Morgan came out of the coffee shop and went around the side of the building where Emily and Lindsay were waiting. His mind flashed to the fact that that alley was where he found Emily nine months before. How different life might have been if she hadn't come home with him that night. Morgan was glad he didn’t know even if now he had to play Secret Squirrel. You did those things for your big sister. He might not have Sarah anymore, but he had Emily. It wasn’t the same but it was awesome, and much better than being alone.
“Is he in there?” Lindsay demanded. “Is that trollop with him?”
“Damn girl, I think you should limit the coffee consumption.” Morgan gave her a weird look. Then he looked at Emily.
“Calm down, Linz.” Emily took hold of her wrist. “Is he in there, Derek?”
“Yeah…and Sarah’s with him.”
Emily could feel Lindsay’s pulse quicken but she remained quiet.
“What's he doing?” Emily asked.
“They're talking at one of the back tables.” He replied.
“Are they sitting close together?”
“Yeah, I guess, and her hand is over his. In Jason’s defense he looks kinda uncomfortable.”
“Oh please.” Lindsay rolled her eyes. “He's uncomfortable because he brought some chickie pie to the coffee shop where his girlfriend comes. Damn, I actually thought he might be different. They're all the same…no offense Superman.”
Lindsay had been calling Morgan that since the first day they met. He’d been wearing his famous Superman logo tee shirt.
“Lets go in there and bust some heads.” She said, brimstone flashing in her eyes.
“No,” Emily shook her head. “I can't.”
“Why not?” Lindsay asked.
“I don’t want to make a fool of myself by bursting into tears in front of them!” Emily exclaimed. “She's a college girl…I don’t want her to…” She couldn’t finish the sentence. She felt the tears stabbing her eyes. Emily refused to blink because she knew they would fall and maybe never stop. Dammit, dammit, dammit!
“I'm so sorry, Emily.” Morgan put his hand on her shoulder but she gently moved away. He understood; she was seconds from detonation. There would be debris everywhere. Gideon was his homeboy but he felt the overwhelming urge to punch his lights out.
“You need to go home, Derek.” She said. “I mean it, no goofing off. Tell Hotch I’ll be home later.”
“What are you gonna do?” he asked.
She shrugged, unable to find the words. How bad did she want to go in there and have at the both of them? She wanted to pour hot coffee in Jason’s lap; make him hurt half as much as she did. And that damn Sarah, with her effortless smile, red hair, and hazel eyes. She was older, beautiful, sophisticated…Emily couldn’t hold a candle to her. She was Jason’s first true love and she was back in his life.
“I’ll see you later.”
Morgan slipped his hands in the pockets of his windbreaker and headed for home. He’d barely gotten six feet away when the sob broke through Emily’s crumbling façade and out in the air. Lindsay pulled her close, letting her cry. She let her bawl, sob, and shake. And with every gasp and tremble Lindsay imagined ramming her fist into Jason Gideon’s gut.
How could he do this? How could he claim to love Emily and really do this? How could he kiss her, hold her, and make all those false promises? No wonder he was telling Emily to wait, wait, wait. Sarah was probably giving him all that he needed. She was probably a ho…a dirty ho. Oh my God, Jason Gideon needed to die.
“I'm OK.” Emily pulled away, turning her back to her best friend. She absently wiped her tears and snotty face.
“You are so not OK, sweetie.”
“We need to get out of here, Linz. This alley has nothing but bad memories and they're getting worse by the minute. I don’t want Jason to see us.”
He’s a little occupied at the moment; Lindsay thought to herself but didn’t say. That was going to help anything. She just nodded and put her arm around Emily’s shoulder.
“Let’s go to the Georgetown Diner. We’ll drink coffee, eat hash browns, and smoke the good cloves.”
“You have the good cloves?” Emily asked as they headed for the subway station. It was starting to drizzle. The crappy weather fit her low mood.
“Damn straight. I told you that my dad knows this dude. He has some connections and was able to get me a carton of Ziganov Black Cherry Vanilla cloves.”
“How much did you pay?” Emily asked, glad to have something to distract her for the moment.
“$30, which isn’t too bad. He gave them to me on the slide…my dad would have a cow. But business is business you know. We don’t need to worry about all of that. Tonight we pull out all the stops.”
“Will it always ache like this, Linz?”
“I honestly don’t know.” Lindsay pressed her temple on Emily’s. She’d never been in love before. “I hope not though; I really do. Do you want to stay at my place tonight? I don't know if going home right now is the best idea.”
“Yeah, maybe you're right. Lets just get some food…I need to think.”
