Fandom: Criminal Minds/X-Men
Pairing: Emily Prentiss... eventually Emma Frost
Summary: When one person travels into an alternate universe a thousand others are created. What if Didi showed up without a time slip on Emily's doorstep, in a world without mutants? What would a twenty-five year old Emily do?
Apologies: So, this one's going nowhere fast, but at least it's going, ne?
“You’re not packing anything else?” Most of it looked like it needed to be thrown out anyway.
“I don’t need them to know I’m skipping out on my lease.”
Emily grimaced. “How much is the lease?”
Emily’s jaw dropped. “Seriously?” For this shithole?
There weren’t any flights that night. Emily had booked a hotel room, just in case. One room, two beds. Emily didn’t like the odd look on Emma’s face when she gave the manager her credit card. Dinner was cartons of Indian food picked up from the dosa bar on the corner eaten over napkins. Emma picked tensely at first, but ate.
It was late and Didi eventually collapsed in the absolute center of one of the beds.
“You have pajamas for her?” Emma asked.
Emily shook her head.
Emma frowned. “I don’t get this. You can’t be this bad at taking care of her.”
“I washed her clothes yesterday. They’re clean.” Emily looked away. “I keep on hoping that I’ll turn around and she’ll disappear, just like she came.”
“I don’t believe you.”
Emily stared at her. She didn’t understand at first. Could this woman not believe she was that terrible a parent? But no… Her expression was hard and distrustful.
“Your story is bullshit.”
Emily reached into her pocket and pulled out a soft folded paper. She gave it to Emma.
The tone was harsh and arrogant, the words complex and overbearing. “The honor to care for her.”
“It’s not me.”
“It’s not me either. I don’t… I can’t even begin to understand her.”
Emma thrust the paper back at her and flopped back onto the bed. Emily looked at her for a long moment.
“Do you have a drug habit?”
Emma propped herself up on one elbow and stared. “What?”
“It’s… I need to know. I can’t-“
“I don’t,” Emma snapped at her. “My brother died from a fucking overdose. I don’t go there. I’ve snorted coke twice when I felt like shit and needed to dance. That’s all.”
Emily looked away.
“Do I pass your fucking charity guidelines?”
“This isn’t charity.”
“Then what the fuck is it?”
“I need help.” Emily looked at Didi’s sleeping form and then away, rubbing her fist over her eyes. “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“She’s a person. She needs everything you need. She needs clothes and food and something to do all day. How hard is that?”
Emily couldn’t stop staring at the faded blue sweatshirt. She knew that she didn’t always remember to feed herself, and too often when she was hungry there was nothing there. She wasn’t an adult. She didn’t have that kind of organization. She could barely take care of herself, how did they expect her to take care of someone else?
Emma followed her eyes and looked at her own shirt, then sort of deflated. “Fuck it,” she muttered. “At least they’re clean.”
She crawled under the covers next to Didi and pretended to be asleep.
Emily lay in the other bed alone, staring up at the ceiling, and wondering why jeans, which were so comfortable to wear, were so uncomfortable to sleep in.
* * *
It felt weirdly like she was getting the silent treatment on the way to the airport the next day. Emma was focusing her attention on Deirdre, making sure she was entertained and had everything she needed, including assistance in the bathroom, which Emily kept on forgetting was required. It allowed her to deal with the tickets and check in unencumbered, but it made her feel unnecessary.
Then Emma came up to her and gave her a hard bland look. “She wants something to drink.”
Emily wasn’t certain what she was supposed to do about that for a moment, and then she figured it out. She found her wallet and gave her a twenty. Emma looked at it with something akin to discomfort in her face.
“Uh, get whatever you want.”
“Do you want change?”
Why did this question seem so important? She opened her mouth and saw Emma’s fingers tense slightly around the note. “N-no. Of course not.”
Emma gave her another impenetrable look before walking off, catching Didi’s hand as she passed her and tugging her along.
Emily sat hunched in a seat, wishing she had remembered to bring something to read, and waited for the flight to be called.
A few minutes later a bottle of water and a trashy magazine were dropped into her lap. She glanced behind her to where Emma was trying to get Didi to take off the strip of plastic around the cap on her milk and throw it away.
“Thanks,” she said.
Emma flashed her a wry half smile, and Emily leaned back in her chair, paging through the article on Mike Tyson’s cannibalistic tendencies distractedly, and wishing she knew why it felt like she had just made it over a really important hurdle.
