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The bird that flies

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Chapter 1: Caged

"What can I do for you?"

"Well, I guess you could tell me where to put my stuff"

"I'm sorry?"

"I'm supposed to start here today at the BAU"

"There's been a mistake… I didn't approve this transfer, Agent Prentiss. I'm sorry for the confusion but you've been misinformed"


Gideon stared at the brunette standing in the door to Hotch's office wondering what was so familiar about her. Blinking and shaking his head he turned away and headed for the conference room, he'd worry about it later.


February 2nd 1987

Sometime in between getting on the bus and getting off two blocks from the library a bitterly cold wind had whipped up and cut through her winter coat freezing her to the bone.

Reaching the doors she shrugged the coat off and stood in the warmth for a few moments letting it remove the worst of the chill from her body before she headed for the reference section to work on her essay for English literature.

It wasn't long before she was lost in the world of words…

When she finally crawled out of the pall Maya Angelou drew over her it was dark. With a sigh she packs away her books and heads for the door.

The wind is worse so she tucks her head down and walks the two blocks back to her bus stop still trying to work out if she is a free bird or a caged bird…

She doesn't hear the footsteps in the snow behind her, she doesn't see the shadow cross her path…

She doesn't make it to the bus stop.

It would be years before Emily Prentiss once again walked free.

A free bird leaps

on the back of the wind

and floats downstream

till the current ends

and dips his wing

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.


2006

It was the eyes Gideon couldn't stop thinking about. There was a steel and agedness he'd seen before… so many times on so many strangers but these were familiar.

They'd briefed the case, two competing killers… in St Louis.

"What was her name?" he finally asked Hotch halfway through the flight.

"The agent…? Prentiss… Emily Prentiss"

He knew that name as well.


February 1987

The room she woke in was warm and dark. When they finally get her talking about her time in captivity she could never explain how she knew she wasn't alone when she woke.

"I could feel something" is the only thing she can say.

Blinking once… twice… three times against the fuzziness she finally manages to lift her head. She can't see him yet but she knows… she knows he's there watching her.

Looking down she is lying on a soft bed covered in a woollen blanket. Her jacket, sweater and shoes have been removed.

Her hands and legs are free so she pushes herself upright slightly to try and get a better look around, she doesn't get a chance before he is there… sitting on the bed beside her.

She is surprised when his touch is gentle and his voice is soft.

"You're perfect…"

She tries not to flinch away at his undisguised lust. He must have a measure of self control because he only presses a gentle kiss to her lips before he leaves the room.

She doesn't yell, scream, fight or try to follow him. Survival protocol ingrained in her as the child of a diplomat, don't fight or argue with them, don't try to bargain, or barter for your freedom. Hold tight, do what you have to do to stay alive and wait for rescue.

The door closes silently and she doesn't hear the bolts sliding home.

Looking around the room she can see high windows letting in dull winter moonlight, a small kitchenette with an oven, fridge and sink sits to one side. Standing on wobbly legs she makes her way over to a door, opening it reveals a shower and toilet. The taps have both hot and cold water, the fridge is stocked with fresh groceries. Dragging the lone chair over to the wall she can just reach the window when she stands on it, tapping lightly she discovers the glass is bullet proof.

She remembers a marine explaining how laminated glass didn't just stop bullets but sound as well, something about vibrations.

Pulling a glass out of the cabinet she fills it up from the tap, drinks it and two more before going back to the bed and lying down.

It doesn't take long for a tear to make its way down her face… it is quickly joined by another and another.

"I want my mom…" Emily Prentiss whispers to an empty room.


November 2006

He finally remembers as he's walking down the stairs and as his feet hit the tarmac he pulls out his cellphone and dials Garcia.

"I need you to dig up an old case file for me…"

"Of course Sir." the technical analyst chirps

"90 or 91 lead agent was David Rossi, the UnSub took teenage girls from DC, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia about 10 years, all 16, caucasian brunettes. I don't remember his name but he was caught attempting to grab a girl in Wilmington."

"90 and 91 is on the system, so give me a mo… Damien Lucas Knight…?"

"That's him, just send it to me… it's not related to the case."


1987

She thinks it's been weeks… it's hard to tell. He turns up regularly but with no set schedule, sometimes it's day sometimes it's night and sometimes she's been in the dark for so long she forgets the colour of the sky.

With nothing to do and no way to truly keep track of time she quickly starts to look forward to his visits.

He has control of every aspect of her existence, food, water, heat, light, clothes…

The first few times he visited he didn't actually speak to her, she would wake to find him watching. The one day he brought the complete works of Shakespeare and reads the sonnets out loud to her before kissing her again.

From fairest creatures we desire increase,

That thereby beauty's rose might never die,

The kisses become more insistent with each visit, she never reciprocates nor does she fight him. The day he finishes the 15th sonnet his hand reaches out to her waist and rests there for a moment before sliding up her ribcage to rest on her breast.

This time she pulls back and shakes her head. Despite his pretty words and gentleness she knows she is his prisoner and she doesn't want to give him this. She gave it away too easily and freely before and she won't do that again.

"No"

She knows she's made a mistake when a flash of rage comes across his face as he pushes her back roughly before storming out of the room.

The windows are covered, the lights turned out and the heat turned off.

She huddles under the blanket and manages to stave off the worst of the shivers. With nothing else to do in the dark she drifts off to sleep.

When she wakes up the room is warm again, the lights are back on and she's not alone in the bed.

He is lying next to her, naked and aroused.

It takes her another moment to realise he's managed to remove her clothes without waking her up.

She's on her back naked and exposed… he's on his side, erection pressed against her thigh, hand playing with her breast. When she lifts her hands to try and push him away he smirks at her horror upon realising they're cuffed together. It doesn't stop her from trying to get away but he is bigger and stronger than she is and it only takes him a moment to move her shackled hands and attach the chain to a hook on the head board.

She squirms and bucks to try and push him away, his grin is feral as he straddles her thighs.

The kind, gentle act is all gone and his true nature shines through as his hands roughly grab her breasts, fingers pinching and twisting, his hard cock leaking pre-cum on her belly. Leaning down he takes a nipple in his mouth biting and sucking, her face burns in humiliation as she feels the beginning of arousal between her own legs. When he releases it his hand comes back up and he pinches it hard sending a shooting pain through her chest causing a sob to bubble out of her mouth.

"Everything in this room is mine" he whispers "you are mine, your body is here for my pleasure. I will take you when I want you how I want you"

"No" she shakes her head at him.

"You will call me Sir and you will obey me without question." he states ignoring her refusal, some girls accepted this fact faster than others.

"No"

"If you do not you will be punished"

Sir shuffles down to kneel between her legs, she squirms again and tries to close her thighs. Her first lesson in punishment is a hand slapping down hard on her left breast forcing her to squeal at the sudden stinging pain. One large hand holds a thigh while the other starts to probe and touch her labia feeling the slight wetness his earlier touching had brought.

He slides finger up and down a few times before pushing a single digit inside her, she is tight and hot but not as wet as he wants. Leaning down he spits on her clit before rubbing lightly to try and bring more lubrication from her body. Her body quickly responds to the stimulation so when his finger is once again inside her he grins at the wetness. The first finger is joined by a second causing her to whimper at the invasion, but he is slow and methodical letting her body get used to the digits before adding a third. After a few quick strokes he either decides she's prepared enough or is too aroused to care and pulls his hand out and finally looks back up at her face grinning at the tears streaming down her flushed cheeks. He wipes his hand down her chest leaving a glistening trail. Without another word he lines himself up and pushes inside.

He doesn't give her time to adjust before he is pulling out and thrusting back in as hard as he can.

Even her first time wasn't as painful of this, despite the preparation her body wasn't ready for him.

"Stop… it hurts… please…" she sobs.

He ignores her and continues until he cums inside her with a groan. Without another word he pulls out and rolls off her walking out of the room.

She is left naked, hurting, tied to the bed under too bright lights.

She hears the door close then the lights flicker off and the air starts to cool.

He's turned off the heat again.

She quickly starts to shiver, there isn't even a blanket left on the bed she can try to cover herself with.

Sir doesn't leave her like this for long but her entire body is trembling violently when the lights flicker back on forcing her to squeeze her eyes shut against the brightness. Not long later warmth starts to penetrate the air, he doesn't come back straight away. The shivering has subsided when the door opens and he comes back in, naked and partially aroused.

He has a bag in hand and climbs onto the bed straddling her belly, he takes a moment to play with her breasts before reaching into the bag and pulling out a silk scarf and using it to cover her eyes.

"You did not obey, you told me to stop. Remember your body is mine to do with as I please, when I please and how I please. I'll go easy on the punishment this time."

Rising on his knees he rolled her body so she's on her stomach. Reaching into the bag he pulled out two soft leather wrist cuffs quickly locking them in place with padlocks and then he pulled out two lengths of rope.

Feeding the rope under her, he released one hand from the metal cuffs and brought it down so her forearm was resting on her back, arms having gone numb long before she couldn't fight him. Tying one end of rope to the cuff he repeated the action on the other before feeding the ends around her body again and tying them off ensuring her arms were completely immobilised.

"The next time I leave the room I will be turning off the heat again. How long it's off is up to you, every time you disobey me or tell me to stop is five minutes without heat. Do you understand?"

She didn't respond, just lay there trying to comprehend what was happening to her.

At her silence he stands and bring a hand down hard on her backside.

"That's 5 minutes… do you understand?"

She swallows past the pain and nods her head "Yes"

He bring his hand down again.

"10 minutes, yes what?"

It takes her moment to work out what he wants to hear.

"Yes Sir."

"Good girl" his hand rubs over her backside and dips between her legs to find her centre. He rubs his fingers along her before pulling back and pulling her up into a sitting position.

He steps back and just watches her for a moment. Lips slightly parted, body trembling in fear and pain the black rope stark against her pale skin.

He'd been searching for years for perfection, all the girls before her and none of them quite measured up to fantasy. They'd screamed and fought him from the very first moment, but she hadn't… she'd wanted to… he could see the fight in her eyes but something had stopped her. He wondered how long this one would survive.

"I shall call you Alla, for you are my other"

He watched her body shake at his declaration.

Grasping her shoulders he pulled her into a standing position and lead her to the bathroom. Confusion crossed her face as he pushed her down onto the toilet.

"I don't want you urinating on anything, go now." he instructed.

The flush of embarrassment started low on her chest and made it's way up to her face. He grinned as she fought with herself on whether to go or not but after several seconds her body relaxed and the sound of urine hitting water echoed through. When it stopped he pulled off a few sheets of toilet paper and wiped her down, after quickly washing his hands he stood her in the middle of the play room while he prepared for the next task.

This was one of his favourite parts.

Seating her in the chair he tied her legs into the stirrups and spread them apart. Seeing her exposed and helpless brought a smile to his face, he wondered if anyone had ever stuck their tongue inside her before and couldn't wait to see her reaction to that.

She jumped and squeaked in fright when he turned on the clippers. Ever so slowly he clipped away at her pubic hair until there was only a light smattering along her labia left. Replacing the electric clippers with the razor he just as carefully removed that hair as well. Leaning back he looked at his work and smiled at the arousal he could see and smell just from his touch, releasing one leg from the stirrups he shaved it and repeated with the other.

"That's much better… remember your body is mine to do with as I please, when I please and how I please." looking up he noticed for the first time her bottom lip trembling and the silk covering her eyes had darkened in patches with her tears. As with the other girls he snapped a photo of her for his journal.

He slaps her now wet and hairless pussy hard enough to sting. Untying her he lead her back to the bedroom and pushed her face onto the bed. Lifting her by the hips he nudged her knees apart and pushed into her. Reaching down he quickly rubbed her clit just enough to keep her wet before bringing his hands back to her hips and digging his fingers in to hold her steady while he fucked her hard and fast. This time she didn't try to get away or beg him to stop but her pained sobs told him she wanted to. He likes hearing them cry.

His breath quickened as he felt his balls tighten and he came inside her hard.

Pushing her away he left her crying on the bed before leaving the room and turning off the heat as he closed the door behind him.

