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Power Over Me

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Hotch braces himself as he heads into the conference room to deliver the news to the rest of his team. He knows JJ being taken will affect all of them, but he’s especially concerned about Emily’s reaction. She’s been on edge and worried about JJ since the minute they took this case; JJ being the latest victim is not going to sit well with her.

 

He clears his throat, and the room stills. The air grows thick with tension as the team looks to him expectantly. Hotch gives each of his agents one of his many intense stares, and they all sit wordlessly– all except Emily.

 

The minute he locks eyes with her, he knows. She’s already putting it together. The gears are turning, her eyes shifting between his. Searching. Pleading for a different conclusion. Emily holds his gaze hesitantly for a moment before she speaks. “Hotch,” she starts. “Where’s JJ?”

 

The words hang in the air between them. They’re suspended, stretching out to assault anyone who hears them. Time seems to stand still. The whole team shifts to the edges of their seats. It didn’t take a profiler to know something was very, very wrong.

 

“As you know, Rossi and I went back to the crime scene–”

 

“Hotch,” Emily interrupts. Her voice is louder, more insistent. “ Where is JJ?

 

“We don’t know. We found her gun on the ground outside the warehouse.” He pauses. “She’s gone.”

 

The words hit her ears like any other sentence– any other case with any other victim. But this isn’t just another victim. After a few moments, Emily processes the weight of the words that are still ringing and reverberating around the sickeningly silent conference room. She’s gone.

 

And then she springs into a flurry of action. Emily whips her phone out and is dialing Garcia’s number before any of her teammates have even registered the news. “Garcia!” She barks. “Where’s that list of possible matches? Any that stand out? We need to get moving!”

 

Garcia chirps out a rather nervous reply but Emily is already moving on. She almost yells into her phone for Garcia to send her the file ASAP while she storms out into the main area of the station.

 

“Detective. Get me everything you’ve got on known sexual offenders. Put extra focus on men with troubled pasts. I need a rush on this! Make it a priority.”

 

Detective Sampson looks bewildered as Emily continues her rampage through the station. Her entire body is vibrating with rage and determination. They aren’t doing enough. Nobody is doing anything. The fact that they still don’t have any leads is enough to push her over the edge. She refuses to let the case continue in the direction it’s been going.

 

Hotch chases after her. “Prentiss!” he calls, but she doesn’t look back. 

 

“Prentiss.” He repeats. His hand is on her shoulder now. “Emily,” he pleads. His voice is stern but it’s laced with softness. He knows. He knows how hard Emily is taking this. He knows how she works. He knows.

 

“Hotch, I can’t just sit in that damn conference room and theorize while that bastard is out there with JJ!” The lump in Emily’s throat is growing bigger by the second, but she swallows it down. She’s suffocating– drowning in her nightmares, her worst fears come to life– but she forces it out of her mind. Right now all she cares about is finding Jennifer Jareau.

 

“I know, Emily. But we have to be smart about this. It isn’t going to do us any good to exhaust our resources chasing dead ends.” Hotch nods his head towards the conference room, gesturing for her to follow. “Come on. We can make a game plan. We’ll find her, Emily.”

 

Reluctantly, Emily follows him back into the conference room. Reid looks like he’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Morgan is glaring at the board in front of him as if it was the unsub right in front him. Rossi is standing in the corner, quietly watching the team’s reaction. They all turn when Emily reenters with Hotch.

 

“Let’s get to work.”





***



JJ feels a hard surface beneath her. There’s a sharp pain shooting up through her hip and she realizes she’s been thrown onto the ground. JJ doesn’t know how long she’s been out, but she knows she’s surrounded by nothing but darkness. She goes to push herself upright, but her hands are tied. 

 

Throbbing pains surge through her head when a door opens and light floods into the room. JJ can make out the silhouette of the man who took her. “They’ll find you,” she spats.

 

A cold, shrill laugh reverberates through the room. Involuntary chills shoot through JJ’s body. The man walks closer to her. He takes his time, deliberately putting one foot in front of the other. It’s his grand entrance; he wants to enjoy it. The man crouches down beside JJ. His breath is hot on her face. He moves even closer– inches from JJ’s face– and smiles. “Oh, but will they? You guys have nothing on me.” He laughs. “ Nothing.

