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Between Birth and Death

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From contact comes feeling. From feeling comes reaction. This is what keeps us in the cycle of birth and death. Our reactions to our feelings are our passport to rebirth. - Ayya Khema


Dying was easy, living was hard. Emily found that out the hard way. Almost dying at the hands of Ian Doyle was frightening, but nothing was as frightening as the fact that she might lose the people that she cared for most. She’d spent her entire life running, moving from place to place, never fully settling in, never making friends. And then she joined the BAU and she’d found a little makeshift family of her own. Ian Doyle had taken that away from her for seven months. For seven months she’d been on her own again, and it had made her think. 

What was she leaving behind? Who would miss her? Had she really done her part to make the world better? She’d thought that after she’d come back to Virginia, after her reinstatement at the BAU, that those questions would go away, but they’d only gotten louder until she was unable to sleep or eat. It was irrational, her brain's way of dealing with a traumatic event, but that knowledge did nothing to quiet the questions.

“Prentiss?” Morgan questioned, knocking Emily out of her thoughts. Right, case. Local family annihilator. Two families, parents shot point blank, while the children were smothered.

“I’m sorry, what did you say?” She asked.

“Hotch wants you and I to check out the second crime scene.” Morgan repeated, taking his eyes off the road for a quick second to give his partner a once-over. “You okay?”

Emily nodded, “Yeah I'm okay. My caffeine-free diet and this job don’t mix well.” She tried to joke, gaining a disbelieving look from Morgan. “I’m fine. Seriously.”

“Alright, alright.” Derek conceded, “Just had to be sure. The last time you got all quiet and mysterious, you almost died.”

Emily visibly blanched. She knew Morgan didn’t mean anything by it, but the whole situation with Doyle had been traumatic to her too. Sometimes the team seemed to forget that. Emily cleared her throat, “So the second family, the Dormicks. Was Garcia able to find anything to connect them to the Addams?” She asked, effectively turning his attention to the case.

The rest of the ride to the crime scene was silent, except for bits and pieces about the case. Emily was grateful for this, the last thing she needed was Morgan looking over his shoulder to make sure she was alright. She was alright, she just needed to get back to who she was before Doyle.

Chapter Text

The second crime scene was identical to the first. Both parents were tied up, beaten, before being shot close-range, the children were all tied to their beds before being suffocated with a pillow.. The team had been investigating for two days already, and if their prediction was correct, another family would be killed tonight. The team had exhausted all of their options, they’d released the profile to the locals and advised all families to be vigilant. The unsub most likely charmed his way in because there was no sign of force entry.

“Hey, Em. I got you a herbal tea, Garcia mentioned you were off caffeine.”

“Thanks, Reid. I appreciate it. Any luck with the geographic profile?” Emily asked, taking the cup from Reid. 

“Sort of. Both of the families lived in suburban neighborhoods, but they were miles apart. What is interesting though, is the fact that both families had high-tech security systems. More advanced than the standard alarm systems.” 

“Did they use the same security provider?”

“No, but we have Garcia looking into both companies. We think that may be how the unsub got in.” Reid explained, taking a seat across from Emily.

Emily took a sip of her tea, cocking her head to the side, “Good. Maybe we’ll get lucky before another family is killed.” 

“Maybe.” Reid replied softly, “I, um, know i’m not so good with social cues, but I know body language and ever since we took this case, your body language has been projecting that you’re distracted or worried about something. If you are worried about something, just know that I'm here for you.” 

Emily sighed. Damn. The last thing she wanted was for the team to be concerned about her, especially Reid. The kid already had so much on his plate, between adjusting to her being back, forgiving JJ, and dealing with his addiction. On the other hand, maybe she should confide in him. Besides Penelope, he was the only one on the team who’d experienced death. 

“I’m fine. It’s just,” She paused, unsure how to phrase her question, “After Hankel, did you ever wonder what you’d be leaving behind? What would your legacy be?”

“Actually? Yes. After Hankel I started thinking about what I'd done with my life so far, and what I'd expected to have achieved.”

“And the conclusion?” Emily inquired.