He quickly showered and redressed, turned her heat back on and left the house leaving 16 year old Emily Prentiss tied up and naked in his basement.

He took his time doing the groceries, met a friend for a drink and returned to the house four hours later.

When he entered the basement room she was sound asleep, injecting her with a light sedative, he removes the ropes and blindfold but leaves the cuffs in place. He masturbates until he shoots cum on her face.

He gathered up all items of clothing, blankets and towels, stocked up the fridge and left the room bolting the door behind him. The panel outside the room let him block out the windows and turn on a single dull lamp, when she woke she would have no idea how much time had passed, nor would she be able to track any time while he was gone.

Over the next week he didn't go back into the room while she was awake, he would enter quietly and sedate her and leave her to wake up hours later still alone but with cum drying on her body.

When he decided she was ready he entered to find her curled up in a ball on the bed. She didn't react to his presence… just lay there staring at the wall.

"When I enter the room I expect you to kneel in the centre with your eyes on the floor."

She slowly pushed herself off the bed and silently knelt at his feet.

He had the next 3 days off work and was looking forward to spending time with her.

"Good girl" he ran his hands over the top of her head.

"Stand" she didn't hesitate to follow his command.

He raked his eyes over her body and noted the stubble of hair that had grown back. Pulling the red silk scarf out he wrapped it tightly around her eyes and led her into the play room. She doesn't fight him…

He started with her underarms, gently shaving them before restraining her like he had the last time forearms to back, legs in stirrups.

He didn't need the electric clippers this time just the hand razor and once he was done he pushed two fingers into her smiling at the wetness he found there.

Releasing her from the chair he led her back to the bed room and pushed her back down onto her knees while he stripped down. Once he was naked he stood so the tip of his penis was brushing against her lips.

"I want you to suck me until I tell you to stop. If I cum in your mouth you do not spit it out, you do not swallow, you wait until I give you an instruction. Do you understand?"

"Yes Sir." her voice was hoarse from disuse but she obeyed immediately and took him in her mouth. She was hesitant at first, unsure of exactly what to do but followed his lead growing more confident as he responded positively. The moment he sensed her getting comfortable with the action he grabbed her hair and thrust hard hitting the back of her throat causing her gag reflex to kick in. He repeated it twice more, the third time she'd managed to relax her throat enough to take it without gagging.

"Good girl and remember your body is mine to do with as I please, when I please and how I please."

He pushed her down onto the floor and was inside her before she could take a breath, when he came he pulled out and came all over her belly and breasts.

He left her there on the floor tied up covered in sweat and semen, walking out of the basement he showered and went to bed.

The next morning he walked into the room and watch her struggle upright to kneel. He took her to the bathroom once again forcing her again to relieve herself in front of him and relying on him to wipe her.

He couldn't wait to see her hanging from the ceiling by the wrists, blindfolded and gagged as he flogged her.

This time he sat up on the bed and made her straddle his lap so she could feel him get aroused as he played with her body.

He started by kissing her lips, pushing his tongue inside her mouth as his hands came up to play with her nipples.

He worked his mouth down her neck biting, sucking and licking her… marking her pale skin. Pulling back slightly he rolled a nipple between his fingers pinching it hard enough to elicit a pained gasp from her before taking it in his mouth and sucking hard. Once he released it he blew softly before pinching hard again, he did the same thing on the other side and by the time he was done the tip of his penis was pushing at her entry.

He was training her body to respond to pleasure and pain the same way. He was training her mind to submit to him and crave his presence.

He didn't need his fingers to know her body was ready enough for him he could feel her cum mixing with his. Dropping his hands to her hips he pulled her down onto him and held her in place. He watched her face for a moment and nearly laughed as she sucked her lower lip between her teeth and bit down against the invasion that still hurt but wasn't quite as painful as it had been.

"Tell me something Alla… have you ever orgasmed?"

She tilted her head to the side slightly as she considered his question. Lips parted as she breathes heavily through the pain.

"I don't know Sir… I don't think I have."

He pushed her hips up and pulled them back down slowly, making sure she is fully seated on him.

Running his hands up her side he cupped her breasts "Who's breasts are these?"

She hesitates only a heartbeat before answering "Yours sir." her bottom lip is trembling.

He tweaks her nipples slightly before grabbing her hips and forcing her up and down again.

"Is this body mine to do whatever I want with"

"Yes Sir" her tears finally spill over soaking the silk and leaking out the bottom of the blindfold… he knows he's broken her.

"It seems I've done all the work so far… I want to lie here and enjoy you fucking me slowly."

This would become one his favourite positions with her. Bound, blindfolded, forced to ride him slowly.

"Yes Sir."

Her movements are jerky at first as she has nothing to balance herself against until she works out how to use her thighs and hips and hits a slow and steady rhythm.

She rides him until he cums.

This time he doesn't pull out of her straight away. His hands hold her in place.

"Would you like to orgasm?" she senses immediately that this is a trick question. He has been reinforcing for weeks that she has no choices, no control, to ask if she wants something now goes against everything else he has done.

"Only if Sir wants me to" she play's it safe, and gives the decision back to him.

"Maybe one day you'll earn one as a reward" he muses as he imagines her strung up to a St Andrew's cross orgasming so hard she squirts. Or maybe when he breed's her, wait until her breasts are full of milk and make her cum so her she leaks all over herself.

None of the previous girls ever answered that question correctly.

For now he reaches around her and undoes the rope, she stays where she is waiting for permission or direction. She's learned fast, what Sir will never know is for years she had been left searching for companionship and attention. He was reaping the benefits of a father who only turned up when he needed something and a mother who loved her but was constantly being pulled away by duty, too few friends and no stability, she had submitted to him so quickly because he returned to her, he paid attention to her. She was starting to believe Sir cared for her simply because he came back.

He pulls her down to rest against his chest and is surprised when she relaxes against him with a happy sigh at the gentle human contact.

When he enters her room two weeks later she is kneeling waiting for him, there is something different about her. She's hunched over hiding her face behind her hair trembling slightly, the modesty he'd trained out of her back. Placing the groceries on the bench he studies her trying to work out what is wrong when he spies a light pink patch on the bedsheet. Pulling her into a standing position he watches the juncture of her thighs and waits, it doesn't take more than a minute for blood to start trickling down her legs. He'd taken away her clothes and sanitary products three weeks before and had been waiting for this.

He'd purposefully forced her to urinate and defecate in front of him multiple times. Three days earlier she'd claimed she didn't need to urinate so he tied her up in the play room and taught her to urinate when instructed to.

Ignoring the blood he sits down on the chair and orders her to give him a blow job. After he comes in her mouth he leaves her kneeling for a few minutes, blood dripping out of her and down onto the floor, mouth full of semen. She holds it waiting for his instruction. Eventually he tells her to swallow.

Once her period finishes he uses nipple clamps for the first time.

He moves on to orgasm denial, using his fingers to get her more and more aroused but never letting her cum. He still hasn't decided how she's going to experience her first orgasm but there are a few other firsts he wants to give her before getting to that.

She screams in pain the first time he douches her, but doesn't ask him to stop. Once she's learned to cope with this new level of pain and no longer screams he moves on, she takes the anal plug with barely a whimper.

He starts to bring her books to read along with a journal, rewards for obeying. He reads recent entries out loud wanting to prove that not even her thoughts are her own.

He smiles when he checks the date and realises it's been five weeks since her period. She has no concept of time, she hasn't worked out he only raises the blinds every second or third day and his work schedule is 6 day's on 3 day's off with shifts that rotate every month. Sometimes he is with her at night, sometimes morning and sometimes he leaves her alone in the dark for 2 or 3 days at a time. Constantly reinforcing his absolute control over her.

He waits another two weeks before doing a home pregnancy test, he doesn't tell her, just leaves her tied up one night and rigs a bowl to the toilet to dip the test into when he takes her to urinate the next morning.

He stops trying new things when the test comes back positive. He still fucks her and plays with her body, he notices her hips have widened slightly, her breasts are bigger and more sensitive.

She doesn't seem to notice either of these changes, or if she does she doesn't bring them up with him. She knows it's not allowed. He can tell she's tired and nauseous, but she knows not to complain.

When she's 14 weeks along she blushes and turns her face away from him when he rubs a hand over the slight swell of her lower belly. She's stretched out on her back, arms tied above her head legs up in stirrups as he shaves her, he doesn't comment just completes his work in silence.

When he's done he puts the razor aside but stays where he is and plays with her, fucking her with his fingers enjoying the sight of her breath hitching as she relaxes into the touch. She's now equating any touch he gives her as affection.

He can see her heading to orgasm so pulls his hand away and waits her her to calm down.

Once he knows she's not going to cum he stands, steps closer and pushes inside her. She no longer finds his fucking painful and will take him in any position he demands.

Once he's deep inside her he rests a hand on the baby bump.

"Do you know what this is?"

Her eyes widen slightly but she answers him straight away "Yes Sir"

"Do you want a baby?"

"If Sir wants me to have one." she may have learned to control her words and body but those expressive dark brown eyes give away her every feeling and her desire is clear.

"I would've used contraception if I didn't want to breed you."

He loved the control he had over her, Alla had taken to her new life in ways he had never imagined. Since that first punishment she hadn't questioned him once.

Seeing her belly swell out excited him more than he expected. He'd done that to her… she didn't question why he wanted it, just accepted his decision. He didn't want a child, he wanted the proof of his absolute control.

As she gains weight she starts to get shy around him again, embarrassed by the stretch marks and changes to her body. He knows she wants her clothes back, he asks her if she knows why he took them away. She shakes her head, he tells her it's simply easier to fuck her whenever he wants if he doesn't have to worry about clothes.

He came in one day to find her curled up on her side fast asleep. At 30 weeks no matter how much she tried she couldn't keep up with his needs anymore. He didn't blame her and still fucked her whether she had the energy or not but he needed the release she couldn't provide.

It would be worse after the birth, it would be weeks before her body healed enough for his use. He shakes her awake and makes her ride him.

The next week he brought a cradle into her room along with diapers, blankets and clothes… all for it.

"Thank you Sir" she whispered and runs a hand over a tiny while onesie.

Her contractions start early one morning, they're mild and irregular when he comes down to check on her so she doesn't mention it either before or after she gives him a blow job.

Not long after he leaves they become regular and strong enough for her to check the instructions he'd left her just in case.

Hours pass as she paces, breathing through the pain. She wants Sir, but there's no way to contact him.

She can count to 300 in between contractions when she feels gush a fluid.

Things seem to speed up exponentially after her water breaks. All too soon and with no sign of Sir her body is attempting to push, deciding to follow her instincts she braces her back against the wall and bares down to push. There's a burning sensation and the feel of something leaving her body, reaching down she feel's the head between her thighs. Holding it as tightly as she dares she pushes again and again and again until the baby is free of her body.

She pulls the tiny blue body to her chest as her legs give out and runs a gentle fingers down it's face clearing the gunk from it's nose and mouth, once the airway is clear the baby takes a hitching breath before letting out a weak cry.

"I've got you…" she whispers "Momma's got you"

"Let it nurse" Sir's voice echo's over from the door way. He'd arrived just in time to see her deliver the head. He wished he had his camera… she's crumbled on the floor clutching the infant, legs open showing the cord running out of her connecting them together.

She looks up startled before nodding and looking back down at the baby. Shuffling it in her arms she lifts her breast and places her nipple against it's lips, with no fuss or hesitation it's lips open and latch on suckling straight away.

"It will help with the afterbirth" He looks over them dispassionately before scooping her up off the floor and moving them to the bed. Going back upstairs he returns within minutes, he quickly clamps and cuts the cord then sits back and waits for the afterbirth. Once it's delivered he wraps it in a plastic bag and before leaving her and it alone.

"Once it's finished eating take it into the shower with you to wash then sleep. It'll cry when it needs something."

That night he double checks the soundproofing on her room door then goes out and grabs another girl.

But a bird that stalks

down his narrow cage

can seldom see through

his bars of rage

his wings are clipped and

his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.


