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: This was going to be a totally feel-good chapter, after the angst and misery of the last two bits, but I couldn't do it. I'm sorry. It should be about as appropriately mercurial as the rest of it.
Chapter 6: Emma's POV
Emma could see Emily padding her way back and forth through the hallway, hopping to not leave her bare feet on the cold wood for too long, and poking through the linen cupboards. Emma groaned and propped herself up on her elbow.
“What are you doing up? It’s 2 am.”
Emily paused in the doorway and pouted at her. “It's one thirty and I’m freezing and I can’t find my electric blanket.”
“Oh, Didi has it.” Emma had the grace to look chagrined, but she stopped before she actually appeared sorry. “Wimp.”
Emily shuffled pathetically, wrapping her arms around herself. “I would be being a bad parent again if I begrudged her it.”
Emma snickered. “Probably.”
“I can’t sleep if I’m cold!” Emily whined, hopping up and down, shivering.
Emma rolled her eyes. “Come here.” She lifted the covers. “No groping. I mean it. Verbal appreciation does not extend to touching.”
Emily hesitated. It was easy to see what she wanted on her face. Her feet stilled on the floor and her eyes lowered guiltily. Emma wondered if she had finally admitted to herself what she wanted.
She climbed in, her freezing toes listing towards Emma’s warmth and tracing icy lines down them.
“Hey! Don’t put your feet on me!”
“But they’re so cold!”
Emma shoved her away, but she fought back, and with and unexpected crook of the leg, Emily was on top of her and pinning her down. Then, vindictively, she pressed her feet against Emma’s leg.
Emma gasped at the shock of it. Emily was too close, and her chilly fingers pressed into her arms. And she was staring at her, eyes wide like she had never seen her before. Her lids drooped slightly, and she tilted her head, and it was so horribly obvious that she was going to try to kiss her.
“Do you remember when we went shopping?”
Emily froze, caught in the act and tried to think. “Um…”
“The first time?” Emma prompted. She wasn’t going to jerk away. She wasn’t going to be afraid. She didn’t even want to reject her, but she would not be controlled like this, not again.
Emily dropped on her side, letting Emma go. It was clear she had remembered what she needed to. They hadn’t trusted each other then. Emma had reacted with disgust to being touched by her. It wasn’t like that anymore. It might be a mistake, but Emma couldn’t keep it up. She didn’t want to push her away. Emily couldn’t be faking that hurt expression, not with the way she looked like she deserved to be punished whenever Emma slighted her.
But this time she looked like she had been punched in the stomach. Emma closed her eyes and let her fingers curl around her wrist. She felt Emily stiffen and then relax. She moved, Emma felt the mattress shift under them, and then Emma felt a quick light kiss against her cheek. She couldn’t help the quick breath that she pulled in.
“Thank you,” Emily whispered.
“Yeah,” Emma grumbled, turning on her side, but not moving away. “I owe you.”
“No you don’t.”
Emily had left icy footprints on her legs, the bitch. But she was breathing evenly now, and exuding heat. Emma curled into her, enjoying the warmth. She twisted her fingers in Emily’s t-shirt and held her. She leaned in and pressed her lips gently to her neck.
She closed her eyes at the sting in them. It was a relief to be able to do this, to be allowed to touch, without feeling like she was radioactive, like everything she did could poison the people she cared about. She had kissed Didi who had looked at her with wide surprised eyes and then hugged her around the neck and tried to smother her with kisses in response. She hadn’t realized that she had been keeping such a distance until she knew she didn’t have to anymore. But it had been safe that way, and it was so obvious that there was nothing safe about this anymore.
* * *
In the morning Emily was awoken with a jerk by a cannonball careening into the bed.
“It snowed!” Didi bounced and flipped, crashing down onto the mattress in a heap.
“Don’t- don’t do that! It’s dangerous.”
Didi bounced again. “But it snowed!!!”
Emma pulled the pillow over her head and groaned into it. “God, leave me alone, I’m trying to sleep.”
“Don’t you want to see the snow!?! I want to go sledding! Jillian told me I have to go sledding!”
“Sledding?” Emily felt nervous. “Are you sure? I don’t know if I know how to do that.”