“I thought that i’d have cured schizophrenia, or cancer by now, but I haven’t. That doesn’t mean I never will, and that’s what I had to focus on. That’s what I choose to focus on.” He explained.

Emily nodded, that was exactly what she needed to hear. “Thanks Spence.” 

Reid’s face twisted in confusion, “For what?”

“For being you, for always being there for me when I need you most.”

“That’s what family is for Emily, we’re always there for each other.”

Chapter Text

“Okay, so both of the families used completely different security companies, but they both recently had repairs and upgrades made to their systems.” Garcia explained.

Morgan leaned over the intercom, “Let me guess? They used the same repair company?”

“Brawns and brains, you are magnificent, hotstuff. The same guy repaired both of their systems, his name is Arturo Andrews, he’s thirty-two, a freelancer, and he definitely fits the profile. His father died in the military when he was eight, his mother then had a psychotic break. She started homeschooling Arturo and his brother Manny, she never let them go outside, and she kept them on a strict diet. Both kids ran away a dozen times, until CPS got involved when Arturo was twelve and Manny was eight. Once CPS got involved, Arturo’s mother convinced him that if he didn’t kill himself and Manny then they'd be raped, beaten, and killed in foster care. Arturo went through with killing Manny, but the gun jammed when he turned it on himself.”

“To be faced with the choice of killing your younger brother or watching him suffer extensive abuse, would’ve left Arturo with a lot of trauma and guilt.” Rossi interjected.

“Maybe or maybe he thinks he saved Manny, that could be the reason he shows so much rage towards the parents. Garcia, where is Arturo’s mother?” Hotch asked.

“She died in a mental institution three weeks ago.”

“That was his stressor, Garcia, we need you to send us Arturo’s coordinates. He probably has his next family.” Hotch replied.

“Consider it done.”

“Thank you, Garcia.”

“Thanks, babygirl.”

“No thanks needed! Stay safe my crime fighters.”

“Should we wait for backup?” Emily asked, exiting the SUV. 

“No, they’ll be here soon. We don’t know if they’re even still alive.” Morgan replied, right behind Emily. When they reached the door it was cracked, Morgan motioned for Emily to be quiet as they entered the house. Immediately upon entering the house they could smell iron in the air. Blood. They didn’t have to go far to find the mangled bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Demaro. Morgan pressed two fingers to Mr. Demaro, checking for his pulse, while Emily checked the wife. They were gone. 

“No pulse.” Emily whispered, slightly lowering her gun.

“Yeah, but they’re still warm, he could still be here. Let’s check out the rest of the house.” Morgan replied, making his way up the stairs, as quietly as he could. Emily was right behind him, as they made their way to the room that had light leaking from under the door. 

“FBI! Step away from the baby!” Morgan shouted as he threw open the nursery door. 

The unsub had been leaning over the crib, a pillow in hand, but Emily and Morgan could tell that the baby hadn’t been hurt by the screams he emitted. The unsub dropped the pillow, revealing a gun pointed right at the baby. “Go away! I have to save him! This is the only way I can save him!”

Emily stepped forward, lowering her gun. “I’m not going to be able to do that Arturo, you know I can’t let you hurt that baby.”

“I have to save him! I have to save him or they’ll hurt him!”

“Who’s going to hurt him? CPS? Like they were going to hurt Manny?” Emily asked, gently.

The unsub moved closer to the crib, cocking his gun. “Don’t! Don’t talk about Manny, I saved him! I did that.”

“Prentiss…” Morgan warned carefully.

“I got this.” Emily replied, cautiously moving towards the unsub, “Arturo, I know you saved Manny. You saved him from your mother and you saved him from the bad people in foster care. You were a good brother.”

“That’s why I have to save him, I have to!”

“You already saved him. You saved him from his parents, we know they weren’t good people.” Emily replied, hearing hushed whispers, signaling the rest of the team had arrived.

“No! They weren’t! I used their cameras to check in on them! They used to let him cry, all night long. They didn’t love him, they didn’t care about him.” The unsub rambled.

“But now they’re gone! You already saved him, now you need to put the gun down. Come on, you don’t really want to hurt him that way do you?”