2006

They're back in the hotel late that night before Gideon get's a chance to look at the case file. After reading it through he picks up the phone and calls David Rossi.

It had been one of Dave's cases, Elizabeth Prentiss had turned up at their bunker in the Hoover building 3 months after her daughters disappearance. The police believed she'd run away and closed the case, Elizabeth was adamant her daughter wouldn't do that.

Dave had sat with the distraught mother and agreed to have a look at the case.

The more digging he did the less it looked like the teen had run away. She had good grades, no involvement in drugs or alcohol, the last person to see her alive had been a librarian. In her statement she'd said the teen stopped in twice a week was quiet, respectful and worked hard.

He found a girl in Baltimore, she could have been a sister to Emily Prentiss go missing under similar circumstances in 82, another from Richmond in 84, a third from Dover in 85 and finally Emily in 87 from Georgetown.

They were low risk girls who's hair, eyes and skin tone all matched.

Bodies had never been found, no one ever came forward and reported having seen them alive.

He had a lot… at the same time he had nothing.

15 months after Emily Prentiss went missing a police report from Bethesda was sent to him.

A 16 year old who matched their victimology had gone missing 8 weeks before while on her way home from volunteering at a pet shelter. Her supervisor reported she left on time but she never arrived home.

Every three months he'd called Elizabeth Prentiss to assure her he hadn't given up. At this point she didn't expect a miracle, she just wanted answers.


1988

She'd called her baby boy Dashiell.

Sir had visited to check on them every now and then but not once had he demanded her body. Sir didn't interact with the baby other than to check his growth and development.

When the door opens, she places the sleeping baby in the cradle and kneel's in the middle of the room. It's been 6 weeks since the birth, the girl he'd grabbed had lasted up until the night before, he'd buried her in the back yard with the others and went to get Alla.

Her breast are bigger than ever from nursing the baby, her belly is nearly flat again.

Using his favourite black silk rope he winds it around her body, knots uncomfortably pressing against her ribs and breasts. She's leaking before he even finishes… he pushes her over to the St Andrews cross, attaching first one hand then the other, pulling the ropes tight lifts her feet off the floor putting more pressure on her body.

He ties her legs at the thighs and calves so her knees are slightly bent and turned out leaving her wide open for him, he steps back and looks her over, nearly perfect. He adds more rope, securing her hips, ribs and shoulders tightly so she can't move her body at all.

He's used dildo's and plugs in the past but never vibrators, he's not just going to give her her first orgasm he's going to make her scream.

She gasps when he runs his hands over her sensitive breasts, massaging them, riveted by the milk dribbling out of her nipples.

This was something he'd only ever imagined.

He remembers reading somewhere in nursing school that the mothers body will generally make enough milk to keep up with the babies demand and the more milk they produce the bigger their breasts get. He wonders if he pumps her regularly in between feeding the baby if this will happen and if it does how big can he make those gorgeous things.

She's already wet when he shoves his hand between her legs.

"How do you get so wet for me so quickly Alla?" he asks

"I know Sir likes it when I'm wet so I start thinking about you when I hear you come in to make sure I'm ready for you."

"You are a fantastic little slut." he's never called her that before "you're my slut aren't you Alla?" he slaps her labia twice.

"Yes Sir."

He moves his hand up to circle her clit before pushing a finger inside of her, he repeats this several times before a second finger joined the first and then a third.

She starts to pant as he drives her towards orgasm but before she can get there he pulls away and waits for her to calm down and her arousal to start subsiding. He steps back up to her and repeats the process until she is so wet arousal is dripping down the inside of her thighs.

He hadn't planned on fucking her until after making her body orgasm for the first time but seeing her strung up like that after so long without her he can't stop himself from shoving his cock deep inside. Despite her arousal he can tell she's in pain, perhaps not fully healed from the birth but he's never before cared if she's in pain and he's not going to start now. He doesn't last long and cum's hard, his semen joining her cum dripping down her thighs.

He goes and picks up the magic wand.

"Do you ever touch yourself here?" he strokes between her legs.

"No Sir." her breath hitches

"Why not?"

"It's not mine to touch, it belongs to Sir."

He flicks the wand onto its lowest setting and pushes it against her clit. He knows right now she won't be able to stop an orgasm, she'll eventually learn to cum only when directed.

This is more direct stimulation than she's ever experienced and before long she panting loudly. Her head moves back and forth and fists clench as her body reacts in ways she's never experienced, the ropes dig deep as her hips attempt to buck but she's tied in too tightly. When she does cum it's not with a scream but with a sobbing moan.

Pulling the wand away he switches it off and grins.

"That was an orgasm… would you like another?"

"Only if Sir wants to give me another."

He switches the wand back on, this time on the highest setting and shoves it between her legs. She squeals in shock when it touches the already sensitive flesh. She takes the second orgasm with a louder groan than the first, third has her in tears and the fourth finally draws the longed for scream out of her.

She's sobbing, and sweating and in pain and he's aroused again dropping the wand he fucks her once more before letting her down. She crumbles to the floor exhausted and unable to get up, he hauls her over his shoulder and takes her back to the bedroom leaving her barely conscious in bed the body ropes still in place.

The baby had slept through it all.

The next day off work he has she's feeding the baby when he comes into her room. She kneels with him still suckling away oblivious to the fact his father is a monster and his mother is a prisoner.

Sir waits until the baby is finished eating and directs her to lay him in the cradle before taking her into the play room.

He knows the baby is still eating every four hours so sets the timer on his watch.

He binds her up on the cross again in the same position as the last time but without the body ropes. Once she's completely immobilised he blind folds and gags her.

He's never explained what he's going to do to her in the past and he's not going to start now. Alla is completely submissive to him in every aspect of her life, she's no longer capable of making a decision for herself.

Having just fed the baby her breasts aren't full enough to leak, he wonders how many times he'll have to do this to get the result he wants.

Attaching the pump to her breast she gasps at the first pull against her breast and attempts to squirm as she feels the milk exiting her body. She doesn't like this… she needs to feed the baby. The first few pulls brings watery fore milk but it quickly changes to thick creamy hind milk, he's surprised by just how much he manages to draw from her body but after close to 30 minutes the bottle is nearly full and there is next to nothing coming out. Detaching the pump he examines both breasts noting how much the left has deflated now he's emptied it.

Changing the bottle out he repeats it with the right breast.

As a test once her right breast is empty he checks the left to see if her body has started to replace it but very little is available.

He fucks her slowly while waiting.

45 minutes later a tell tale drop of milk appears at the nipple.

He empties her two more times before the timer goes off. She should have just enough milk to feed the baby…

He lets her down, takes her back to the bedroom to feed the baby. As he latches on he notices her eyes drifting to the bathroom. When the baby is fed and back asleep in the cradle he takes her to the bathroom and watches as she settles herself on the toilet, she's so used to it that she doesn't even need to try before she's urinating.

When they return to the playroom he doesn't bother with the intricacy of the cross, instead straps her into the stirrup chair and lay's her back.

He keeps at it, emptying her as fast as her body is making the milk, sending her to feed the baby every fours hours. He doesn't store any of the extracted milk just dumps it down the sink.

After 15 hours her nipples are swollen, bruised and chafed from the constant suction against them and she's crying from the pain.

He sends her to bed, and set's his alarm for 8 hours. The next morning he returns and finds the idea of having to repeat it all over again boring.

As much as he likes hearing her cry out in pain there are other ways that are more satisfying. He starts up the orgasm denial again, pushing her to the brink time and time again but never letting her cum.

"You do not cum without permission" he repeats over and over again.

When he's sure she has enough control he steps it up a notch, placing her in the stocks he lubes up and inserts his smallest anal plug and decides to introduce her to the paddle.

"Every strike you receive is a gift. You are to count them out and thank me for each one. Do you understand."

"Yes Sir."

He brings the paddle down as hard as he can on crease between her left buttock and thigh eliciting a pained cry from her. She swallows and quickly follows his instructions.

"One, thank you Sir."

He brings the second strike down on the exact same spot just as hard,

"Two, thank you Sir."

As she's thanking him for the third strike he flicks her clit forcing her hips to buck. By the time he reaches ten the pleasure and pain have mixed together so much that if it was allowed she would be begging him for release. Instead he walks around to her face and fucks her mouth until he comes. He leaves her with a mouth full of his semen not instructing her to either spit or swallow.

He goes upstairs to shower and dress for work, retuning 30 minutes later.

"Open your mouth" he instructs, she complies showing his semen stilling sitting on her tongue.

"Good girl, swallow" she obeys instantly. Releasing her from the stocks she stands and lets him guide her back to her bedroom.

"I expect that plug to still be in place when I return."

She checks on the baby and seeing him still sound asleep she showers the plug uncomfortable in her anus.

She'd been given a towel not long after Dashiell was born but Sir had told her long ago she didn't need clothes and she'd accepted this long before, after a year of being without clothes her modesty is non existent.

She'd just finished drying off when the baby started crying to be fed her body reacting immediately looking down she sighed as milk leaked in long rivers out of her body. This was a constant state these days.

The plug was uncomfortable as she lay in bed with Dashiell, telling him stories as she fed him. Talking about things she'd never dared voice in her journal.

She told him about living all over the world, seeing lakes, rivers, oceans, grand castles, majestic mountains, frozen tundra's and burning deserts.

She spoke to him in Italian, Arabic and French.

Once he was full and burped she sat against the headboard and he looked up at her and smiled.

He followed the same process every day for the next month. Before going to work he would place her in the stocks insert an anal plug, paddle her, fuck her mouth then leave with the plug still in place.

He increases the number of strikes every day.

She doesn't notice the increasing size of the anal plug until the day he brings out a custom chastity belt with attachments. A dildo is pushed into her pussy and a large plug in her ass and he locks it in place while he's at work. They stretch her uncomfortably, he's never used both at the same time and the dual pressures leave her constantly and uncomfortably aroused. Sir is always happy to find cum leaking out the edges and her thighs sticky.

She's forgotten the sound of her mothers voice and the feel of disappointment every time her father didn't show up when promised. She knows there was a friend who loved and helped her through something but she can't remember his name.

Her world is Sir and Dashiell.

She doesn't realise it but her second child is conceived the day Dashiell starts walking… on the second anniversary of the day he snatched her off a dark and windy street.

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.


2006

The file Gideon gets has all the names redacted to protect not just the surviving victims but the children who came out of that basement with Emily. If he remembers correctly the federal prosecutor in the case against Knight put together a 40 page argument on why Emily Prentiss' right to privacy out weighed the publics right to know.

Dave has the only copy of the full file but now he has the basics Gideon's memory is filling in the blanks.

He and Katie had dragged Dave out to a bar three months after Emily Prentiss was found, Katie was adamant the young woman would never truly recover. Never be able to get her GED, go to college or hold down a job, she was simply too damaged. Gideon agreed with her but Dave stubbornly refused to believe them. Emily was strong, she'd prove them all wrong.

On the way home from St Louis he sits across from Hotch and slides the file over.

"Did Dave ever tell you about the final straw for his second marriage?"

He hands over the redacted victim statement that Dave spent nearly a year getting.

"Everyone but Dave and her mother believed she was a run away"


1990

Dashiell is walking and talking in partial sentences when she gives birth a second time. Her toddler son watching with wide and fearful eyes from the crib that replaced the cradle, Sir arrives halfway through and watches from his chair, camera in hand. He get's the photos he wants and then leaves.

When he finally returns the afterbirth has come, the cord cut, baby fed and both of them cleaned up and sleeping. He casts a professional nurses eye over the baby, checks Alla over for tearing and bleeding and then leaves.

After work he drives the two hours from Bethesda to Harrisburg Pennsylvania and snatches a high school volleyball player he'd been watching.

16, pale, brunette, brown eyes.

The soundproofing around Alla's room is still perfect. They can never hear a baby crying and she can't hear the screams of a girl brought in to replace her while she was recovering from the birth.

Much like Dashiell, Cora is a quiet and content baby. She feeds easily and sleeps contentedly.

6 weeks pass and Sir comes back for her.

The new girl lasted all the way through, she hadn't disobeyed she just wasn't needed anymore. He killed her and buried her.