 

The unsub slowly gets up, shooting another menacing look at JJ. He’s definitely enjoying this. Sadistic doesn’t even begin to cover it. He walks away and when his back is turned, JJ can hear the clinking of chains. 

 

JJ feels pressure on her restraints and then all at once she’s being pulled upright, the harsh surface of the concrete scraping at her skin. She feels blood spring from the new wounds as her body stretches painfully to accommodate the sudden change in position. She’s hanging from the ropes around her wrists, her feet barely scraping the ground. She has nothing to help hold her up. Gravity pulls against her as the ropes rip into her skin to keep her standing.

 

“Oh, poor Jennifer . Did that hurt?” The man circles back to stand in front of JJ. He runs his fingers down her cheek. “Such a pretty girl.” He slides his hand further down her body, resting it on her hip. “You know,” he starts. “I think I’m gonna take my time with you. Have some fun with it.”

 

JJ swallows– a reaction she’s powerless to control. Her body tenses as she trains her eyes on the man in front of her. She can feel his calloused fingertips ghost against her skin until they stop over a particularly nasty cut on her stomach. He traces it, softly at first, and then he’s pushing into it so hard JJ’s vision blurs from the pain. She bites her lip. JJ can taste the metallic pang of blood from the force, but she won’t give in. She’s not going to let this man hear her scream.

 

“Why so quiet? Cat got your tongue?” His thumb goes deeper into the wound. JJ bites down harder, her eyes involuntarily squeezing shut. She tries to take a controlled breath through her nose. “Now, now, Agent. Live a little. Let me hear that pretty voice of yours.”

 

I have to ground myself. JJ frantically wracks her brain for the most peaceful experience she can think of, and then it hits her. Soon enough, images of Emily’s arms wrapped around her fill the darkness behind her eyelids. She walks herself back through every detail– the way her hair smelled, the warmth of her body against hers, the way Emily called her baby when she thought she was asleep. 

 

The pain slips from her consciousness as memories of her morning with Emily replace the terrors of reality. JJ focuses on her breath, imagining the reason it slows is because Emily is pulling her closer, caressing her face to gently wake her up. Baby, she whispers in her ear. JJ replays the moment over and over, like a mantra. Nothing else matters– not the pain, the fear, the man standing before her. Just that one soft word, murmured in the peaceful glow of the morning light. Baby.

 

The man pulls a knife from his pocket, frustration radiating off of him. He’s determined to make the woman before him scream. JJ feels the knife drag down her abdomen, pain searing through the cut like a fire.

 

Baby.

 

The knife stops moving, stilled deep in JJ’s flesh. And then she feels it. The man twists the knife, ripping through the muscle, tearing apart her body in its wake.

 

Baby.

 

He slowly pulls the knife out, taking care to prolong the process as much as possible. JJ is struggling to breathe as he walks away. Is it over?

 

Suddenly there’s something hard and cold against the side of her ribcage, and without warning, JJ can feel the excruciating shocks of electricity pulsing through her nerves. 

 

Baby.

 

He turns up the voltage, and JJ sees spots behind her eyelids.

 

Baby.

 

Everything gets fuzzy. JJ can feel herself slumping against her restraints, her body unwillingly sagging against her captor. He turns up the voltage. Unbearable pain surges through JJ’s entire body. Everything goes black.

 

Baby.



***

 

Emily is sitting at the table in the conference room. The rest of her team is scattered about the police station– Reid sat pouring over old case files of potential fathers, Morgan pacing the break room going over the profile again and again. Hotch and Rossi are huddled in a corner, speaking in hushed tones and shooting concerned glances at everyone in the team; this doesn’t go unnoticed by Emily. 