“It’s the only way! The only way he’ll be safe. The bad people in foster care will take him and-and hurt him.”

“That’s not true Arturo, he has an aunt in Delaware. She agreed to take him! She’s on her way here right now. She's a good person, I made sure.” Emily lied.

“You’re lying!”

“And why would I do that? Hm, I want the same thing you do, but the only way we can keep this little boy safe is if you put down the gun.” Emily said, gently pushing the gun down, before taking it away from the unsub, and pushing him against the window, putting the handcuffs on him.

Emily passed the unsub to Morgan before immediately picking up and examining the squealing baby. “Shhh, it’s alright. You’re okay, you’re okay.” Emily said, cradling the crying child into her chest. 

“What’s on your mind, Prentiss?” Morgan asked.

“I’m just thinking about Archie Demaro. That little boy is two months old, and he’s already alone in this world.” Emily explained, blinking back tears. “He has no family, they couldn’t even get him into a group home tonight, he has to stay in the hospital until the morning.”

“It’s tough, but the most important thing is that he’s alive and safe.”

“Is it though? Is that enough?” Emily asked, looking out the SUV window, watching the world pass her by in a blur. Before Doyle, knowing that she saved at least one life had been enough, but now she didn’t think it was.

“It’s the job, Prentiss. It’s the job…”

Chapter Text

The next two weeks passed by like a dream for Emily. There was another case, but there was always another case. There was always another sicko, and there was always another innocent person, whose life would be lost to someone’s sick perversion. The world didn’t change, but Emily had. She couldn’t explain it, she couldn’t put it into words if she even wanted to, but after the family annihilator case, something was different for her. Every second that she didn’t have to be at work or on a case, she visited Archie’s group home. She didn’t even know why she felt the need to visit him, morally she knew she wasn’t responsible for the child, but she couldn’t stand the idea that he had no one in the world who truly cared about him.

“Sorry i’m late! I had a coffee incident this morning.” Emily lied, rushing to take a seat at the round table. In reality, Archie had been gassy and had spit up on her shirt. “What did I miss?” 

“Garcia just finished presenting the case. It’s a bad one so we need to hit the ground running, we’ll fill you in on the jet. Wheels up in twenty.” Hotch replied, dismissing the team. “Prentiss, can I speak with you for a second?” He asked after everyone else had trailed out of the room.

“Look, Hotch, I'm sorry I was late today, it won’t happen again.”

“I’m not too concerned about you being late. I’m more concerned with why you were late and why you decided to hide it. I know you’ve been visiting the baby from the Andrew's case. Why?” Hotch asked quizzically.

Emily sighed, “First of all, his name is Archie. Second, what I do off of company time is none of your business.

“You see, I disagree. What you do in your personal life has an affect on this team. I need to be sure that you can do this job impartially.”

“Hotch, are you seriously questioning my judgement?” Emily asked, irritated. She’d never given him a reason to question her judgement.

“After Elle Greenaway was shot, I didn’t want to seem as if I was coddling her. I wanted to give her space and time to deal with her trauma on her own. That was a mistake, a mistake that cost this team dearly. I don’t want to make the same mistake with you.”

“I’m not Greenaway!” Emily exclaimed. What was with people comparing her to other women. She wasn’t her mother, she wasn’t Elle Greenaway. She was Emily Prentiss. “Hotch, I promise you, i’m dealing with it okay? I visit Archie because the kid has no one, and I know what that feels like.” She admitted.

Hotch cast his eyes downward for a split second, before nodding. “Okay, but if you feel yourself not being able to deal with it, let me know, please. This team almost lost you once, we can’t go through losing you again.”

Emily nodded, “You have my word, sir.”

“Hey Cassie, how is everything going? Is Archie feeling better?” Emily whispered, in the kitchen area of the jet. So far only Hotch knew she visited Archie, she wanted to keep it that way.” 

“He’s fine, like I said earlier, he was just a little gassy.” Cassie, the group home runner, said. 

“I know, I know. I just know he had a cold last week, and I wanted to be sure that he was okay.” Emily replied, glancing towards the rest of the jet. “Has his social worker made any progress locating his relatives?”