Wanting to see how far he could push her he leaves her tied up one day and the door between her room and the play room open. She can hear the baby and Dashiell crying but doesn't make a noise knowing she doesn't want them to hear her crying or screaming.

The 8 week old baby is getting hungrier and hungrier but he doesn't let her feed it.

He finally gets to hear her beg again, her mothers instinct taking over her training. "Please let me feed her… please…"

He leans forward grabs a fist full of hair, yanks it back and whispers in her ear… she nods her agreement terrified of the promise he just made and suffers in fearful silence for another hour.

She quickly adjusts to the chastity belt again and caring for 2 children.

Cora is rolling over and babbling when he starts working suspension into his time with her, she is hanging by the wrists and ankles when he finally lets her orgasm again.

The flogger is striking her pussy hard and fast, no matter what he's done to her body she's never lost control. He's been constantly stimulating her for nearly 2 hours with vibrators, dildo's and strikes when he drops the flogger, shoves four fingers inside her and whispers.

"Cum now."

The reaction is instant, her inner muscles pulse and hips buck hard as she cries out. Tears streaming down her face, she's barely finished when he pulls his hand out and shoves his cock in groaning at the feel of her body pulsing around his. When he's close he demands another orgasm from her.

"Cum now."

She does just as his own hits.

When he pulls out she's bleeding.


2006

It's a long and hard read but Hotch gets through the statement before they land back in Virginia.

"Why did you give me this?" Hotch knows Gideon doesn't do anything without reason.

"The girl who gave that statement 15 years ago… where do you think she is now?"

Hotch sighs and considers what he read "I wouldn't be surprised if she never went back to school, her life has probably been minimum wage jobs, a series of abusive relationships, alcoholism and or drug use. It also wouldn't surprise me if the kids are in and out of foster care. Probable multiple instances of self-harm and suicide attempts. I hate to say it but this girl was doomed the moment Knight grabbed her."

"That's what I expected at the time… I said as much to her mother" Gideon smiles, glad he and Katie aren't the only ones proved wrong "I made a couple of calls and found out she got her GED and was accepted into Georgetown. Graduated in 3 years, the kids are happy and healthy, the boys a freshman at Yale and the girls in High School. Smart, well adjusted kids. She entered the FBI Academy and four days ago stood inside your office thinking she was transferring into the unit that had been led by a man who never gave up on her."

Gideon paused as Hotch processed what he was hearing. After five seconds he spoke again "Now letting her into the unit could be an unmitigated disaster or we could have the greatest victims advocate and interviewer possible in this unit, her experience and perspective impossible to get elsewhere. She has been proving people wrong for 20 years, her own father, the detectives who declared her a runaway, myself and Katie who thought she was just too damaged and most importantly Damien Lucas Knight who was adamant she would never turn on him until the day she testified at his trial and she stared him down and told her story."


1990

She felt absolutely wretched, she'd been dizzy and nauseous for a while but it was getting worse with each passing day. When she had managed to eat she'd quickly thrown it all back up.

When Sir arrived she'd put Dashiell and Cora in the crib and knelt in the middle of the floor. When he pulled her up to her feet she couldn't stop the vomit that erupted all over both of them.

For the first time ever he slapped her face. The strike and movement is too much and she blacks out.

He walks out of the room, leaving her unconscious in a puddle of her own vomit.

Dashiell and Cora cry but she doesn't stir.

Sir showers and then leaves the house and makes the 2 hour drive from Bethesda to Wilmington planning to grab a girl to take his frustrations out on. He's never done this with so little preparation, every other girl he'd watched for several days before grabbing her.

He sees a girl entering the public library, and waits for her to come back out.

He doesn't have to wait long, he watches long enough to see her turn left down the road he pulls his van out and parks half a block away. He'll be able to grab her as she walks past.

When she's five meters away he get's out and pretends to be checking the tyres, timing his actions so he's at the rear passenger one at the same time as she's walking past. He grabs her wrapping an arm around her neck dragging her into the back of the van while cutting of her air. He doesn't see the cop running towards him or hear the business man screaming at him to stop.

She's finally stopped struggling… unconscious in his arms… when he looks up it's into the barrel of a gun.

Damien Lucas Knight refuses to speak to police, he doesn't request a phone call or a lawyer.

The girl is fine, they took her to hospital where she'll be staying overnight.

The lead detective remembers hearing about similar cases in Harrisburg and Dover, he'd received a request from the FBI asking them to be notified if they come across something similar so he calls David Rossi who instead of coming to Wilmington meets the local PD at Knight's house in Bethesda.

They search the deceptively normal house methodically. The ground floor is neat, clean and orderly, flicking the lights on Dave leads way down the basement stairs. Instead of an open space he finds another door it has floor and ceiling bolts meant to keep someone in and not out. The door opens to reveal Knights play room, Dave hates to admit it but he's seen worse, he leaves most of it for the crime scene techs to go over, on the opposite side of the room is another door with several well oiled bolts and foam inserts to stop any sound from penetrating.

Taking a deep breath Dave prepares himself for what is coming. He is expecting a trophy room, possibly a decomposing body, instead a small but well appointed kitchenette greets him, along with the smell of vomit and the sound of whimpering children.

Opposite the door is a queen size bed with a dark haired woman lying with her naked back to him. He barely gets inside when she throws herself out of the bed and kneels at his feet, eyes cast down.

The free bird thinks of another breeze

and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees

and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn

and he names the sky his own

Chapter Text

 

2006

Seeing Jason Gideon had shocked her more than expected, back then she'd only been briefly introduced to him. Most of her interactions were with Agent Cole or Dave.

Emily quickly pulled herself together, asked around to find out who would know when they would be back, made tentative friends with Agent Anderson and went home where she called her therapist and stress baked.

Dashiell was getting a huge care package this week.

Therapy had become part of her weekly routine, she'd stopped going for a while after graduating from Georgetown but struggled to keep herself on even keel without Doctor Trewlynn's calm guidance so no matter where she was assigned she still had weekly sessions either over the phone or in person with the occasional emergency chat like today.

"I'll be in therapy until they day throw me in a box and bury it in the ground" she'd once told someone.


1990

It had taken him close to an hour to coax Emily Prentiss off her knee's and into the waiting ambulance. In the end he scoops the little boy and girl up into his arms and walks out with them, she follows along unwilling to let them out of her sight.

She's a sickly green colour, wobbly on her feet and entirely unconcerned about the fact that she is completely naked until she steps out of the warm basement and into the frigid December air.

He promises to give the children to her if she lies down on the gurney, he doesn't like bartering with her in this way but the safest place for the three of them is Bethesda Naval Hospital. Dave had ordered one of the uniforms to call ahead and make sure a private room was available for them.

The little girl burrows under the heat blanket a paramedic covered Emily with and immediately latches on to nurse wide brown eyes watching him suspiciously. After they close the doors the boy's eyes fill with tears and he joins his sister, Dave suspects neither child has ever been out of that room.

He's curious about why Knight allowed the children clothes but not Emily, it's not a question for right now.

They're taken back to the promised room and Dave asks to use one of their secure lines while the staff get them settled.

He dials the Canadian Embassy where Elizabeth is filling in for 3 months.

"Julie… it's Dave Rossi, I need you to put me through to Elizabeth and go and sit with her while we speak."

Elizabeth's PA doesn't question the instruction and it's barely 30 seconds later that Elizabeth is on the line.

"Elizabeth, I need you to sit down."

"I'm sitting…" her voice is weak, Dave has never said this before, and her heart is trying to hammer it's way out of her chest.

"Is Julie with you?"

"Yes…" he can hear the tears.

"A man was arrested attempting to abduct a 16 year old girl in Wilmington earlier today, when we searched his house we found Emily, she's alive, safe and I'm at Bethesda with her right now. They're checking her out just to be safe but she's ok."

He'd never expected to hear Elizabeth Prentiss sobbing… "She's really alive?"

"Yes she is. I'll let the front desk know to expect you, we've registered her as Jane Doe so show them your ID and ask for me."

There's a shuffle, a thud and the sound of retreating footsteps on the other end of the line, Dave waits patiently for Julie to pick up the phone then repeats his instructions to the PA who promises to be on the next flight to DC with Elizabeth. He then calls the lead Detective from Wilmington and lets him know he's staying with Emily and will relay any pertinent information he gets from her to him. His final call is to Gideon asking him to head to the house and finish searching it. He won't be leaving Emily until Elizabeth is here.

He lets the staff know to expect Elizabeth and heads over to the room slipping inside to find the toddlers snuggled together in a corner and Emily back on her knees in the middle of the room.

Joining her on the floor he reaches out and lifts her chin so he can look her in the eye. He is surprised when she doesn't flinch away from him.

"Why do you kneel in the middle of the room?"

Her answer is immediate clear and concise "When Sir enters the room I am to kneel in the centre with my eyes on the floor. With the curtain up I can't see who's coming in so I kneel just in case it's Sir."

"Do you always do what Sir tells you to?" this is a dangerous question but one that will give him insight into her current state of mind and help him prepare Elizabeth.

"Yes"

"Why"

"Everything belongs to Sir, I am his and he can do what he wants with me."

"Emily…" her eyes widen with fear when he says her name "He doesn't own this room… do you understand what that means?"

She shakes her head.

"In here you don't need to kneel."

Her eyes dart around the room, as she considers his words and tries to work out if he's attempting to trick her. She hasn't made a decision for herself in nearly four years and while she understands what he's saying she doesn't know what to do with it.

Dave holds out his hand and waits for her, eventually she comes to the conclusion that this is as good as an order and takes his hand and stands up with him. He takes the hospital gown from the patiently waiting nurse and wrapped it around her before guiding her back to the bed.

He then gently picks the sleeping children up one at a time and moves them to the bed with her.

"I'll sit by the door and let you know if Sir's coming in so you can stay in bed and rest."

She is strangely acquiescent as the nurse checks temperatures, pulse rates, blood pressure and takes blood samples from all of them. An older no nonsense woman who seems completely unfazed by what she's just heard. Dave knows better… someone will find her crying in a supply closet by the end of the day.

"What are their names." the nurse keeps her voice quiet and gentle.

"Dashiell and Cora"

"They're beautiful names for beautiful children… when are their birthdays?" Emily doesn't respond.

Dave will learn in the coming weeks if asked a question she doesn't know the answer to she simply won't respond.

After several moments of silence the nurse moves on seeing if there's another way to determine the children's ages.

"Is Dashiell still in diapers?"

"Only really at night, sometimes he forgets to tell me when he has to go but he's pretty good."

"Has Cora started walking yet"

"Sort of, she can't get more than a couple of steps before falling"

Hopefully Gideon will find something at the house that will help them pin down what they're working with.

Basic check up finished the nurse beckons Dave over to the door.

"I have a big concern..." she whispered

"The kneeling, the disregard for modesty, the submissiveness, inability to make a choice, having no concept of time or leaving her alone with a man?"

"All of the above... Lieutenant Lucy Conners" she stuck her hand out and smirked relieved that Dave was thinking along the same lines has her.

"Special Agent David Rossi, FBI"

"She's overwhelmed and terrified so she's going to stick with what's kept her alive for however long that monster had her."

"3 years, 10 months, 8 days..." Dave supplied "She'll do what she's told when she's told." he sighed, and contemplated how to handle this "We need to keep them together and their exposure to new people limited for now, Emily's Mother is on her way and will be here in a few hours. Unless they need higher level care can we keep just you and I in here?"

"There's nothing immediately wrong so unless their blood work shows something no one else needs to be here, do you have a big stick for me to use with my supervisor when I tell her I need to come off the floor?"

"The Secretary of State has probably already received a call from her Mother..." Dave shrugged "Elizabeth is a high level Diplomat and if anything happens to Emily while in the care of the US Navy... I'd put money on Elizabeth tearing this place apart in retribution. Everyone said she'd run away... except Elizabeth. When the DC Police rode her off Elizabeth came to me and I've been looking for her ever since."

"I can work with that."