 

She pushes it away, though, as she stares at the crime scene photos in front of her. She’s been studying them– in agonizing detail– to the point that she could close her eyes and still see every cut, every bruise, every single rip and tear in the fabric once known as clothes clinging to the lifeless victims. Emily flips back to the first victim again. She thinks it’s probably the millionth time she’s looked at her picture. Bella Smith, twenty-seven years old, now known to the world only in sound bites. Her name, her age, her hair color, and how she died. The world doesn’t seem to care that she was out for a walk with her infant son when the unsub took her– or that she leaves behind a heartbroken husband, unable to look his son in the eye because of how much he reminds him of her. All anyone sees are the scars that son of a bitch left on her body. The bruises that will never heal. The fear that still glimmered in her eyes when she died.

 

Emily looks into the haunted blue eyes of Bella Smith and she can’t help but shudder at the thought of what JJ might be going through. Does she have a nasty cut above her right eye like the one Bella had? Are there burns all over her body? God, just the idea of JJ being held captive by that monster is enough to bring up Emily’s lunch.

 

Tracing the outline of Bella’s face, Emily wills herself not to see JJ. JJ is alive. JJ will never be just a string of sound bites to the world. She’s so much more than that. People will remember her as a hero. As the brilliant, unparalleled media liaison of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. She’ll never be known as merely the fifth victim of this unsub: name, age, hair color. Emily will die making sure of it– that much she knows.

 

A tear splashes neatly onto the pictures, and it’s only then that Emily realizes she’s crying. She angrily wipes at the tears streaking her cheeks and looks around the conference room to make sure nobody can see her. She has to keep it together. JJ needs her. She can’t be falling apart looking at pictures of what already happened; she needs to be strong enough to stop it from happening again.

 

When she’s sure nobody has seen her, Emily heads to the bathroom. She’s going to pull herself together, clean herself up, and get back to finding JJ. There was just no alternative. 



***



Out of the corner of his eye, Derek sees Prentiss get up from her spot at the table in the conference room. She’s been there for hours staring at the case files; Derek’s pretty sure the director himself couldn’t pull her away from trying to piece the puzzle together. And that’s when he sees it: her eyes are rimmed with just enough red for it to be more than exhaustion. They’re just a little too glassy, her face just a little too pained. As Morgan watches his teammate stumble into the bathroom– a teammate he considers more like a sister– he knows. She’s about to break down.



***



Emily can feel her knees weaken with every step. Her resolve crumbles with every tear she holds back, as if the sheer act of holding it in is enough to make her implode in on herself. She finds herself gripping the sink to hold herself up. How can this be happening? How could I have let it happen? Tears are falling freely now as Emily gives in to the despair building within herself. She’s powerless to stop the sobs as they wrack through her body. Her breathing quickens, her heart pounds in her chest, and all she can feel is the tears making a mess of her otherwise collected and composed demeanor. 

 

Images of the victims flash before her eyes, except this time, they’re all JJ. With each blink, a new image of JJ appears. Emily’s battling her mind as she tries everything she can think of to calm herself down. We’re going to find her, Emily. Get a grip. Her throat’s constricting now and she’s pretty sure she’s about to break the sink with how hard she’s squeezing it. It’s all she can do to keep herself standing.

 

“Oh, Emily.” Derek’s voice cuts through Emily’s sobs, startling her.

 

She turns, trying to hide her vulnerability from him. “Go away, Derek.”

 

“Not gonna happen, Princess.”

 

Panic rises as Emily tries to keep her distance. “Derek, leave!” she shrieks.

 

Morgan takes a step closer, gently turning Emily around to face him. “Emily.” 

 

The concern in his eyes pierces through her and all at once, the emotions become too much for Emily. “How could we let this happen?” she screams at Derek. “I knew she was his type! How could you not see it? ” She lunges towards Morgan and frantically starts throwing punches into his chest. They’re weak, but it’s something. Tears are flowing faster now as she continues weakly. “I knew. I knew this would happen.” She looks up at Morgan. “Hotch told me not to worry! LOOK WHERE THAT GOT US, DEREK. JJ IS GONE. SHE’S–”

 

Emily’s knees buckle underneath her and Derek catches her as she falls to the ground. “I can’t help her. I feel powerless. JJ is out there all alone while that… that bastard does god-knows-what to her and I’m paralyzed with fear.” Emily can barely see through the tears built up in her eyes now. “How can I help her when I can’t even hold it together? I’m useless, Derek.”

