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: I'm pretty sure no one wanted angst in this one, but, thus is life. Rating up for neither sexy nor violent reasons.
Chapter 6: Emma's POV
The cold snap hit, and mittens, scarves, and coats were a necessity. Frost drew patterns on the windowpanes in the morning, and Emma scowled at the calendar.
“This is worse than Boston.”
Emily chuckled. “It hasn’t snowed yet, which is rare for November.”
“God, how did you convince me to come here?”
Emma was harshly sarcastic, but it was a joke, and it felt good that she could tease her like that. She had stopped watching her with that slightly sickened slightly apprehensive expression that suggested ‘I know where the knife is, but I really don’t think I’ll have enough time to react if you do turn on me.’ It was recognizable because it was the way Emily had always looked at airplanes.
Didi had a tendency to only eat half of what was given to her, but she would complain for hours if what she was given didn’t look right. A stack of less than 4 pancakes was not a real stack, and one sausage did not take up the right amount of space. She was already an aesthetician at four.
“You know, you eat a lot of carbohydrates,” said Emily, watching Didi down her pancakes jealously.
Didi gave her a look. “You eat more karbaidates.” She pushed the plate towards her. “I’z done.”
She abandoned her pancakes half eaten to pursue architectural genius with the Legos Benji had given her, and Emily leaned on the counter, suspiciously eyeing the syrup soaked mess.
Emma sauntered up and cut a bite out with Didi’s fork. She flew it towards Emily’s mouth. Emily pouted.
“I don’t need you feeding me too.”
“Yes you do,” replied Emma, targeting her mouth successfully and offloading the pancakes. “You’re as skinny as fuck.”
Mouth full, Emily could not retort.
* * *
Didi was coughing. Emily flustered about with various drugs. Emma snatched the cough syrup out of her hand.
“Don’t give her that! It’s like 40 proof.”
Emily groaned. “I need to take her to the doctor, don’t I? Do I have to find a pediatrician? What is the difference between a pediatrician and a regular doctor anyway?”
Then Emma coughed hard and leaned over the sink and spat. “Fuck.”
Emily blinked. “That was gross.”
Emily frowned. “I need to take you to the doctor too, don’t I?”
“You can’t,” Emma growled. “I’m uninsured. I haven’t been insured since I dropped out of college. And you can’t put me on because I’m not your fucking wife.”
Yeah, that bad of a mood meant she was really sick. “I’m going to take you to the doctor. I know someone who works at a walk-in clinic around here. I will pay.”
“I don’t want to.”
“You are sick! I don’t want you sick around my child!”
“God! You’re full of so much shit about not being able to act like a parent, when you’re fucking trying to parent me all the time!”
“I’m not going to watch you suffer just because you’re too proud to ask for help!”
“I’ve already taken enough charity from you!”
“I am a government employee! Antibiotics are like minimal public healthcare! If we lived three hundred miles north of here we wouldn’t even be having this conversation!”
Emma blinked at her. “So, basically you’re saying to think of your paycheck as government welfare?”
“Yes!” Emily frowned. “Is that what I said?”
“That doesn’t even make sense.”
Emily looked down. “Let me pay for this.” She touched Emma’s elbow and slid her hand down her arm. “I’ll make you cook or something to gouge you for it afterwards, but I can’t bully you if you’re feeling horrible.”
Emma glanced away. “If it’s not too much. You don’t need that much leverage.”
* * *
“$85?” Emma tried to turn around and leave but Emily caught her by her arms and pushed her back towards the desk.
Emma pouted as she filled out the paperwork. “You’re going to pay for my drugs too.”
She looked over at her, an unfamiliar sadness in her eyes. “I’ll pay you back.”
Emily shook her head. “You already have.”
Emma was called after not too long.
“Do you want me to come in with you?”
Emma shot her a ferocious glare. “How old do you think I am?”
“Fine,” Emily snapped back. “But if they want to give you a strep test or anything just do it, and stop whining!”
Emma scowled, and grabbed her wrist, pulling her up. “Fine. Just come in. You’re going to interrogate me about it on the way back anyway.”
It was mildly humiliating to sit on the chair in the corner as the cheerful Philippino doctor kept up a running monologue about various diseases and the meaning of certain symptoms as she felt up Emma’s face and glands and looked into her ears and throat. She also occasionally went off on tangents about other patients.