Lucy stuck her head out of the room and beckoned over a passing orderly. Bloods were handed over along with instructions to bring in a meal, diapers, wipes and if possible a change of clothes for the children.

When she turned back around she jumped at the sight of Dashiell peering around the curtain studying her intently. The little boy had somehow managed to get off the bed by himself, Lucy had learned a long time ago to never underestimate the climbing ability of a toddler.

"Hey Dashiell" she smiled at the little boy "What's wrong?"

He didn't respond straight away but moved his gaze to Dave who watched him back. Kneeling so she was eye level Lucy ran a gentle hand through his too long messy black curls.

"Mommy's sleeping..." he finally whispered "Where's potty?"

"Just over here" Lucy stood and held her hand out, once he took it she guided him to the en-suite, put up the step stool and watched the little boy toilet himself only asking for help to reach the sink and wash his hands.

When that was done Lucy lifted him up on the bed, Emily was sleeping propped up slightly. While she'd been talking to Dave Emily had changed the gown around so it opened in the front and was lying skin to skin with Cora who had been stripped down to her diaper and was dozing while latched on. Dashiell wiggled his way under her free arm and took the other breast to suckle on.

"Developmentally I'd put him around 2 and a half. He can form a sentence, ask and answer questions, he's toilet trained enough to know when he needs to go and take care of the basics with help. That being said he's comfort nursing, understandable considering the day he's had. She may have never even thought of weaning him off the breast especially if they both find comfort from it. I've asked for psych to send someone down to asses them tomorrow morning."

Dave nodded "I have a theory on why she didn't answer the age question..."

"Yeah?"

"She probably only has a vague idea about how much time has passed. Two pregnancies at 40 weeks each... how many periods she got in between things like that..."

"Her period has probably been irregular since giving birth to Dashiell. Nursing affects ovulation. She may not have menstruated at all between pregnancies." Dave grimaced remembering what he'd seen in that basement. The image of those girls suffering in that room would stay with him for a while.

"I will say this..." Lucy continued "The kids are clean and well fed, there are no obvious illnesses or injuries, Dashiell might retain a couple of dream like memories but Cora never will."

They dropped into silence watching the three of them sleep until an orderly cracked open the door.

"I have a message from Agent Gideon, the supplies and meal you requested." She pushed a cart laden down with food, clothes and diapers before handing over a sheet of paper.

He quickly glanced over the paper before handing it to Lucy.

'Knight transferred to federal custody, bodies buried in the back yard, number unknown. Found journals for each girl he took. Reading Emily's first. Possible DOB found for the children, boy 10 Mar 88 and girl 1 Nov 89.'

Lucy grimaced and handed it back, rolling the tray over to the bed. Reaching out she gently shook Emily's shoulder to wake her up.

"I've got some food for you guys. Mac and Cheese for the kids, soup for you."

The brunette lay there for a moment processing her words, wondering if this was an elaborate plot of Sir's to try and trip her up.

Lucy grabbed the bed control and moved it to an upright position so Emily could eat comfortably.

Both Dashiell and Cora had been woken by the movement of the bed, Dashiell moved off his mother straight away peering at the tray of food obviously hungry but Cora only squirmed slightly to get comfortable again. Wanting to be more upright than the bed allowed, Emily pulled the 13 month old off her lap shuffled around so her legs were crossed and settled the girl on one thigh. Cora immediately turned away from the room and latched back on, from what Lucy could see not actually drinking.

Moving away to give Emily and the children space to eat Dave studied their behaviour and the way Emily interacted with her children. Dashiell ignored the mac and cheese instead sharing the soup with Emily. Cora made no move to take any of the food until Emily broke off the end of a bread roll and offered it to her. He noticed Lucy sighing in relief at seeing the little girl actually eat solid food instead of just nursing. When the soup was all gone Emily pulled the mac and cheese over which was shared between the three of them as well.

Cora seemed to have finally grown confident enough to turn and face the room, reaching one tiny hand to take noodles off the spoon Emily held out to here sucking and chewing on the soft pasta easily, brown eyes widening in surprise at the new taste.

Leaning forward Lucy whispered in Daves ear "both right on track for eating behaviours"

When they'd cleaned both plates between the three Emily scooted her way off the bed watching Dave and Lucy's reactions warily. When they seemed to ignore her she made her way over to the en-suite door and confirmed the presence of a shower. Dashiell undressed himself while Emily stripped Cora down and shrugged out of the hospital gown and the three disappeared, seconds after the door closed the sound of the shower started. Neither of them missed the purple bruising and welts down Emily's back, buttocks and thighs.

"Is it just me or is the naked thing really disconcerting?" Dave asked.

"Not just you... from what little I've seen medical and developmental issues are minimal. Emily is capable of caring for them so as long as they have somewhere to stay they can be released as soon as Emily's cleared by a psychiatrist…"

"That's the 64 thousand dollar question... she's got a lot to work through before she can even start dealing with being held as a sexual slave. Without speaking with her more and reading those journal's I don't even want to speculate just how much damage has been done."

Lucy stood and placed the empty tray back on the cart and pulled out the pajamas's and diapers for the children as well as the clean maternity gown she asked for for Emily. She placed Cora's dirty diaper in the hazardous waste box and put the clothes Dashiell had taken off aside for washing.

Several minutes later the shower shut off and a naked wet Dashiell ran out and waited by the bed.

60 Seconds later Cora and Emily followed, both wrapped in a big fluffy towel.

As Emily expertly dried and dressed the kids Dave finally saw something other than fear or confusion. Emily engaged the children with smiles, tickles and raspberry's, laughing along with their giggles.

Once they were both dried and dressed Emily let them on the floor where the toddlers started playing their own unique game of chase while she finished drying herself. There were several tense minutes when she stared at the hospital gown unsure of whether to leave it off or put it on.

"Emily?" Lucy softly called once the younger woman was clothed again and beckoned her over to the seats by the window where they could watch the kids.

"Why did you hesitate when putting the gown on?"

Emily bit her lip "Sir said I don't need clothes."

"What do you mean?"

"Sir doesn't want to wait for me to undress to fuck me."

It took every ounce of control Lucy had not to recoil in shock at the statement. She took a deep breath and hoped she was about to say the right thing.

"That's fine when you're at home but here in the hospital you need to cover up. Nursing is fine but you need to at least keep the gown on"

"Sir won't get angry? I don't want them to get cold?"

"Why would they get cold?"

"That's the punishment, every time I disobey Sir is five minutes without heat."

Lucy smiled and patted Emily's knee "Sir won't get angry at you for following the hospitals rules"

After that conversation she takes a few minutes to get her emotions under control and call her husband to let him know she'll be home late.

When she comes back in Dave steps out of the room for his own 5 minute composure break, he calls his wife and lets her know he won't be home that night at all.

Looking down at his watch he's surprise to see it's been close to four hours since he called Elizabeth. Just as he's about to reenter the room he hears his name being called. Running down the hall towards him is Elizabeth herself, Julie keeping pace.

"Where is she?" Elizabeth is desperate to get to her daughter.

"She's in with a nurse at the moment." Dave pulls her over to a chair and sits her down. Julie on the other side of the Ambassador, pen and paper at the ready.

"There's a couple of things you need to know."

"You said she was ok…" Elizabeth's eyes flash angrily.

"And she is, I just want you to be prepared. Emily wasn't the only one we found, we think her son Dashiell will be three in March and her daughter Cora is around 13 months."

Elizabeth dissolves into tears "She's had 2 babies?"

"Yeah, you're a grandma… they are healthy…" taking a deep breath Dave pushes on "We don't know many details on Emily's time there yet but she refers to the man who held her as Sir, we don't think she knows he's in custody. She hasn't asked and we haven't offered the information and she won't do anything she thinks he won't like. She doesn't seem to care if she's dressed or not and both the children nurse on demand so don't be surprised if she just drops or opens the gown without warning. Be prepared for her to say some pretty upsetting things."

Elizabeth stares off into the distance for a few minutes trying the get her thoughts in order. Dave giving her the space she needs to process, Julie scribbling down a massive to do list.

"Julie…" Elizabeth finally speaks again he brain has kept cycling back to preparing the house for toddlers again.

"Crib, toddler bed, bedding, clothes, toys, diapers, clothes for Emily, care safety seats. I'll organise for the Georgetown house to be opened and cleaned first thing in the morning and everything to be delivered and the kitchen stocked. I'll contact your lawyer and start the process of getting them added to the trust as soon as they've got birth certificates and get them to look into ensuring he has no claim whatsoever on the children. Agent Rossi?"

"Yes" Dave tries not to laugh at the ever efficient and level headed Julie.

"Should the crib and toddler bed be set up in Emily's room and will the hospital refer us to a psychiatrist or should I start doing some research."

"Set everything up in one room for now, the hospital will refer you to a psychiatrist who specialises in sexual trauma which is exactly what Emily has been experiencing. We're organising for someone to asses Emily in the morning and get an idea of where she's at mentally and emotionally. Right now we're just keeping the room quiet and letting them relax."

"Ma'am, do you want me to contact Mr Prentiss?"

"Mr Prentiss can burn in hell" Elizabeth spits "If Emily wants to call him when she finds out he gave up on her again then she can."

With that final declaration Elizabeth stands and marches towards the door and lets herself in.

When Dave looks around the curtain Emily is sitting on the floor with the kids. Cora is in Emily's lap and Dashiell is sitting facing them, they're playing some sort of clapping game that has Cora giggling like crazy and Dashiell concentrating fiercely on Emily's hands. A proud smile is on Lucy's face as she looks on.

Dave can see Emily physically stopping herself from moving to the centre of the room to kneel.

Her eyes drift to the woman standing behind him, her breathing speeds up and tears pool in disbelieving eyes.

"Mommy?"

"I missed you Em…"

Moving Cora to the floor Emily pushes herself up and then throws herself at Elizabeth with enough force that it takes both Rossi and Julie to stop them from tumbling to the ground.

"Oh beautiful girl…" Elizabeth clutched Emily to her as tightly as she could.

"I missed you too Mom" they stay there just holding each other until Cora decides she want's her mother back.

"Ma!" a tiny voice echoes through the room.

Elizabeth pulls back and cups Emily's face in her hands "Introduce me to your babies."


Elizabeth woke sometime in the middle of the night when Emily slid out of the bed, seconds later a low whimpering met her ears and when she opened her eyes Emily was standing at the crib lifting Cora out and cuddling her close.

Her gaze followed Emily as she checked on Dashiell before coming back to bed with the toddler who settled comfortably on her mothers chest pushed aside Emily's gown and latched on to nurse for a while.

"She got lonely" Emily admitted "Sir said we only need one crib so she's always slept with either me or Dashiell."

"Do you want me to get Dashiell and bring him over?" Elizabeth wrapped her arm around Emily's shoulders and pulled her close, her other coming up to rub Cora's back.

"No..." she hesitated it was hard to know if Sir would like her talking to her mother about this "When he was a baby and I was with Sir I think he got used to being alone. He didn't like it but... it doesn't seem to be bothering him right now."

Swallowing against the thought of what had been done to Emily while she was 'with' Sir Elizabeth pressed a kiss to Emily's temple and smiled "You're a good mom"

Elizabeth had nearly drifted back to sleep when Emily spoke again.

"I followed the rules you taught me... I didn't fight back, did what I was told and waited for someone to rescue me."

Early the next morning Emily was seated on the floor eating breakfast with the kids when Lucy stuck her head in the room and beckoned Elizabeth out into the hall and closed the door behind them.

"This is Dr Anita Trewlynn, she's a civilian psychiatrist who specialises in the type of trauma Emily's suffered."

"Pleasure to meet you" Elizabeth shook hands with the Dr "Emily and the children are just eating breakfast." she studied the woman intently for a moment "I don't expect you to break Emily's confidences and inform on her, I don't expect you to walk out of that room in an hour having fixed her, I don't expect her to go right back to school and head to college next fall." Elizabeths voice was trembling "I want a list of do's and don'ts, a list of things I need to keep an eye out for and when to intervene, I want to know what I should push and what I shouldn't and I want to take my daughter and grandchildren home."

