she had finished her lecture.
“Well, if they’re necessary…”
“Phew, I’m glad you said yes, ‘cause I’m almost done.”
“Wait! Garcia! What did you do?”
“Don’t worry, I didn’t give you any embarrassing chronic diseases.”
The line went dead. “Hey! Garcia…” Emily groaned and snapped the phone shut. She’d find out when she got back to work, she supposed.
* * *
Emily leaned against the doorframe as Emma set Deidre on her feet. She ran past Emily giving her leg half a hug.
Was this what it was supposed to feel like to have a family? Emily wondered. Panic shot suddenly down her spine, her stomach turning.
Family had never been a simple word. To her mother it had been a political ideal: family honor, family values. To her father it had been pride and promises, and finally loss. But to Emily it had been nothing but a wound. What family dinner would turn into a political game? What family outing into a fake display of conviviality? What family conversation into a fight? To Emily, family meant dread and disappointment.
Emma leaned into the wall near her, mussed and playful. The smile that was spread across her face made Emily ache to kiss her.
“Look, I only have two and a half months left in this semester. Then it’s summer. You’ll need a break. I can take her.”
The words were like a blow to the gut. This is what family was: separation and loneliness. They could never be what she wanted, because she could only fall in love with women who were like her mother. They love you well enough while you’re there, but don’t be fooled that they would sacrifice anything important for you. They’d give their lives for the world, of course, but never for you.
But really, why should she complain about it, when she was exactly the same?
Didi popped back in, half-arrayed in overalls and with her head stuck in the arm of a striped rugby shirt, and Emma, almost automatically, bent to pull the shirt over her head, fasten her straps properly and straighten her collar.
Emily didn’t even know how to bend like that, completely unconscious of the endless questions that brought her to the edge of panic. Should she interfere? Would it be accepted? Did she even know how to fasten overalls properly? Emma glanced up and saw her expression.
“I had a younger sister,” she said. Her eyes slid away, and Emily wondered what new horror lay behind them.
“Is she alive?”
“As far as I know.” Emma brusquely turned to find clothing for herself. She glanced once back at Didi, who had found a crystal bowl full of glass pellets meant to hold flowers, poured them out on the rug, and was proceeding to arrange them in careful rows. “Who on earth picked that clothing out?”
Emily scratched the back of her head. “JJ had some that Henry had grown out of.”
Emma sighed. “If you don’t even make the effort, I may have to do something about you.”
“What?” Emily wasn’t entirely prepared for death threats this early in the morning.
“Shopping, darling.” Emma pulled a cleavagey white collared shirt from the closet and tossed it on the bed. “I meant shopping.”
* * *