Lindsay nodded and they just walked in the early spring drizzle. It was chilly but neither girl minded much. She knew Emily was still crying, wished there was something she could really do to make it better. This would probably get harder before it got easier.
Their living together would be no help at all. Lindsay planned to be there every step of the way. That’s what best friends were for. Anyway, maybe Emily would change her mind about breaking both of Jason’s kneecaps.
“Excuse me, Mrs. Rossi?”
“Yes, Jennifer?” Erin smiled, pressing her intercom. She would never grow tired of being called Mrs. Rossi.
“I'm sorry ma'am, I know you didn’t have anymore appointments this afternoon but she insisted on seeing you.”
“Who?” Erin didn’t like last minute things. She had enough work to do.
“Emily Prentiss is out here.”
“Emily? Show her in please.”
Erin stood from her desk as Emily walked into the large office. She was dressed in her school uniform; green and white skirt, green sweater with the GDS patch on it, green tights, and a pair of clunky shoes that may have been Doc Martens. They could also be nice knockoffs…all the young girls knew where to get the knockoffs in DC. She carried a black fleece jacket and the messenger bag Erin and Dave bought her for Christmas was across her chest.
“Emily is everything alright?” she asked. “Are the kids OK?”
“The kids are fine.”
Erin blew out the breath she didn’t realize she was holding. She knew if Emily wanted to have a conversation then this must be a big deal. She should've known if it was about the kids then Dave would’ve been her first call. So what could she be doing there? Oh dear lord, she was probably pregnant.
“Well, I have to say I'm surprised you're here. Have a seat.” Erin waved toward one of the visitor’s chairs as she sat back at her desk.
“I need to talk to you, Erin, woman to woman.” Emily sat down and took a deep breath.
“I need to know everything you know about Sarah Bickle.”
“Sarah Bickle.” Erin said the name quietly.
“Please let’s not beat around the bush. I know that you know who she is and I need to know what you know about her.”
“I don’t know much. Her mother was, may still be, a caseworker at the boys home where Jason lived with Aaron and Spencer. The two of them became fast friends but it was obvious to me that Jason felt something more than friendship for her. When he was emancipated they spent more time together but I don’t think his lifestyle was what Sarah had in mind.”
“What do you mean by his lifestyle?” Emily asked.
“Well, she was always a serious-minded girl but she surely wasn’t ready for an instant family. She was 17 years old, about to head to college; she wanted to have some fun. Jason was too busy for fun. They drifted apart as a lot of people do.”
“Did he love her?” Emily hated asking Erin that. Still, she pushed the bile down in her quest to get the truth. It had been four days since she’d seen them together in Beans. Emily had no idea how she managed not to fall completely apart.
Jason seemed to know approaching her was a bad idea. The apartment had become a place filled with landmines that no one wanted to step on. Everything that wasn’t supposed to happen was now happening. Emily wouldn’t be there at Erin’s office if she wasn’t at her wit’s end.
“What's going on, Emily?”
Erin found herself more concerned than she wanted to be. This actually should've been the ultimate ‘told you so’ moment. She knew if the two teenagers started this romance it would end badly. She imagined Jason would be the devastated party when Emily Prentiss showed her true colors. Yet it was Emily who sat across from her looking lost and rather wretched. It looked as if she hadn't slept in days and her eyes were red-rimmed from tears.
Erin knew nothing about Jason’s love life, surely didn’t know if Sarah Bickle was back on the scene. But if he hurt Emily as much as it seemed, she felt the urge to punch him for teenage girls in love everywhere. She would do it with the utmost love for him. Erin got up, came around her desk, and sat in the chair beside Emily. She was no good at this and they were far from friends. Still, she’d come to that office for a reason.
Emily didn’t know the question would open the floodgates. She covered her face with her hands, as if that would conceal her tears from Erin. It was only a matter of moments before she was sobbing uncontrollably and damning herself for losing it in front of her nemesis. Emily felt an awkward hand on her shoulder but it brought no solace.
“He's sneaking around with her.” Emily mumbled behind her hands and tears. “He’s doing it right under my nose and thinks I'm too dumb to see it.”
“I don’t think Jason is that kind of boy.” Erin replied. “I know you probably think I’d defend him to the end of the Earth but I really believe that.”
“I used to believe it too.” Emily tried to wipe her messy face. It was useless. The tissues Erin handed her helped some. “Thank you. Dammit, look what I've become. I'm a blubbering mess and it’s entirely his fault. I'm sorry I even came here and bothered you. You probably think I deserve this.”