"First of all, keep up that attitude she's going to need that type of support. I had a long conversation with Agent Rossi this morning. He gave me a run down of what's happened to Emily and what he observed last night. The man that took her spent nearly four years moulding Emily into his perfect sexual partner, she's going to have triggers that may take years to find and behaviours that will make you want to scream in frustration but that's not a problem for today. Today I'm here to asses Emily's mental competency to be discharged from the hospital and care for the children."

Elizabeth nodded "If necessary can you discharge all three of them into my care?"

"Let me speak with Emily before jumping that particular gun."

"I like you" Elizabeth states with finality, impressed with the forthright manner "If Emily does as well can you take her on as a patient?"

"Let's see how this morning goes. I might not be the best person for this, I'll recommend the psychiatrist that will work in Emily's best interest."

Lucy and Dr Trewlynn slip into the room leaving Elizabeth to wait outside by herself. Sitting down across from the room she stares at the door with an intensity that makes her eyes burn.

She's not alone for long before Julie turns up with coffees, Elizabeth's small valise and a medium suitcase on wheels.

"The cleaning service is at the house right now. They'll be done by 11, I called your interior decorator, she'll be at the house in an hour to make the changes to Emily's bedroom, including a new bed for her, a toddler bed and crib. She suggested turning the guest room next to it into play room and adding a connecting door to give Emily a mini suite. I gave her the go ahead on the playroom but wanted to check with you on the door because it's essentially a structural change."

"Do it." Elizabeth instructed "Tell Maya I'll pay triple if it's all done by 6pm"

"No problem... I did some shopping for everyone last night. Most of it is at the house but I've got several changes of clothes, diapers for both kids, sweats and shirts for Emily. Winter jackets and shoes for all three, hopefully Emily's feet haven't changed size. A couple of books for Emily, a teddy bear for Cora and duplo for Dashiell. Don't faint when you see the AMEX bill next month." she patted the suitcase.

"When was the last time I gave you a raise?" Elizabeth looks at the woman who's been her PA for 15 years.

"HA... they stopped letting you increase my salary 10 years ago when they discovered I earned more than you" Julie smirked, it was a long running joke between the two women her base pay was the same as every other PA but Elizabeth was generous with incidentals like dry cleaning, travel and food expenses leaving Julie with very few outgoings.

"What did I do to deserve you?" Elizabeth murmurs.

"Absolutely nothing… it was all her…" Julie nodded towards the closed door "Emily was 5 years old when I started working for you..." Julie swallowed remembering the tiny girl that had wormed her way into her heart "You'd just been assigned to Tunisia... my first day we were going through everything that needed to be done before we flew out. Antony stormed into the room with Emily trailing after in tears and said he'd changed his mind he didn't want to go to Tunis and he couldn't look after Emily while you went ahead to set everything up."

"I remember..." Elizabeth never forgave her ex-husband for that.

"You were livid at him for just telling her Mommy was taking her away from Daddy... the two of you started yelling and she stood there crying. I picked her up and took her down to the kitchen for some juice... once she calmed down she dragged me up to her bedroom and introduced me to all of her dolls. I fell in love with your daughter right then and there."

"When I found you two an hour later she'd conned you into a tea party... you then worked your backside off to change all of the arrangements to include my five year old."

"She was terrified on the flight over... so we just passed her between us. I watched Emily grow up and I've spent the last four years grieving with you and like you I never believed she'd run away because if she didn't run away when things got bad in Rome, she wouldn't run away when things were good here. I'm in this for the long haul... if you retire I'll just quit and mooch off you for the rest of my life. In 50 years time you'll be bitching at me from your bed in a nursing home."

"Thank you..." Elizabeth never quite worked out what she did to deserve Julie's loyalty and friendship.

Inside Emily's hospital room Lucy sat by the door unobtrusively while Anita took Emily through the assessment. The previous evening had been too emotionally charged to give Emily and the children full physicals, hopefully it was something they could do once Dr Trewlynn finished up.

Their blood test results had brought up a few issues.

It was interesting listening to the Dr ask seemingly inconsequential questions until the picture started filling in.

She was building a baseline of Emily's current ability to care for herself and her children.

Emily had no idea it was happening.

It was with a grim look that Anita and Lucy left the room to speak with Elizabeth.

"I have my initial assessment and it's good news and bad news. I asked for Emily's permission to discuss what was said with you and she said 'If I wanted to'. Every time I asked her to make a choice she gave the decision back to me. For example I asked her if she wanted pink or purple for Cora's crib sheets and she responded with 'whichever I want her to have' but I could tell by her body language she really preferred purple. Based on that and a few other things she said, I believe Knight has controlled every aspect of her life, she doesn't know how to function without that level of control anymore."

"What does that mean for Emily, Dashiell and Cora?"

"It will take a lot of time for Emily to take back control but I know I can help her. For the children right now nothing needs to change in their day to day care, Emily is perfectly capable of being their mother. Unfortunately she just isn't emotionally capable of consenting to anything as complex as medical care or legal issues. You need to get yourself in front of a Judge and get yourself appointed as a temporary guardian for all three. It means you can deal with all of the big stuff for her until she's ready to take it on, for example the children haven't had any of their vaccinations. Asking for Emily to sign off on them will just stress her out, you can consent to the first set and hopefully by the time boosters come around Emily will be able to either take part in or make the decision. Let me know when your court date is and I'll attend as Emily's psychiatrist of record."

"Julie..." Elizabeth called the PA over "call my lawyer and get him to draw up an emergency guardianship application for Emily and the children. Also a submission for a court appointed independent trustee for Emily's trust fund so no one can get their hands on her inheritance. Education and medical costs for her and the children not withstanding release of the fund to Emily's management will need sign off from the trustee, yourself and Dr Trewlynn."

Anita blinked "Trust fund?"

"My father set it up for Emily when she was born for her to access at 21, he left everything to her when he passed to stop my then husband from being able to claim any of the not insignificant amount. She's going to need it and I don't trust her father to not try and talk her out of the money. If neither of us can touch it no one can accuse me of not acting in her best interest. You'll be in the best position to know when she's ready for it which might not be in 10 months time, Julie will be able to help her relearn how to manage her money properly and an independent trustee will keep all of us honest."

Anita nodded her agreement.

"Doctor" Lucy finally spoke up "in your professional opinion is it in the best interest of Emily and the children for Elizabeth to consent to full physicals as their next of kin?"

Anita eyed the nurse wondering what she knew. Before answering she walked over to the wall unit and pulled out the charts, noting the Jane Doe and dependents designation. She quickly skimmed through them noting the blood tests results for all three.

"Get the attending here, I'll co-sign off on the physicals."

Lucy breathed a sigh of relief and went to organise a pediatric and obstetrics consult.

"She's pregnant isn't she." Elizabeth stated softly.

Anita nodded.

"Step 1 in getting Emily back in control. Get her a watch, get her used to tracking time and appointments again. Tell her what's happening and give her a time that it's happening let her be responsible for being ready and don't surprise her with anything. Don't take any of the children's care off her, use phrases like 'Do you need me to watch them while you have a shower' but don't instruct her to leave them with you while she showers. Tell her when meals are but don't go and get her when it's time and if she doesn't show up don't make a big deal out of it. Let her do their meals if she wants to. Build your own relationship with Dashiell and Cora as their grandmother not their primary carer, that's Emily's job. Finally the demand nursing, just leave it for now. All three of them are stressing over the sudden change, Lucy noticed that every time he met someone new Dashiell went and nursed for a while and Cora's pretty much camped out there. That'll die down naturally once they feel safe and secure in their environment, they won't seek the comfort of nursing as much…" Anita looked at her watch, she had 5 minutes to get upstairs.

"If everything comes back fine on the physical's I'll release them into your care. We'll set up twice weekly appointments for her at my offices in Georgetown, she'll want to bring the kids with her which is fine. Oh and one more thing, do not close and lock any doors especially ones that Emily uses. If it's a security issue make sure there's a key in plain sight. Let her wander as much as she wants."

Cora and Dashiell did not react well to the pediatrician leaving all three of them in tears and the children hiding from everyone. The young resident confirmed they seemed to be on track but were showing signs of low vitamin D, C and iron, a good diet would fix that up and a referral to a dietician was given. The real problem came when he gave them their first round of vaccinations.

Having already been stuck for blood the previous day they cried long and loud eventually crying themselves to sleep.

Emily's check with the obstetrician went even worse.

Already wrung out from the children's check up she dissolved into a mess when the doctor questioned her about her previous pregnancies. The woman didn't seem to notice Emily's distress when she couldn't answer all of the questions.

"First pregnancy?" she asked not noticing the children.

Emily's eyes flickered to her mothers "Fifth…" she whispered as her bottom lip trembled.

The doctor's cool manner grew even colder as she demanded more information.

In the background Lucy stiffened, she'd told the doctor to tread lightly… she'd told the doctor Emily was fragile and traumatised.

"Dashiell and Cora" she pointed to where they slept in the crib "I had a miscarriage when Cora was younger…" she couldn't continue while her mother was there…

"She had an abortion in early '86" Elizabeth supplied and felt Emily jolt in shock "Julie over heard you and Matthew talking" she admitted to Emily never moving from her seat by Emily's head holding her hand "It's why i brought you back to the states sooner than planned, you needed a clean start."

Still completely oblivious to the emotional charge the the room the Doctor went back to getting her answers.

"What date was the miscarriage?"

Like when asked for Dashiell and Cora's ages Emily couldn't answer.

"Emily, I need more information than you're giving me… what date did you have the miscarriage?"

Stepping in between Emily and the doctor Lucy glared at the doctor.

"Can we have a word outside please…"

Huffing in frustration the doctor followed her out.

"Did I or did I not tell you to tread lightly?" the furious nurse demanded.

"She can't even answer a simple question."

"You were briefed on this... It's because she doesn't know. She doesn't even know what today is, less than 24 hours ago she was found locked in the basement of a man who has been abducting, raping and killing teenage girls for 10 years and do you know how long she'd been down there? I'll give you a hint, he snatched her off the street on February 2nd 1987" Lucy was almost shaking in rage as the doctor paled at her words "Yesterday I asked her how old the kids are and she couldn't answer that either."

She took a deep breath to calm herself down "Now can you finish this without traumatising her any further?"

"No she can't" Elizabeth Prentiss' voice cut between them "You will not reenter this room, please organise for another obstetrician, ensure they are briefed on my daughters recent history and ensure they have the appropriate bedside manner."

The doctor wilted under Elizabeth's glare "I would suggest you become a little less arrogant and a little more sensitive"

The second attempt when much more smoothly, the doctor took Lucy's warning's seriously and let the nurse do most of the questioning especially when trying to pinpoint when the miscarriage was.

"How was Dashiell going with potty training?"

"Could he drink from a cup with both hands?"

"Was Cora sitting up yet? No, how about rolling over?"

All in all the second attempt went well, and ended with an ultrasound showing a healthy fetus approximately 9 weeks along.

Best guess based on Emily's memories the miscarriage had been sometime around March. Hopefully Dave would find information in Knight's journals to confirm that.


At Dr Trewlynn's recommendation Elizabeth took them home late that night. She didn't want them getting comfortable in the hospital only to be moved again.

The press had been camped out at Knights house since word broke of not just bodies being pulled out of the house but a survivor as well. So far no one had mentioned Emily's name and they all hoped it would stay that way.

Julie quickly organised a car service to pick them up and it was a tense 30 minute drive, neither of the children liked being strapped into their safety seats. Emily sat between them and fighting off the nausea the movement caused left thumbnail firmly between her teeth.

Seeing the outside of the house felt like the memory of a dream, vague and unsettling.

Elizabeth hadn't been in the house since leaving for Canada 2 and a half months before, she trusted Maya and Julie to make sure everything was ready.

Walking through the front door Dashiell dozing in her arms while Emily carried Cora, she sighed in relief when the first thing she saw was the baby gates on the stairs. Guiding Emily through the house she made sure her daughter remembered where everything was, showed her the kitchen fully stocked with food appropriate for toddlers along with a high chair and booster seat. The suspicious look on Emily's face when she was told she was free to use anything whenever she wanted worried her.