“What’s snow like? Is it warm? It looks soft. Is it soft?”
Emma pulled the pillow down and scowled at both of them. “Are you serious? You’ve never seen snow before?”
Didi cocked her head and looked puzzled.
Then Emma turned her glare to Emily. “And you don’t know how to sled? It is probably the sport that requires the least ingenuity or technique.” She blinked and frowned again. “You’ve really never gone sledding?”
Emily looked uncomfortable. “We lived in the Middle East until I was twelve. There wasn’t a lot of opportunity there, and when my mom moved to the USSR she said I was too old, so I got ski lessons instead. I… wasn’t very good at skiing.”
Emma narrowed her eyes. “What does that mean?”
“It means I broke both my legs and had a private tutor for six months.”
Emma covered her face.
“I got to skip a grade because of that.” Emily smiled weakly. “But I don’t really like snow.”
“I want sledding!” Didi intoned firmly, bounding on the mattress with decisiveness.
“Fine!” Emma glared at her. “Go downstairs and put the water on. We will go after breakfast.”
Didi obeyed with enthusiasm, and Emily slid guiltily out of the bed. “I have some work I need to catch up on, so…”
“Oh no,” Emma interrupted. “You are coming. It is clearly time to start making up for your stunted and horribly maimed childhood.”
Emily did not want to go. Snow sports meant blood and ice and ambulances and brushes with gangrene caused by frostbite and she was perfectly happy to stay inside with a nice not dangerous book. And she was rather offended. “You’re the one who said your childhood was crap. Don’t insult mine.”
"I didn't actually know how awful yours was back then. You might still be in the running. Anyways," Emma smiled. “It didn’t really go to hell until early adolescence. Before then my brother always took me sledding.” Emma laughed suddenly, amused by her own thought, and gave her a sly grin. “He would have made you go, if you had been married to him.”
Emily arched an eyebrow, remembering too many times people had convinced her to do things for her own good. “The more you talk about him, the more he seems like exactly the type of guy I would have end up involved with,” she noted dryly.
Emma gave her a long steady look, the laughter gone from her face. “I did mention that he was a faggot and a drug addict, right?”
Emily wrinkled her nose in revulsion and glanced to the door, making sure Didi hadn’t crept back in. “Don’t use that word,” she snapped, and then frowned. “And you don’t know my track record with substance abusing gay boys. If we’re going by statistics here, he would be exactly my type.”
Emma rolled her eyes. “I never thought I’d be glad he’s dead, if only to save you from your own idiotic predilections.”
* * *
Didi barely ate her breakfast, she was so excited about sledding, and Emily barely ate hers due to her utter petrification at the concept. Emma thought they were both idiots, but there was nothing new about this situation. Didi was ready to rush outside with her coat hanging open but Emma dropped onto her knees and harnessed her into snow pants and mittens and a hat, and then she looked at Emily in her jeans and a jacket and narrowed her eyes.
"Layers, darling, or you're going to freeze your ass off."
Didi started giggling at the bad word and fell over. After a while, Emily had gotten used to the falling over and took it in stride.
"I think we need to institute something to cut down on the swearing."
Emma arched an eyebrow. "That isn't swearing." She looked at Didi, "Unless you're four. And it's all your money either way."
"Then we pay favors."
Emma grinned. "Sexual ones?"
Emma got up and smacked her ass. "Layers. I can find a jar."
Once Emily had passed inspection they set off to buy a sled. It was pink. Emily was vaguely humiliated carrying it about. There was a park nearby with a good hill and it was already overcome by small neon figures and slower moving parents.
"It still looks dangerous," Emily grumbled.
Emma laughed. "You don't know dangerous until you've made a sled route down a gorge through a forest that ends in a frozen stream guarded by a rusty barbed wire fence."
Emily stared at her.
"It was incredible. There was this one part where the tree was bent at a thirty degree angle right over the route and you had to lie down at just the right time or get hit in the head."
"Don't give her ideas!"
"My brother ripped his pants on the barbed wire, and he was in so much trouble!"