 

Morgan’s heart breaks with every word that escapes Emily’s mouth. “Shhh. Hey. Don’t say that, Princess.” He strokes her hair as Emily sobs into his chest, no longer able to string together sentences to convey how she feels. Derek can feel her entire body shake with sobs as he holds her– can feel the tears soaking through his shirt and seeping onto his skin. “She’s strong, Em. JJ will be okay. I promise.”

 

At his words, Emily lets out a gut wrenching cry. She’s not even aware of the sound until it’s ripped from her throat. “You don’t know that, Derek.” Emily’s voice is small, broken, raspy with the effort it takes for her to speak.

 

“Yes I do, Princess. And you do, too.”

 

Emily hiccups as she finally gives up the fight and releases the tension in her body. She falls deeper into Derek’s arms as she cries, acutely aware that if he weren’t here, she’d be a puddle of tears on the ground.

 

Emily’s not sure how much time has passed when she finally looks up at Derek through the clumped mascara that she’s sure is also running down her entire face. She takes a deep, steadying breath. “Thanks, Derek,” she offers quietly while she gets up and regains her balance. She’s had her time to cry. She’s had her time to break down. Now it’s time to find JJ .

 

She glances in the mirror and haphazardly wipes at the makeup and tear stains on her face before turning to Morgan. “Let’s go find her.”



***



The overwhelming urge to cough wakes JJ from her fitful sleep. Her throat is scratchy and dry, and every inch of her body aches. She squints into the darkness, unsure of how long it’s been since she was taken. She can feel dried blood and sweat caked on her skin as she tries to sit up. 

 

Doubling over, JJ takes a sharp intake of breath as her body gives her a painful reminder of the torture the unsub had inflicted. She leans against the hard cement wall behind her and tries to take stock of her injuries. Her stomach is littered with lacerations, the sensitive burns on her side bubbling up. JJ thinks they’re probably infected. She raises her hands before her eyes, taking in the bruising running along her arms. 

 

Fresh tears clear a path through the grime covering JJ’s face as the gravity of the situation hits her. She’s bound by her wrists in a dark warehouse. She can barely move from the pain. She’s alone. Left for dead– or worse– helpless to wait for the man to come back for more. JJ isn’t sure she can take anymore.

 

She thinks of her team– wonders if they’ve gotten any more leads. Please let them find me. Her tears spill out faster now, JJ’s shaky breaths sending waves of pain through her body, but she’s powerless to stop them. She feels defenseless, helpless. Broken. She tries to think back to her morning with Emily, but it only makes her cry harder. I’m never going to feel her arms around me again. Never hear her voice again.

 

JJ’s whimpers echo and dance off the walls of the empty room. Her pain amplified in the darkness. “Emily,” she sobs. “Emily, please.”

 

She wraps her arms around herself in a fruitless attempt at comfort. She wishes they were Emily’s arms around her. JJ lets out a strangled cry as even the thought of being comforted brings a new pain to the surface. Will I ever see Emily again? The realization dawns on her. It’s been right in front of her the whole time. Everything she wants. Everything she needs. It’s Emily. It’s always been Emily. All of her thoughts, tucked away for fear of what they could mean– they all make sense. And now I’ll never get the chance.

 

JJ makes no attempts to silence her sobs as they fill the room. Her entire body is shaking, both from the pain and from her cries, and she lies herself down on the hard, unyielding floor. 

 

JJ’s breaths become shallow, labored. She squeezes her eyes shut, trying desperately to quell the tears. “I’m sorry, Emily,” she whispers as she gives in to the pain. JJ lets the tears escape. She closes her eyes and tries to take herself back to the hotel. All she wants is to sleep. To sleep and forget.



***

 

Reid is sitting in the conference room pouring over old case files Garcia flagged as possible connections to the unsub. There are hushed conversations between officers filling the otherwise silent precinct and the room he’s in smells of stale coffee. His team is spread out throughout the room– Rossi is stretched out on the couch in the corner pinching his nose between his thumb and forefinger. Reid is pretty sure he can hear him muttering to himself in Italian. Emily is pacing in front of the board they have set up, stopping every so often to look at something more closely. Derek is on the phone to Garcia, listing off parameters for new searches in an effort to find a solid lead. Hotch is whispering to Detective Sampson, the harsh lines of his face somehow deeper than Spencer’s ever seen them.