* * *
Minneapolis real estate wasn’t bad, and when she moved there, Emily had bought a two story Victorian near the university for under two hundred thousand. Leading the odd troupe up from the bus stop, she looked at it again, like she hadn’t since she had bought it. It had become two stairs and a door to her, no different from her New York apartment, which had been twenty-nine stairs and a door.
It wasn’t bad though, brown shingles with green trim that was only slightly peeling, a full front porch, a tree in the front yard. Her mother called it a summer house, but it had been nice to not live in an apartment or a brownstone where you shared your walls with your neighbors.
She had enjoyed it for the first month at least, until it had just become a refrigerator, a desk and a bed.
Didi was on Emma’s back, her fingers tangled in her hair, and Emma was looking up at it. Emily wished she knew what she was thinking. She hopped up on the porch and unlocked the door and wished she had cleaned up.
Didi whined to get down and Emma dropped her in the middle of the living room where she went back to building structures out of Emily’s cassettes. Emma looked around.
Emily’s mother had offered to hire a decorator for her, but she had begged off saying she didn’t have enough time. Still, on the few occasions Elizabeth had come to visit, her arrival often coincided with that of a large piece of furniture. Emily had bought the stereo system for herself, but the couch and rug were her mother’s choices. Elizabeth had been adamant about getting rid of Emily’s college futon chair, but Emily had just moved it upstairs into one of the extra bedrooms. Her mother had also provided a large set of cooking utensils, which had not, in fact, been unwrapped.
There were three bedrooms upstairs. Emily’s was the master bedroom, but aside from the bed pushed far away into one corner, it was mostly her office. Her desk had pride of place, and about six hundred books, half of them in a foreign language, were strewn about, some of them in her bed.
Her mother had bought the beds and when Emily complained that the larger one took up too much floor space (which she needed for her books), her mother had arched an eyebrow and remarked that “if that’s your way of suggesting that your darling mother take the queen, then thank you, honey.”
In actuality it was her complaining about how much money her mother was spending on her, and how she was blatantly trying to coerce her into becoming an adult when she was perfectly fine with her futon and take out menus. But there was something redeeming about expensive mattresses. And she let her mother go all out on the guest bedroom since she was likely to be the only one using it, at least until now.
The third bedroom, the smallest, was basically storage, the futon, boxes of junk from college and before, an embarrassing number of school uniforms and other retired outfits.
“So,” said Emma, leaning against the wall. “We’re cleaning all this out?”
And Emily’s worldview twisted around and locked into the correct place. This was going to be Deirdre’s room, and that didn’t mean making her sleep on the futon. She stared at the space, mentally erasing the boxes and other pieces of junk, letting the bare hardwood floor see the light again, and cringed. “We’re going to have to do a lot of shopping, aren’t we?”
* * *
Emily made a list: ‘pajamas, kids’ bed, clothes.’ She looked over at Emma who was cringing at the contents of her refrigerator and already setting aside the take out cartons with visible mold growing in them. ‘Clothes for Emma,’ she added. She considered, biting on her pen, ‘bedding, sheets, extra queen sheets, shoes?’ Didi came into the kitchen and pulled on Emma’s leg.
“I want juice, M’ma.”
‘Groceries,’ Emily added to the list.
Emma leaned over her shoulder and took the pen out of her hand. ‘toothbrush, baby shampoo,’ she added.
“You need to tell me what you need too,” said Emily when Emma put the pen back in her fingers.
Emma glanced over her shoulder. “Baking soda,” she said. “Your fridge is disgusting.”
Emily started a separate grocery list.
* * *
That afternoon, after Didi woke up from her nap, they went down to the Nicollet Mall. Emma was very obviously reticent about setting foot into Macy’s, so they went to Target. (Emily’s mother had given her very firm instructions about never setting foot in Target, but it was a Minneapolis institution, and everyone in town went to Target.) It was also clear that Emma had never been inside this kind of store before either. And although it was cheap enough for her to actually look, she was still not okay with having Emily buy her things. Finally Emily poked her in the shoulder and glared at her.
“Look, for every piece of clothing we get Didi, you get one too. I hate doing laundry. You need more clothes.”
Emma shrugged, not looking at her face. “I can do laundry.”
“And then I’ll have to put it away every three days because you need more to fill up the load. I need intervals. And that sweatshirt is beginning to smell.”
Emily wanted to tell her that the money didn’t matter, that her job paid over $90,000 a year, and she had a disgusting trust fund. But from what the hacker had said, Emma had grown up rich, and it might be even more of a blow to her pride to remind her of what it could have been like. She wished she knew what had happened that made her drop out of school, but it felt awkward to ask.