“Unfortunately, no. Both of his parents were only children, his paternal grandmother is too sick to take him, and his other grandparents are dead. His social worker is looking into foster homes to place him in, but no one either has the means or the wants to take in a newborn.”

“Damn. It’s been two weeks, I'm starting to think he might never find a home.” Emily replied nervously picking at her fingernails. Her therapist would probably have a cow, but she was stressed.

“Actually, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about. How would you feel about taking him in? Even if it’s just temporary.”

Emily froze. She hadn’t expected that. She couldn’t take care of a child, let alone a baby. Hell, she couldn’t even take care of herself. “Cassie, i’m honored, seriously, but I don’t think i’m qualified to take care of Archie. I mean I work long hours, I'm single, and I’m not even a registered foster mom.”

“Emily, you work for the FBI, you have the funds, you have your mother, who is a diplomat, and you rescued Archie. You’re the only person who has consistently checked in on him. Everyday that you don’t work, you’re here with him, and even when you’re working you call to check in.” Cassie paused for a few seconds to see if Emily would respond, “Plus, the way you described your team let’s me know that you have a strong support system backing you. I know this might seem like a big ask, but could you atleast think about it?”

“I’ll give it some thought, but I, um, have to go, we’re landing.” Emily lied, quickly hanging up the phone.

Chapter Text

The case was solved sooner than Emily really wanted. Cassie had given her a week to decide if she wanted to apply to be Archie’s temporary foster-mother. The answer should’ve been simple, no. She had long hours and no support system, not to mention the fact that she was still dealing with the whole Doyle situation. She was in no position to take care of a child, even if it was only temporary. Or was she?

“What’s on your mind, Emily?” Her therapist asked.

“Hm? Oh, nothing.” Emily waved her hand dismissively. 

“Come on, you may be a profiler, but i’m a psychiatrist. It’s my job to know when people are lying to me. What’s up with you? Is it about a case?”

Emily lolled her head forward with a groan, “Kind of, but not really.” She really didn’t want to get into the whole Archie situation with her therapist, but her therapist wouldn’t let go that easily. “You know that case I had a while back, the unsub that killed two families?”

Her therapist nodded, “You were able to stop that man from killing a little baby boy.” 

Emily nodded wistfully, her therapist, Dr. Berkins, had made it her mission to remind her that she was a hero at all times, much to Emily’s annoyance. “Yeah...well we weren't able to save his parents, and child protective services have been having a tough time to find a family for him, so he’s been staying in a group home.”

“You’ve been checking in on him.”  Dr. Berkins stated accusingly.

“Why do you say that like it’s a bad thing? I thought you wanted me to make connections?” 

“I do.” She agreed, before giving Emily a pointed glare, “Healthy ones. I just want to be sure you’re not holding on to past demons.”

“I’m not. Do I feel guilty that I couldn’t save his parents? Yep, but I feel guilty for every victim I can’t save.”

“But you don’t keep in contact with the families of every victim who’s case you’ve worked, what’s so different about this one?” Berkins countered.

“He’s a two month old little boy who is totally alone.”

“And you know what that feels like.” Emily’s therapist finished. 

Emily nodded. Those seven months had felt like hell. Sure, she’d been able to play scrabble with JJ, but she’d grown so accustomed to Reid’s facts, Hotch’s frown, Garcia’s infectious laughter, and Rossi’s snark. “Yeah, I do know what that feels like.”

Dr. Berkins leaned forward in her chair, her face growing serious, “Emily, you are not alone. I know it may not have always seemed like it, but you’ve never been alone. You have your mother and your team, you are not alone.”

“I know, I know. It’s just sometimes I find myself back into that warehouse with Doyle and I-” Emily’s voice cracked, as she choked back tears. She didn’t want to cry about Doyle, she’d done enough of that. She took a few seconds to pull herself together.  “I just don’t want Archie to ever feel like I did.”

“His name is Archie? Is there more to the story that you haven’t told me?” Dr. Berkins asked softly. She knew better to dwell on the subject of Ian Doyle. If she pushed too hard Emily would shut down. 