Emily opened her mouth to scold again, but how could she when she had never seen such an open smile on Emma's face before. "All right," she said. "I guess I can try it."
Emma's face lit up with mischeif and she chased her up the hill.
"Wait for me!" Didi complained. "It's too deep!"
Emma decided that if they did not find an appropriately steep area, it would not be completely successful, and she muscled out a few ten year olds on toy snowboards.
"Why can't we go there," Emily whined, indicating the easy slope where most of the parents with small children were. Even Didi gave her a dirty look.
"How is it possible that you are an FBI agent with absolutely no sense of adventure."
"I like adventure just fine! With appropriate saftey precautions." Emily pouted. "And without snow." She glanced around. The sky was blue but flakes were being blown from the trees on gusts of wind. "It reminds me of things I don't really like."
"You were the one who moved to Minneapolis." Emma rolled her eyes. "And anyway, the only real danger of sledding is hypothermia."
There were some good tracks already and Emma organized things, putting Didi in the front and climbing in behind her. "You get to push the first time, so you aren't so scared."
"I'm not scared i'm just practical." Emily complained but gave them a firm shove onto the steep bit and then went trundling down the hill, admittedly not at a breakneck pace.
They skidded to a stop at the bottom and Didi hopped out happily. "Do it again! Again!"
When they reached the top of the hill, Emma pushed Emily towards the sled. "Your turn."
Feeling a bit of an idiot, Emily climbed in behind Didi and clung to the flimsy edges of the sled. Emma leaned over to give them a push. "It should be a bit faster now."
"Traitor!" Emily yelped as the sled took off down the now packed snow. Didi squealed in delight.
She was not so enthused about walking back up and Emily dragged her in the sled. When she got to the top she spotted one of her school friends and begged off to go play. The mother waved and Emma let her go. She turned around to where Emily was bouncing up and down on her toes.
"I want to go again. But my excuse is gone."
Emma laughed and pushed her into the sled. She slid in behind her and wrapped her legs around her. They jerked it forward until they hit the fulcrum and the sled went plunging down the slope.
At the bottom they hit a little dip and capsized in a pile of limbs and plastic sled. They laughed as they untangled themselves. Emily had gotten twisted up in the rope and as she was extricating herself something hard and cold exploded in the back of her head. She reached back to her collar and dug out a handful of snow. Shooting a look around she spotted Emma, doubled over with laughter.
"Oh, no way!"
And the battle began in earnest.
It ended with Emily, having lost both of her gloves and hat, with her hair soaked by snow employing a judo throw to send them both down, and then keeping Emma pinned and rubbing snow in her face enthusiastically while Emma managed to stuff handfuls of the stuff down the back of her jacket.
Didi was standing over them, watching reproachfully. "I'z cold. I want to go home."
They managed to get up and find their stuff, and shake out their clothes. Didi was tired and Emma hoisted her up to her shoulders, where she sat clinging to her head.
As they were walking back towards the gate Emily noticed a man with a small boy in orbit giving them a dirty look. She looked back at him, sharply, and he tipped up his nose.
"You shouldn't bring your girlfriend when you're babysitting," he commented, as if to the universe.
"Should I bring my wife?" Emily shot back. "When we're playing with our daughter?"
The success she felt at his suddenly reddening face was immediately dissipated at the blatant look of shock on Emma's.
"I'm sorry," she said awkwardly. "I shouldn't have responded to that."
Emma gave her a tense half smile. "It doesn't matter." She gave her another odd look as they kept moving towards the car. "It's just, I've heard you lie a couple times, and that... it didn't sound like a lie."
Emily dropped the keys and had to scrounge around in the slush underneath the car for them. But it gave her the moment she needed to recover herself and not admit that it hadn't felt like a lie when she said it either. She smiled awkwardly. "I never thought I'd be offended at being taken for the babysitter, since that's sort of what we are."
She didn't notice the sudden jerkiness that overtook Emma's movements as she finished clipping the belt on the booster seat, or, when she slid into the passenger seat and closed the door that her face which had been flushed with warmth and the friction of snowscrubbing was pale again. She was too busy backing out of the parking space and being horribly, irrationally jealous of another Emily from another universe.
* * *