"My study... I'm on leave until the new year so I won't be in here much." Elizabeth commented waving towards it absently, before heading to the stairs, she was opening the gate when she noticed Emily still standing in the study door looking inside with an unreadable look on her face.

"You and Daddy had a fight in here..." she murmured "I didn't understand why you were taking me away from him... Julie gave me cookies and juice..."

"I didn't take you away... he refused to come with us..."

Emily nodded "I remember, I never knew what to think when he tried to blame you for me not seeing him. For a while you'd tell me when Daddy was visiting sometimes he turned up sometimes he didn't"

"You were heartbroken every time he didn't show up when promised so I stopped telling you when he was going to visit. I couldn't watch him hurt anymore." They'd never talked about her father's absence before.

"That's how I knew it wasn't your fault... what's the date?" Elizabeth blinked at the sudden subject change, this was the first time Emily asked.

"11th of December 1990"

Emily's eyes drifted to the formal lounge "The tree's not up yet... we always decorated on the first." she chose to ignore the true implications of the date.

"I wouldn't decorate without you…" Elizabeth hadn't decorated for Christmas since the one before Emily went missing. "I'll get everything out of storage tomorrow and the four of us can decorate together."

Emily nodded absently and turned towards the stairs. Elizabeth let them through the gates and led her up to the new suite Maya had managed to put together for them earlier in the day.

"All your things are still there, Maya had to rearrange and box up some of it to make room for the crib and Dashiell's bed." Elizabeth led her into the room.

Her twin bed had been replaced with a double, and pushed against the far wall under the window with the children's bed's opposite. Emily's posters had been pulled down and stored away, the walls left the soft cream Elizabeth had painted the room when pregnant with Emily… Emily didn't know what to make of the deep maroon quilt set and pillows on her bed.

Dashiell's little bed was plain white with a grass green comforter while Cora's white crib had lavender bedding. Maya had even added wooden name decal's that matched the bedding mounted over their beds. Each bed had a set of drawers that matched the bedding and Elizabeth was willing to bet Julie had half filled them with clothes already.

"We're allowed blankets?" Emily asked letting a hand drift over the soft material on her bed.

"You didn't have them?" Elizabeth was dreading the answer.

"Sir took them away, as long as I obeyed he didn't turn the heat off so we didn't need them. I got used to it and he always left clean clothes for them."

Needing a moment to compose herself Elizabeth turned away and tucked Dashiell in his bed running a gentle hand over his head before leaning down to kiss his cheek "You need a haircut little man" she mused before turning back to Emily.

"You're allowed as many blankets as you want" Elizabeth stated "now come and have a look at this..."

She lead Emily to the doorway that hadn't been there this morning, what had been a guest room was now a cozy play room. One corner had a princess play-mat with enough dolls and stuffed animals for 3 little girls, another had a race track themed mat with duplo, cars and trucks.

A television sat in a giant book shelf which was stuffed full of books and videos.

The bottom three shelves contained Emily's childhood book collection, Elizabeth knew she's lost Emily's attention when she pulled 'The Enchanted Wood'* from it's place. Backing away silently she watched as Emily sat down on the couch with Cora and started to read aloud.

"There were once three children, called Jo, Bessie, and Fanny. All their lives they had lived in a town..."

Stepping out of the room and into the hall she noticed for the first time the doors to Emily's area weren't just open but had been removed all together. Peeking back in she checked the new opening and confirmed there was no door there, same with Emily's ensuite. Each entry had a baby gate to stop the little ones from wandering but there was nothing to stop Emily from getting out. Maya must have moved heaven and earth to get all of this done for them.

One by one she checked every single door upstairs and all of the handles had been replaced so none of them could lock. Further investigation revealed only Elizabeth's bedroom and bathroom doors actually closed now. Sitting on her bed a single sheet of white paper lay.

'Elizabeth,

Julie gave me the basics when she called to tell me to take the doors off Em's room. I took the liberty of making sure there is no where in your house they can accidentally get locked in or out of. I also added extendable key rings to the front and back doors so she can never be locked in the house (at Emily's eye level so the little ones can't reach them)

Call me when the kids are ready for their own rooms and I'll take care of everything. I'll bring the doors back when Emily asks me to.

xxoo Maya

P.S. I expect pictures of the little ones. They've got to be just as gorgeous as Em.

Biting her cheek against the sobs she'd been holding back for 24 hours, Elizabeth went into her bathroom, stripped down and turned the water on as hot as she could stand. With the noise from the exhaust and water for cover she stood there and cried.

Eventually her tears ran out, she quickly turned the water off, dried and dressed in comfortable pyjama's before going downstairs to make herself some tea. Emily's quiet reading following down the stairs.

When she came back upstairs with her tea, everything was quiet. The toy room was empty, when she stood at the bedroom door she found Emily stripped down standing in front of her closet staring at the new and old clothes it contained. She hadn't really gotten a good look when Lucy photographed her earlier, but seeing the hand shaped bruises on Emily's hips, the welts on her back along with the deep purple colour that seemed to cover the entirety of her buttocks and thighs invoked a rage she didn't know existed. Proof that Emily was raped was sleeping peacefully in the room but this stark evidence of violence and Emily's seeming indifference to her injuries twisted the knife in her gut another notch.

How bad must it have been for pain to be a constant and ignorable companion.

She watched as Emily seemed to make a decision and pulled on a pair of cotton panties before slipping into the bed.

Sighing in relief, Elizabeth followed suit.

When she woke for the second time at 3am Elizabeth considered crawling into bed with Emily so she at least she wouldn't have to get out of bed when the panic struck and she wanted to confirm this was real and her daughter was home safe.

An hour later a loud crash and thump startled her awake, it was quickly followed by the sound of Emily sobbing.

Throwing herself out of bed and running to Emily's bedroom she found chaos.

The children's new dressers had been dragged out into the playroom and Emily had managed to move her own bed into the middle of the room where Dashiell was sitting in the middle of it watching her still half asleep while Cora looked on from her her crib with wide tearful eyes.

Elizabeth arrived just in time to see Emily move the crib with Cora still in it to the corner. Completely at a loss as to why Emily would be doing this at four am she stepped back to observe.

When Emily was happy with the crib placement she moved Dashiell in with his sister and pushed her bed right up against it trapping the children between herself and a wall. Dashiell's empty bed was hauled up on it's head and used to block the crib in from the open end, dressers brought back in and shoved behind it.

In it's new position the crib was hidden from a view of the window and mostly hidden from the door. The width of the bed meant no one would be able to reach the children without literally stepping on Emily or moving the dressers and other bed. Crawling along the bed Emily dropped the side of the crib, and then her head to the pillow.

Their first appointment with Dr Trewlynn was the next day but Elizabeth would be calling her to see if she should push back on Emily to put the room back the way Maya arranged it or leave it.

She suspected she would be making a lot of these phone calls.

Tomorrow was going to be exhausting for all of them, Agent Rossi had spent the day interviewing Knight while Gideon continued to go through the house. They had asked for Emily to meet them in Quantico at 2 that afternoon to start getting her statement.

Which reminded her she needed to get Emily a new watch… instead of going back to bed Elizabeth headed downstairs to her study and started working on a to do list.

At 6am she went down to the basement and hauled the Christmas decorations up to the lounge.

She was in the middle of preparing a full breakfast when Julie let herself in the front door just after 7.

In hushed tones she filled Julie in on what Emily had done with the beds as well as the to do list she'd made. Grabbing a pen the younger woman immediately crossed off a few items she'd already taken care of.

Leaving the food in Julie's capable hand Elizabeth made her way upstairs and stuck her head into Emily's bedroom to find the beds all empty and the sounds of the shower. A little unsure of exactly how to proceed she decided to simply call out to her.

"Em… come down when you're ready for breakfast." she waited to see if there was a response, after a good 30 seconds of only the sound of water running a nervous voice called back.

"Ok…" taking it as a win Elizabeth went back downstairs.

Less than 30 minutes later they heard the top gate open and close followed by the uneven thud of little feet working their way down stairs then the top gate closed. Dashiell arrived first followed by Emily helping Cora walk, two tiny hands raised and wrapped around her mothers fingers. The children are fully dressed but Emily is only in cotton panties and a tank top.

Elizabeth shrugged as Emily looked bewildered at the spread of food waiting to be chosen then cooked.

"I didn't know what you wanted so I made all your favourites."

Staring at the pancake batter a small smile cross her face "They've never had pancakes" she could never remember the recipe her mother used and Sir never brought them the pre-mix.

"Blueberry, banana or chocolate chip?"Julie points out each of the options. For once it wasn't a matter of being unable to choose, she wanted all of them.

"Yes please…"

10 minutes later Emily is seated on the floor, Cora in her lap and Dashiell facing her sharing a banana pancake. Between the three of them they polished off 5, Cora seemed to prefer the banana and Dashiell the blueberries. When the first drop of warm gooey chocolate hit Emily's tongue she groaned in delight.

Flipping her to do list over Elizabeth started to write down all of Emily's favourite meals. No matter what she had to do she would make sure the ingredients were available.

"Em… you love Tulumba* and Baclava* don't you?"

For the first time a real smile crosses her face.

Dave had chosen Quantico to interview Emily specifically for the more relaxed feel. The Hoover building or a police station were both busy bustling places and at 2pm there would be people everywhere, the academy itself was closed for the year so there were no cadets wandering round lunch would be finished and all the agents and staff would be back at the desks giving him a clear shot at getting Emily into one of the interview rooms without unnecessary contact with others.

They'd booked out one of the family rooms for the afternoon, and between the three of them worked out the best strategy.

Gideon would be observing from outside with Elizabeth, Katie would be in the room with them but not participating in the questioning, a female presence sitting by her side who would act as advocate not agent.

Dave was asking the questions. He'd spent hours the night before, pouring over Knights journals pinpointing the critical information they needed to get off Emily and then trying to work out how to get it. Dave knew without a doubt that this would just be the first of many sessions, there was so much information to go through, they had time. The federal prosecutor had already charged Knight with the attempted kidnapping of Dara Summers and between the evidence in the house and the bodies in the back yard they were looking at multiple counts of first degree murder. It was the charges regarding Emily that would be the hardest to work out because of the length of time she had been there.

At 1:45 he went down to the front desk to wait.

Five minutes later the four Prentiss' walked slowly through the doors, Dashiell asleep on Elizabeth's shoulder, Cora wide awake and walking with Emily's assistance.

Dave got them signed in and taken up to the interview room where they were introduced to Katie who took Emily inside while Dave spoke quietly to Elizabeth

None of them missed Emily testing the door to make sure it wasn't locked.

"She's dressed!" Dave smiled as he lead her into the observation area.

"Yeah, last night she wore only underwear to bed, breakfast was eaten on the kitchen floor in panties and a tank top which were taken off while she played with the children upstairs, she forgot the shirt but remembered to put the panties back on for lunch. My first goal is to keep her in underwear for a full 24 hours." Elizabeth filled him in on their day so far "You did warn Agent Cole about the clothes thing?"

"Katie's read the full case file. Agent Gideon" he nodded at the other man "will be observing with you out here, feel free to ask him anything. I'll be questioning Emily and Katie's only role in this is to support Emily, if Emily starts getting distressed we can stop and either take a break or finish up. This is one of our family rooms so all three will be comfortable, finally we're going to video each of our interviews with her to be transcribed into a witness statement. She'll just need to read and sign it. Any questions?"

Elizabeth shook her head and turned away from the men to watch her daughter and grandchildren through the glass.

"I'm not going to lie to you" Gideon stated quietly as Dave slipped out "this is going to be tough to listen to. He's going to need her to go into details that no mother should hear about things no daughter should experience."

"Do you know what would be harder?" Elizabeth shot back "Not getting her back at all or being told that her body was dug up in that monsters back yard with the rest of those poor girls... I want to go and knock on each of those parents doors I want to hug them and tell them how sorry I am that they couldn't get their daughter back to. I am going to go to the funerals and I'm going to mourn them for the rest of my life."