“Fine. I’ve been spending sometime with him, just see how he’s doing.” Emily conceded. “Now can we move on?”

“I would’ve said yes if you hadn’t just gotten defensive, and you only get defensive when someone stumbles upon something you don’t want them to know. What are you hiding Emily Prentiss?” 

“You’re not going to move on until I tell you, are you?”

“No I am not.”

Emily groaned, “It’s nothing really. The owner of the group home where Archie has been staying, Cassie, suggested that I apply to become his temporary foster mother.”

Dr. Berkins was speechless, she had come to expect the unexpected with Emily Prentiss, but this was completely out there. “Wow. That’s definitely not nothing. When did she ask? What did you say? Do you even want kids?”

“This is why I didn’t mention it before. You want to analyze everything.”

“That’s my job, and yours too by the way. Also you’re deflecting, answer my questions. All of them.”

“She asked me four days ago, I didn’t give her an answer, and honestly? I don’t think I do.” Emily answered.

“You don’t think so or you know you don’t want kids?” Dr. Berkin inquired.

“Aren’t they the same thing?”

“No. People either know they want kids, know they don’t want kids, or they’re unsure. And by the fact that you didn’t give Cassie an answer, means that you either want kids or you don’t know. Which is it?”

“You know you’re kind of annoying.” Emily quipped.

“I get that a lot. Stop deflecting.” 

“I don’t know. On some level I want kids, but with my job and lack of love life, I just don’t see it happening, which is why I'm going to tell Cassie no.”

Dr. Berkins nodded, “That’s completely rational and a load of crap. You’ve obviously thought about having children and you came up with all of those reasons why it was a bad idea, yet you didn’t tell Cassie no. You want to say yes, but you don’t think you should and you want me to affirm that thought.”

“You know, you should become a profiler. One hour with you and the suspect will admit to kidnapping the Lambert kid.” 

“The FBI couldn’t afford me if they wanted to.” Berkins joked, “Emily I think you should say yes. You are both mentally and physically capable of caring for a child, there’s no reason you shouldn’t at least consider it.”

Chapter Text

“You could’ve told me he was napping, I would’ve stopped by later.”  Emily stated, taking Archie into her arms. “Hi there little guy, Cassie here tells me you’ve been a little cranky?” she mumbled, grinning when raven haired little boy babbled back at her. 

“Ever since you left for work he’s been fussy. I think he missed your presence.” 

“Is that right? Hm, did you miss me?” Emily cooed, before turning her attention to Cassie, “I’m sorry I didn’t stop by yesterday, I had some things I needed to do.”

Cassie waived her hand dismissively, “You don’t have to explain anything to me, but I was worried when you didn’t show up yesterday or call. I thought I'd scared you away by asking you to be Archie’s foster mom.”

“Are you kidding? Nothing could scare me away from this little guy.”  Emily joked.

“I’m glad to hear that.” Cassie replied with a grin, “But I still crossed a line and I should have never put you in that position, so i’m sorry.”

“Hey, don’t be sorry. You want to find him a home. Besides, I'd be lying if I said I hadn’t been thinking about it.” Emily admitted.


Emily nodded, “Yeah, but how would I even go about doing this?”

A grin broke out on Cassie’s face, “Well normally you’d have to go through the process of getting certified, but considering Archie’s situation I think his social worker could get a judge to sign off on an emergency placement order, if we can show that it’s in the best interest of the child.”

“And how do we show that?”

“You’ll have to go through a standard background check, a home evaluation, and you’ll have to have a reference from your employer, friends, and family.” Cassie explained. 

“And how long would that take?”

“At the minimum? At least two weeks.” Cassie took a minute to let that information sink in, “So does this mean you’ll take him in?”

Emily took in a deep breath, this was a huge decision, but she’d given it immense thought. Archie deserved a good home, and she deserved something to come home to. She took a glance down at the baby in her arms, “Hm, I think we should leave that up to Archie. What do you think, Archie, do you want to come stay with me? Hm?” Emily cooed, playfully tickling the young boy. 

“I think he likes that idea.”