“I absolutely do not.” Erin shook her head. “I've had my heart broken by someone I've trusted before. I know how much it hurts. Are you sure he’s doing what you suspect he is?”
“We followed him to Beans, Erin; we saw him with her.”
“Don’t you think you should at least confront him?”
“I don’t want to hear that. I don’t want to hear that he loves her and not me. He’s a stupid, stupid boy!”
“I think you need to take a couple of deep breaths, Emily.” Erin went over to the mini fridge and brought her a small bottle of water. “Just take some deep breaths and calm down. You know you won't be able to move on without knowing the truth. Let’s not forget the fact that you two also live together, under a very small roof. If you want to keep your family together, this is the time to make the big sacrifice.”
“Yeah, I know.” Emily nodded, sniffed, and drank some water. “It just hurts so much. I don’t think anything has ever hurt this much. I'm sorry.’
“What are you sorry about?” Erin asked.
“Oh my God, I know the last thing you expected was for me to come in here this afternoon and have a total Howard Beale moment. This wasn’t supposed to happen.”
“Its alright.” She put her hand on Emily’s shoulder again. It felt less awkward this time. “You have nothing to apologize for; you're heartbroken. The thing is that you only have a piece of the story. You deserve to know the truth and you deserve it straight from the horse’s mouth.” Erin stood up. “C'mon, I’ll give you a ride home. You're not exactly in the best condition to navigate the trains.”
“I must look a hot mess if you want to do that.” Emily replied.
“I just want to get you home safely. C'mon, Emily.”
She nodded again, wiping her face and standing up too. At this point she would rather be stuck in a dark elevator for hours and forced to make conversation with Erin than confront Jason. Emily was a smart girl though; she knew she couldn’t live like this for much longer. She knew the people she loved couldn’t.
There had been enough upheaval in all of their lives to last a lifetime. She had to be the bigger woman, the better woman. She had to for Penelope, JJ, Spencer, Derek, and Aaron. Even more importantly, she had to do it for herself. It wouldn’t stop the ache but it would end this once and for all.
Jason walked into Beans on a rainy Wednesday evening. Emily left a note at home to meet her there and his stomach dropped when he saw it. He knew something was wrong, had known for six agonizing days. Every time he tried to talk to her it was worse than pulling teeth. There had been no hugs, no kisses; nothing beyond the pleasantries. And those weren't very pleasant as a matter of fact.
The whole apartment seemed more quiet and subdued than usual. Jason didn’t know what to do or who to talk to. He finally pulled Hotch to the side before going out for the evening. His best friend told him that he had no idea what was happening. All he knew was that something was very wrong. Jason promised him that he would get to the bottom of it and fix it. Hotch nodded and then Jason left for the coffee shop.
“Do you want coffee?” Emily asked. “It’s a chilly evening.”
“I'm fine.” Jason lied as he sat across from her. “Emily, what's going on?”
“Its over, Jason.”
“Anything special we might have had. I don’t want to leave because I love my family very much. I've spent these past six days trying to figure out how to do this. Then I thought how empty my life would be without you guys in it and I knew I had to.”
“What are you talking about?” he asked, reaching for her hands. Jason was taken aback when she wouldn’t let him touch her. “What's going on with you?”
“I know all about Sarah Bickle.” She could hardly spit out the girl’s name. “You don’t have to pretend anymore.”
“Pretend? I don’t…”
“Stop it, Jason.” She spoke through clenched teeth. “You’ve insulted me enough and I want you to stop. I saw you here with her more than once. You guys were all cuddled up and whispering. I know she's your first love and now she's back in your life. You’ve been sneaking around with her for weeks.”
“I have not been sneaking around.” Jason shook his head.
“Oh, so you're out in the open with her. So…you're sneaking around with me. A guy can't have two girlfriends.”
“Sarah and I…”
“Do you really think I want to hear this?” Emily asked.
“You need to because you have it all wrong.” He replied.
Emily leaned back in her chair, smirking as she crossed her arms. She didn’t want to hear his excuses. She surely hadn't fooled herself into thinking this would be easy. But if he lied to her, even once, Emily was sure she would belt him. Public decorum be damned; lying was unacceptable.
“Sarah Bickle was my first love. We met at the boys’ home where her mom was one of the case workers. I was smitten with her from the moment we met and we only grew closer in the four years I lived there. When I was emancipated I hoped we could be something special to each other.
“She was almost two years older than me but we always enjoyed each other’s company. After a while though she said that as much as she cared about me, her feelings would never be as strong as mine were. She thought it would be unfair to stick around and give me false hope. I hadn't seen her in two years and I was over her.”