 

Reid sighs and analyzes the file in his hands. He’d been at it for a little over an hour, but he doesn’t mind because he knows if anybody else tried to go through the cases, they’d be reading for days. It’s just something he’s accepted comes with the territory of reading twenty thousand words per minute.

 

He sets the file he’d been reading down and grabs another one from the stack. It only takes him a few seconds before he knows this case is significant. Adrenaline rushes through his veins as Spencer quickly makes his way to the front of the room. “Guys, I think I found something!”

 

His colleagues perk up from their respective places around the room, each one rushing towards him. They’re all running largely on caffeine and fear at this point, so any news feels like good news. “Harrison Moss, thirty-two, died in a car crash leaving behind a wife and twelve year old son. Foul play was suspected but eventually ruled out when nothing panned out. It was ruled an accident.”

 

Morgan hits the number for Garcia on his speed dial. She answers after one ring. “Please tell me you’ve found JJ and I can go back to watching kitten videos in peace.”

 

“Not quite, baby girl. I need everything you’ve got on Harrison Moss. Died in a car accident twenty years ago. Could’ve been a murder.”

 

The sound of Garcia typing at lightning speed floats through the phone’s small speaker as the team waits for more information. Even Garcia can’t type fast enough to keep their nerves at bay. Not when one of their own is on the line.

 

“Got it! Harrison Moss, husband of Danielle Moss, father of Jeremy Moss. His brakes went out on his drive home from work, but it was suspected they were cut. When they couldn’t find any evidence confirming the theory, the detectives ruled it an accident and closed the case.”

 

“Look into his medical history, Garcia. Were there frequent hospital visits? Check the son’s medical records, too.” Hotch barks at the phone.

 

“Oh this is interesting. Harrison had several visits to the ER with injuries consistent with domestic abuse, but since Danielle never had more than some minor bruising and surface cuts, nobody questioned it further. It looks like they didn’t think Harrison could be a victim,” Garcia reads from her screen as her fingers tap away on her keyboard in the background.

 

Spencer chimes in with the statistics. “While it’s generally assumed domestic violence happens exclusively against women, one in four men in the US will actually fall victim to it. If you average it out, one male is abused by his partner every 37.8 seconds.”

 

“So Danielle abuses her husband, and nobody thinks to question it because she’s a woman?” Emily’s voice is filled with disbelief and disgust.

 

“Harrison never filed a report,” Garcia shrugs.

 

Hotch cuts back into the conversation. “What about their son? Any ER visits?”

 

More typing comes through the speakers as Garcia searches for the requested information. “They’re much less frequent, but they’re there. I’ve got five ER visits by the time the poor kid was ten.”

 

Emily shakes her head. “So just infrequent enough to keep social services off her back.”

 

“And here’s where the plot thickens, my fine furry friends. The son, Jeremy, moved out when he was fifteen and disappears a few years later when he turns eighteen. No bank statements, no address, nothing.” 

 

“What about the wife? What happened to her, baby girl?” Morgan questions.

 

“Looks like she got a decent sized life insurance payout and moved a few towns over. Still lives there now.”

 

“Send us the address, Garcia,” Hotch orders as he moves towards the door. “And keep looking for the son. He could be our unsub.” He directs his attention to his team. “Morgan, Prentiss, you’re with me.”

 

“I will leave no stone unturned, sir. If he so much as got a cold, I’ll find it.”



***



JJ sputters and coughs as she’s forcefully awakended by her captor. The hard surfaces around her scrape at her already broken and bruised skin as he jolts her awake. “Up,” he barks.

 

Slowly, JJ manages to sit upright– despite the aching pain all over her body. “What do you want?” she throws back. She hopes her disgust breaks through the pain she can hear in her voice.