“He picked his pimple, you see, right here, on the corner of the eyebrow, and the tip of the nose. It is a triangle of infection, and his eyeball was bulging out-“
But Emma cut her off. “How much does it cost to get blood work done?”
The doctor flipped through the chart. “No insurance?”
Emma shook her head stiffly.
Emma’s eyes slid away. “For HIV, mainly.”
Emma shook her head again.
Emily couldn’t really focus on what happened after that. The doctor went out and there was a loud conversation in Tagalog, and she came back in with a pamphlet. “It’s very expensive, usually, but there’s free services at the teen clinic.”
Then there were prescriptions and exchanges of cash, and suddenly she was in the car again and completely unfit to drive.
Emma was holding the pamphlet in a tight fist.
“Are you going to do that?”
“No?” Emily felt furious and her face hot. “Then why did you even bother asking?”
“It’s none of your business!”
“It’s none of my business? You live in my house!”
“I don’t want to do it! I don’t want to know!” Emma screamed at her. Her eyes were full of tears but she hadn’t started crying yet. “And I don’t want to talk about this with you.”
“Then you shouldn’t have made me come in.”
Emma snorted. “Don’t tell me you wouldn’t have known anyway.”
“Tagalog is not one of the languages I speak!” It really wasn’t a phrase made for shouting, and Emily made a face.
There was an awkward pause. Finally, Emma laughed at her, and then, like it was a cork popping, started to cry.
“I’ll take you there now. Just… to get it over with.”
“No.” Emma snuffled, and then started to cough.
It just all made Emily feel horrible and sick inside. She leaned on the steering wheel weakly. “Please? I’ll leave you there if you want, and do the pharmacy, so you can decide.”
Emma was all curled up in her own arms but she held out the pamphlet, not looking over. When they stopped in the parking lot she didn’t move.
“I want you to stay,” she said, quietly. She looked bent and hollow. It was an awful thing to see. “I want you to be here when I get out.”
Emily just watched her and nodded slowly. “All right.”
Emily stayed in the waiting room, knees tucked up, resting her head between them. It was all too familiar. The scents of fear and desperation intermixed with disinfectant. Cheerful pamphlets sat untouched in their holders. In some ways it had been better to do this sort of thing where the doctors spoke a foreign tongue, where you knew that it was your fault and you were a sinner. Then at least you didn’t have to wonder what they really thought of you. You couldn’t hear them whispering in the hallways, the judgment in their eyes. At least if her doctor had decided to make a slight slip with the knife, it wasn’t because he thought you were a stupid whore. He just had decided to do god’s work and relieve you from your miserable little sinning life. It would have been a mercy.
It didn’t take too long after the paperwork. Emma came out, walking stiffly, one arm crossed over the nub of cotton taped to the inside of her elbow. She didn’t meet her eyes, but Emily had caught a quick worried scan of the room before she had been spotted and Emma had started for the exit.
Emma sat quietly in the passenger seat, leaning against the door and scratching absently at a crayon scrawl on the vinyl. Emily drove to the pharmacy on automatic.
“I wasn’t going to do it at all,” she said, out of nowhere. “It didn’t matter… before.”
“It’s different now?”
Emma gave her a slight eye roll; it wasn’t as harsh as usual. Emily saw her knuckles whiten where she held the handle on the door, her thumb pressing against the trace of wax. “Are you going to throw me out?”
“But you’re not going to get near me.”
Emily glanced back at the road. “Ask me that when you’re not coughing up phlegm.”
It was a little bit of a lie. She knew better than anyone that it was hard to control your reaction around things that frightened you. But she also knew the way someone could look when all they wanted was for you to hold on to them and keep them from slipping away, goddamn what the nurses thought about it.
“I mean, I’m not going to… suck your chopsticks or…” Emily cringed when she realized what she had said. “Not that I would ever do that. Because that is disgusting.”
Emma laughed weakly, and then turned away, looking out the window.
They got home and Emily relieved Benji of babysitting duty. Deirdre was asleep, and she ignored him as he complained vociferously about the impossibility of maintaining a six foot interval between yourself and someone who required assistance to wash her hands. He went home to bathe in hand sanitizer. Emma disappeared into her room, and Emily lay down on the couch, pulling the blanket over her, and tried to pretend that she was someone else who had never felt this awful or been this afraid.
* * *