“Was? Well it looks as if she's back and you're picking up where you left off.” Emily’s tone was sarcastic.
“She's a student at American and she saw my freshman orientation packet in the Orientation Office where she works. She thought it would be nice to reunite but I told her that was not a good idea.”
“I told her that it wasn’t a good idea.” Jason repeated.
“Don’t you still have feelings for her?” Emily felt her bravado slipping but she gripped it tight.
“Absolutely not.” He shook his head.
“Why should I believe you? It took you a few weeks to tell her that it wasn’t a good idea? Yeah, right.”
“I don’t want it to be a problem that Sarah and I might be acquaintances on campus together. At the same time, I made it clear to her that I all the responsibilities I had before were still there and I have even more now. I also told her that my heart and soul were no longer available. She knows all about you, Emily.”
“Well that’s nice because I don’t know anything about her. You’ve been running around like 007 for two and a half weeks. What's with the secrecy, Jason?”
“The short answer might be that I'm an idiot.” He replied.
“You're gonna have to do better than that.”
“I didn’t want to hurt you or make you worry but it looks like I did anyway. At first I was seeing her as a friend. It was so good to catch up and know we’d be at the same college come fall. I was trying to figure out how to tell you about her; I didn’t think you would like it. So I kept it to myself.
“And then almost as fast as we were reunited, Sarah said she wanted more. We were older now and she said we were freer. But I don’t…I do not…feel that way about her. You’re the only girl I love. Katya, you are my heart and soul. You know that.”
“I thought you were cheating on me.” Emily said, holding back tears for the billionth time. That was getting really tiresome.
“I would never do that to you. You don’t hurt someone you love that way. I should've told you about Sarah from the beginning but I was afraid. I did love her once, years ago before I knew you. I don’t feel that way anymore and I never will again.”
Emily just nodded, unable to find the words. Jason reached out for her hands and this time she didn’t fight. All she could do was exhale when he laced his fingers through hers. It felt like an eternity since they touched. Emily held on tighter, closing her eyes.
“Don’t let go.” She whispered, nearly unaware that she spoke.
Jason pulled their joined hands to his lips, lovingly brushing across her knuckles. He never wanted to lose Emily. She meant everything to him; all the hard things were easy when she was at his side. And someday he would ask her to spend the rest of her life there. Sarah Bickle was a nice girl but she would never be that.
“I'm so sorry.” He said.
“I'm sorry too.”
“You have nothing to apologize for.”
“I overreacted.” Emily replied. “I should've confronted you as soon as I knew something wasn’t right. Lindsay told me to…she told me to talk to you.”
“I know we’re in public but I need to put my arms around you. I need to do it right now, Katya.”
“Let’s get out of here. The coffee is paid for.”
Hands still joined, the teenagers practically ran out after saying goodnight to Zoë, who was working behind the counter tonight. Out in the rain, under the awning next door at the framing and engraving shop, Jason held her close. He moaned softly as Emily’s body melted into his and she stroked the hair at the nape of his neck.
“My God, I love you.” he said breathlessly.
“I’ll never grow tired of hearing that.”
“What about saying it?”
Emily put some distance between them but remained in his arms. She wished to be that way forever but knew that wasn’t to be. Still she planned to take advantage of every second.
“I love you, Jason Gideon.” Her hands on his face, Emily kissed him passionately.
Normally Jason would discourage such brazen behavior but tonight he didn’t care. Reconnecting was all he cared about. Feeling Emily’s blood coursing through his veins was all that mattered. He kissed her until the need to breathe was greater. Then he took a few breaths and kissed her again.
“I promise that I will always talk to you.” Jason said, resting his forehead on hers. “Honesty is the number one policy.”
“And I promise not to jump to anymore conclusions.” Emily replied. “The past six days have been agonizing.”
“I take full responsibility for that and I will make it up to you. I promise.”
“I guess I should tell you now that Lindsay wanted to kill you.”
“Please let her know that we made up and it was all a misunderstanding. I don’t want to end up sleeping with the fishes. Please tell her.”
“I’ll tell her.” she laughed some. “Oh, and Erin might want to kill you as well.”
“Erin too? Holy moly, this went further than I ever intended.”
“I’ll fix everything that needs to be fixed on my end.”
“I'm going to be fixing things as well. We should probably get home and out of this rain.”
Emily shook her head, pressing herself closer to him. She needed a little while to have him to herself. She needed a moment where all that mattered were their arms around each other. The real world would invade; it always did. After six days in a purgatory limbo, this was all Emily needed to feel right again. It wasn’t very often that a girl could feel so good for being absolutely, positively wrong.