 

The unsub lets out a cold, calculated laugh before he considers the woman before him. He cocks his head while he locks eyes with Jennifer. No woman has held out this long. Certainly not well enough to look him in the eyes. Definitely not well enough to keep from screaming for this long. No, this one is different, he thinks. He ponders his answer for a moment more before he speaks. “You know, Jennifer, I think I might want the whole set.”

 

JJ is taken aback by his answer, and even moreso by his honesty. “Set of what?”

 

“If your stamina is anything to go by, I think maybe I might like brunettes, after all.” He pauses. His eyes narrow and a wicked grin plays across his face before he continues. “ One brunette in particular. You seem to be quite fond of her, actually.”

 

Rage shoots through JJ’s impossibly exhausted body at the mention of Emily. “Don’t you dare.” She struggles against her bindings, but it’s no use. The last thing she hears is the man’s laugh echoing around the room before he hits her, rendering her unconscious.



***



The team pulls up to Danielle Moss’s residence, and everyone takes in a collective breath. This could be the break they need to bring JJ home. Hotch shoots a sideways glance at Emily and notices she’s picking at her nails– a sure sign that she’s trying to hide her stress. He puts the car in park and they all file out of the SUV.

 

Emily can feel Hotch studying her, but she doesn’t have the strength to protest. All of her energy is going into calming the nerves threatening to push her over the edge. Being so close to a real lead– it’s almost too much hope for her to handle. She doesn’t know if she should give in to the hope or push it away. What if Moss isn’t their unsub? What then? It’s the only thing they have to go on, and right now, JJ’s life depends on them. Emily shudders at the thought.

 

She’s the last to get out of the SUV, and half the team is already at the door, waiting. Emily jogs her way to the door and gives them a nod. She’s ready. Hotch knocks forcefully on the door and they all hold their breath waiting for a response.

 

JJ’s life hangs in the balance.



***

 

Blue eyes pierce into Emily’s brown when the door creaks open in front of her. Strong eyebrows flecked with grey arch above them, questioning. Emily holds the woman’s gaze for a moment before taking in the rest of the woman’s appearance. Soft wrinkles wrap around her face and a few age spots are beginning to peek through the delicate skin. Her hair is  light– the color looks almost platinum until Emily looks closer. Grey mixes with blonde as the strands fall haphazardly around the woman’s face and rest atop her shoulders.

 

“Can I help you?” the woman barks, clearly unamused by her unannounced visitors.

 

Emily forces a smile through the unease and disdain she immediately feels. “Ms. Moss?” she extends her hand, “I’m Agent Prentiss with the FBI. May we come in?”

 

Danielle Moss makes a show of looking Emily up and down before settling her eyes on her outstretched hand. Her contempt is clear on her face as she steps aside, wordlessly allowing the team to enter.

 

Followed closely by her team, Emily steps into Danielle’s tidy– almost sterile– home. There’s a throw blanket neatly folded sitting on the corner of the couch, where each pillow is perfectly placed. The fireplace looks as if the wood inside it is plastic, and the mantle houses only three pictures, none of which include Danielle’s late husband or estranged son.

 

Upon a closer look at the first of the photos, Emily is struck by the woman pictured. The photos are aged somewhat, but staring back at her is undoubtedly a younger Danielle. What sends chills down her spine, though, is the resemblance to JJ; she could be her twin. Emily can’t seem to shake the brilliant blue eyes staring back at her through the frame. Clearly, Jeremy Moss is their unsub. And this is where his victimology began.

 

Shaking Emily out of her reverie, Danielle speaks. “To what do I owe the pleasure of having a whole team of FBI agents showing up at my door?”

 

Hotch and Rossi hover silently close to the front door, while Reid and Morgan are at either side of Emily. She takes a tentative step towards Danielle. “Ma’am, have you spoken to your son recently?”

 

“Jeremy?” Danielle Moss sounds incredulous. “What do you want with my sad excuse for a son?” Her disdain for him is evident. She doesn’t even try to hide it. The team exchanges knowing looks.

 

Hotch jumps in. “We believe he could be connected to the recent string of murders.”

 

Danielle laughs. It’s shrill, maniacal even. “My boy? There’s no way. He doesn’t have the guts.”

 

“Do you have any idea of his whereabouts?” Emily pushes.

 

Danielle rolls her eyes before answering. “Beats me. Haven’t seen or heard from that son of a bitch since he was eighteen. Your guess  is as good as mine. Are we done here?”

 

Hotch takes another step closer to Danielle. “Not quite,” he interjects. “What can you tell us about what happened to your husband?”

 

Narrowing her eyes, Danielle stares heatedly at Hotch. “Was an accident. Nothing to tell.” Her tone is defiant– defensive. It’s clear the team wouldn’t be getting anything more from Danielle Moss.



***

 

 

JJ is awoken by the hoarse voice of Jeremy Moss cutting through the fog that’s taken up residence in her brain. Her eyelids feel impossibly heavy as she strains to open her eyes to find the source of the sound.

 

“Wake up, bitch! Ready for more?”

 

The familiar pull of her restraints jerks JJ up without warning. She lets out a groan as her body stretches painfully once more. She can feel a few wounds on her stomach burst open from the force, but she’s too focused on the man in front of her to care. It takes every ounce of strength JJ has left to face her captor yet again.

 

“You won’t break me,” JJ hisses. A surge of adrenaline rushes through her veins as Jeremy inches closer.

 

“Oh?” he starts. “And why won’t I?” His eyes flicker with cruel curiosity and JJ can see him toying with something in his hands.

 

She shuts her eyes, takes a deep breath, and tries to center herself. When she looks back up at the man in front of her, there’s nothing but hatred in her eyes. “You’re nothing,” she spats.



 

“You’re nothing. Just like your father!” Twelve year old Jeremy Moss runs to his room, desperately seeking the solace underneath his bed can provide. His mom storms after him, livid.

 

He tries to hold his breath, even though he knows his mom will find him. She always does. “You think you can hide from me?” Her voice grows louder now, and he knows he’s done for.

 

His mother’s footsteps ring out like warning bells before they abruptly stop. He can hear his dad’s voice. Jeremy stifles the tears as he listens to his parents fight. A loud crack breaks through the noise and Jeremy watches in horror as his father falls to the ground in front of him. There’s blood trickling from the corner of his mouth when he locks eyes with his son. Jeremy’s eyes widen at the sight of his dad, rendered powerless with just one strike from his mother.

 

The footsteps return and he knows this time, nothing will stop his mom from unleashing that same rage on him. All he can do is wait for it to happen. Right there, under his bed, Jeremy decides he doesn’t want to lie down and take it anymore; he wants to fight.

 

With everything he can muster, Jeremy races towards his mother. He gets in a few feeble punches before she grabs his wrists. Soon, he joins his father on the floor. Everything goes black.

 

“What did you just say to me?” Jeremy’s voice is icy cold, barely above a whisper, and his grip on the jumper cables tightens.

 

JJ hears the tone in her captor’s voice shift and she knows she’s hit a nerve. “You’re nothing,” she repeats. She can feel a hint of energy surge through her body and wonders if maybe, just maybe , she’ll make it until her team finds her. Until Emily finds her.

 

“SHUT UP!” His voice crashes through the room like a gunshot; the sound bounces and echoes in the darkness, leaving behind a palpable rage. Jeremy closes the distance between him and JJ and, without warning, he presses the cables against her skin.

 

Searing pain courses through every inch of JJ’s body. He presses the cables in further, and JJ hears a scream escape her throat. It’s raspy– raw– and she registers that at some point, she started crying. Momentary relief comes when Jeremy takes the cables away, but as soon as they had gone, they were right back where they had been. Burning. Blistering. Tearing her apart from the inside out. Any energy JJ may have mustered up seems like a distant memory now. She idly wonders if death would be a welcome escape from the fury that the man before her has unleashed.

 

Minutes pass, or maybe hours– JJ doesn’t really know– before Jeremy pulls the cables away for good. She can see his lips moving, but all she can hear is the ringing in her ears. He walks wildly around the room, pausing and gesturing his hands for emphasis, but JJ’s vision blurs. All she knows is pain. 

 

When he notices JJ isn’t listening to him, Jeremy lunges towards her. The cables are back. They’re on maximum voltage and JJ thinks she can see stars. She looks to his mouth and can see it forming the words, “I’m just getting started.”

 

JJ feels her lungs start to constrict. Her throat feels tight and all at once, the panic seeps into her system. There’s no way out, no escape. There is only this present, neverending torture. She can feel her hands itching to claw at the ropes that bind her, her skin crawling with the urge to move. JJ feels like her whole body is vibrating with the need to run– to throw something at the man causing her pain, anything.

 

Instead, she stays insufferably still. Her voice has been silenced. I can’t make a difference, she thinks. Her last shred of hope leaves like it’s the last breath she’ll ever take, and JJ slumps into the ropes holding her upright. For once in her life, JJ has no fight left. The pain, the anguish, the torture, all of it– it’s taken her will to keep going, to keep moving. She has nothing left. Nothing but regret. JJ thinks if this really is the end, she wishes she could’ve had more time. More time to tell Emily everything she felt. Time to get to know her friend the way she really wanted. Instead, JJ feels the trickling of blood sliding down her cheek and the feeling that she’ll never have a chance at the happiness she craved. This man wasn’t just taking her life; he was taking her soul, too.



***



Garcia’s typing is the only sound in the room as she furiously searches for answers behind her monitors. She’s tracked everything she can think of to try and locate Jeremy Moss, and she knows time is ticking for her poor Jennifer. 

 

Just when she thinks she’s tried it all, the idea strikes. With a few strokes of her keyboard, Jeremy Moss’s last known address pops up on her screen. She’s done it.

 

With her usual flourish, she hits her speed dial and the dulcet tones of Derek Morgan fill the room.

 

“Please tell me you have good news, baby girl.”

 

“I have better than good news. I have an address,” Garcia chirps proudly into the speaker.

 

“You’re the best, mama.”

 

“Go bring our girl home.”




***



The thrum of anticipation races through her veins and Emily can feel her heart pounding in her chest. Her nerves feel as though they’re vibrating at an impossible frequency inside her and all she can manage to do is keep herself focused on the door in front of her. Her chest feels eerily empty and she can’t stop the anxious shaking of her leg as she awaits what’s on the other side of the door. She’s on the verge of the unknown; she feels like her entire life is hanging in the balance. Emily’s never felt this uneasy– this unsure– before. Not ever. She’s always been the confident, determined, headstrong woman people know her as. She puts her head down and gets things done. She always gets what she wants, simply because she never gives herself another option. But now, with so much uncertainty seemingly mocking her very existence, Emily can do nothing else but question her every move. Never before have her decisions been this monumental before. Sure, her job required her to put her life and others’ lives on the line every day, but this– this felt all together different. New. Something Emily isn’t ready for but knows she needs to push through anyway.

 

What lies behind the door– and how she handles it– could change the course of her life forever. 

 

Emily knows it’s silly to think that way. It’s JJ’s life who is certain to be irrevocably damaged from this ordeal. But somehow, Emily knows her life hangs in the balance, as well. If her emotions throughout the past couple of days have proven anything, it’s that Emily cannot function without Jennifer Jareau. The thought alone is enough to send a normally composed Emily into a tailspin right in front of her entire team. 

 

She’s never been this unraveled, and it unnerved her. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t keep her emotions tidied up in their neat little boxes anymore. The cracks just keep getting wider and Emily knows it’s only a matter of time before they burst completely. Unable to hold in their contents any longer.

 

She takes a deep breath– a vain attempt to qualm her mounting nerves– as she knocks on the door. If their profile is anything to go by, Emily knows there won’t be an answer. She knows she’ll have to spring into action. She’s just not sure she trusts herself to do anything right anymore.

 

Her breath seems to be caught in her throat as she waits for the response that never comes. A quick look back to Morgan and a slight nod confirm that it’s now or never. JJ is somewhere on this property. They’re all sure of it. It was just a matter of finding her. Finding her before it was too late.

 

With one swift kick, Morgan forces the door off its hinges. They’re in.

 

Time to find Jennifer.



***