In the room Katie was attempting to engage the children but they were shyly clinging to Emily. Knowing they would open up in their own time Katie started talking to Emily trying to get a base line on her emotional reactions so she would know when to intervene.

After a few minutes Dave came into the room and sat down across from them.

His first few questions baffled Elizabeth as he asked her about how things had gone over night, what they had for breakfast, asking questions about her life before Knight had taken her things he already knew the answer to.

"He's building a baseline of truthful responses." Gideon was quick to explain.

"Do you believe she'd lie?" Elizabeth was not happy with the inference.

"Not lie but not be truthful either" Gideon didn't turn to look at Elizabeth "One of the first things Dave noticed is she's been conditioned to tell people what they want to hear, agree with them no matter what. Knight used environmental control as a punishment and reward. When she responded the way he wanted he opened the blinds and left the heat on. If she didn't he left her in the dark and cold. What she thinks and wants doesn't matter, she'll say anything to stop the heat and lights from being turned off. That's why we need the base line so we know when to reword a question to get an accurate response from her."

"The 'only if you want me to' response we've been getting." Elizabeth nodded her understanding.

"Emily, can you tell me about the day you met the man you call Sir."

"I woke up in my room, Sir was watching me. He kissed me then left. I don't know how long it was before he came back."

"Go back a little further, what was the last thing you did before meeting him."

Emily didn't respond straight away instead watched Dashiell playing with a truck.

"Maya Angelou" she finally responded "I had to do an essay on a modern poem of my choice for AP Lit. I picked 'A caged bird*' I went to the library to do some research cause I wanted to break down the linguistic and historical meanings of the words. I was curious about what would change if you used the traditional meanings versus the modern ones" she paused as Cora crawled up her body to lie against her "my dad had called the day before... he wanted to take me out to dinner but... I didn't think he'd show so I stayed at the library later than normal... it was already dark when I left... I was walking to the bus stop and then I was in my room with Sir."

Dave nodded and made a few notes.

"Can you tell me about the next time you saw Sir?"

And so it went, Dave slowly walking her through those first weeks. Sometimes she answered straight away sometimes she hesitated and sometimes she simply didn't answer.

Sensing her mothers stress Cora did the only thing she knew, cuddled up close and nursed. When the let down hit Emily's body was flooded with dopamine and oxytocin relaxing her.

They were 2 hours in when Dave asked the last question he had for that day.

"Emily, can you tell me about the first time Sir turned off the heat?"

Emily swallowed hard and glanced up at the two way mirror she knew her mother was on the other side of.

"I didn't know I wasn't allowed to say no..." She whispered "Sir was kissing me, he touched my breast, I didn't want him to so I said no. Sir got angry and left the room, he shut the blinds then the lights and the heat went out. It was so cold, but I still had a blanket and my clothes. I must have fallen asleep.

"and when you woke up?" Dave pushed her gently despite Katie's warning glance. Emily's hands had started shaking.

"It was warm again... my clothes we gone and he was in bed with me... my hands were cuffed. I tried to fight but I couldn't move... I couldn't get away... I told him to stop... and he said 'I own this body, I can do what I want, when I want to it'. He touched me, put his fingers inside me... I didn't like it... but I did... my... I..." she trailed off and looked at Katie pleadingly for help unable to voice the rest….

"Emily..." she kept her voice soft "did you get aroused when he touched you?"

Emily nodded "Sir made sure it always happened. He said it's not as much fun if I'm not wet."

"Emily..." Dave brought her attention back to him "what happened next?"

"Sir fucked me, I begged him to stop… it hurt so badly… I just wanted him to stop. Then he just left… I was tied to the bed… the lights went out and it got cold again…"

Out in the observation room Gideon turned to Elizabeth an unreadable look on his face.

"Your daughter is very brave... that being said you need to prepare yourself for her never recovering from her imprisonment. She may spend the rest of her life hiding away from the world with those children and you'll need to decide if they're not better off with a family who'll let them live in the real world."

"We'll stop there for today" Dave's voice echoed through the speaker.

"Agent Gideon... I appreciate you're an expert in the behaviour of serial killers but if you can't curb your negativity I don't want you anywhere near my daughter. It's barely been 48 hours, to make that judgement so soon just sets Emily up to fail."

She slipped out of the observation room and met Emily at the door to the interview room.

"Same time Friday?" Dave asked

"We'll be here." Elizabeth confirmed as she took Dashiell's hand and stated to walk away but Emily stood still her mind trying to work through something.

"Agent Rossi... he's in jail now isn't he?" She had suspected since the moment she looked up and saw Dave instead of Sir in her room.

"Yes he is" he confirmed

Emily nodded her head slowly and then turned and walked away.

When they arrived back at the house Emily hadn't spoken a word, she was trapped inside her own head.

She got out of the car, and slid past Julie who was waiting at the door. Made her way upstairs stripping her clothes off as she went. She walked into her room, slid under the covers and went to sleep.

Ignoring Emily for the moment Julie and Elizabeth pulled the kids out of the car and took them into the kitchen for an afternoon snack. Deciding to copy the way Emily fed them Elizabeth sat down on the floor fed Cora a banana while Dashiell snacked on an apple.

"I got the bed rails and mounted them up, tree is being delivered in the morning and Antony called wanting money for a new business venture, I told him you were in security meetings for the next two weeks and wouldn't be available. The lawyer called back he got you in front of a judge tomorrow morning. Dr Trewlynn is going to go to the courthouse with us after Emily's session, he's booked us a conference room so Emily can relax there with the kids while you do the boring part."

Both considered it a massive win when 15 minutes passed before either children asked for their mother.

Taking them upstairs she popped them on the bed with Emily and watched as they quickly burrowed under the blanket to snuggle.

Emily didn't leave her bed for the rest of the day… she let Elizabeth take Dashiell down for dinner but refused to come down herself or let Cora go.

Dr Trewlynn said to just leave her for the night and they would reassess in the morning if she didn't come down for breakfast.

Elizabeth had another sleepless night and when she woke up to check on them for the second time she gave in and slid into the bed wrapping her body around Emily's.

"I missed him…" a hoarse voice broke through the night "it was so dark and cold… i think I started to see and hear things… he always came back and after so long alone I looked forward to seeing him…"

Elizabeth pulled Emily tighter towards him.

"I didn't want to miss him…"

"I know"

Just before 7 Elizabeth slid out of the bed and left Emily sleeping soundly. 30 minutes later she was showered and dressed for the day, sticking her head in Emily's room the beds were once again empty and the shower running.

"Em, I'm going down to start breakfast come down when you're ready"

Like the previous day Emily didn't respond straight away but eventually and "Ok" floated out of the bathroom.

Looking through the cupboard and fridge she decided on oatmeal. Additions would be put out for Emily to chose from.

Brown sugar, bananas, several different types of berries, chocolate chips were laid out along with several smaller bowls instead of a large one. Every meal so far had been shared and in the grand scheme of things not something to worry about.

The rest of the morning was a repeat of the day before...

"Emily, your mother told you about going to court this afternoon... Do you understand why we're doing this?" All signs so far pointed to Emily not really caring about Elizabeth's application for Guardian ad litem over herself and the children.

All of Emily's focus was on Dashiell and the block tower they were building together. Her eyes flickered to Anita as she shrugged.

"Do you remember when we spoke the other day about the kids and how they'd need to see doctor's, and take swimming lessons, maybe join a playgroup and all of that needs someone to sign permission for? When the new baby comes they'll need vaccinations and check ups as well. Do you think you could do that?"

Emily's eyes widened in terror as she shook her head violently.

"Today we're going to talk to a judge and get your Mom permission to do all of that for the three of you. Over the next little while she can teach you what to do and how to manage it yourself. Same as your trust fund, the judge is going to make sure no one else can get to it while you learn how to deal with everything. Is that ok with you?"

"Mom won't take them away..." Emily stated confidently her eyes firmly on the children.

"No she won't" Anita confirmed. Elizabeth Prentiss was as dangerous as a poked bear right now, she would destroy anyone who even looked at Emily the wrong way.


Surprisingly Dave Rossi was waiting at the courthouse for them. He settled in the seat behind them while Elizabeth's attorney presented their requests.

"Dr Trewlynn are you declaring Emily mentally incompetent to manage her own affairs?"

"No your honour, you've twisted our words. She's emotionally unable to manage her own affairs and asking her to right now is not fair on her or the children. Making Elizabeth Prentiss their Guardian ad litem gives Emily the time and space she needs to heal and slowly take on these responsibilities as and when she is ready." Anita is firm.

"And is Emily aware of what you're all doing in here, essentially taking control of her life and has the possibility of placing the children in foster care while Emily heals been discussed?"

"Both Elizabeth and I discussed the guardianship with her your honour" Anita confirmed "What she took it to mean is she wouldn't have to make any decisions that would upset her former captor and the children stay with her. I considered short term hospitalisation for Emily while the children stayed with their grandmother and ultimately decided against it, from everything we've observed she is a patient and loving mother, she ensures they are clean, dressed, fed and loved. The only developmental milestone they've missed is socialisation which is already being rectified as they are exposed to new people and experiences. Emily did it all on her own, and to seperate them away now would cause unnecessary distress and be downright cruel."

The judge nodded slowly and looked at the nearly empty room. His gaze locked on Dave.

"And what is your interest in this?"

"Supervisory Special Agent David Rossi, your Honour" Dave stood "I'm the Unit Chief of the FBI's Behavioural Analysis Unit." he paused for a moment before explaining his presence.

"Nearly four years ago Emily Prentiss didn't come home from school. She stopped at the library to work on an essay and then disappeared. The police and her father rode her off as a teenage runaway but Elizabeth refused to accept that, she knew her daughter and knew that she wouldn't take off so she came to me. I started digging and I found 6 other girls within 3 hours driving distance with the same story. High academic achievers, sensible, responsible, caucasian, 16, brunette, brown eyes, one day they simply didn't come home. Their parents all said they wouldn't run away... the police found no evidence of foul play so their cases went cold. On Monday Damien Knight was arrested attempting to abduct 16 year old Dara Summers, when we searched his house we found Emily, Dashiell and Cora locked in the basement. Since then we've exhumed 11 bodies from his back yard, early this morning I received confirmation that the bodies of all 6 'run aways' were among them. I'm here because too many people gave up on those girls, Emily included. I can't do anything more for the others but I can make sure Emily has the support to get through to the other side, I can make sure she knows I will never give up on her."

"Thank you for your candor Agent Rossi" the judge acknowledged "Ambassador Prentiss you're also requesting I appoint an independent trustee to oversee an inheritance that Emily doesn't come into until next October..."

"Yes your Honour. If the guardianship is still in place when Emily turns 21 I get full access and control of the money. I don't want it or need it, I can easily support Emily and her children as long as necessary. I want to avoid any accusations that I am doing this for the money and to be completely blunt I want to ensure Emily's father cannot gain access to it either. Included in the applications are the details of two attempts Antony made to dissolve the trust while she was missing, an independent trustee will ensure that her inheritance is protected and there for her when she is ready."

He took another five minutes to flick through the paperwork Elizabeth had presented with her application.

"Before I approve this I'd like to meet Emily. I assume she's waiting outside?"

"I booked out one of the family rooms your honour" The attorney confirmed "A friend of the family is waiting with them." he paused as Elizabeth touched his elbow and whispered in his ear. He looked at her his eyes widening in surprise and nodded for Elizabeth to speak.

"A word of warning your honour, Emily is still nursing Cora and is not uncomfortable sitting topless. Dashiell does not nurse regularly but we've noticed that when he's feeling overwhelmed he will for comfort. Please do not be surprised if when faced with two men they have never met before the children seek comfort in that form."

None of them even considered the kneeling.

Emily was dozing on a large beanbag with both children asleep in with her when the door started to open. Reverting to instinct she had the children on the beanbag and herself on her knees eyes downcast before the judge even got through the door. Pushing past the judge Elizabeth kneeled in front of her and with a gentle hand tucked her hair behind her ear.

"Em... It's not Sir, you don't need to kneel..."

He watched silently as Elizabeth coxed Emily off her knees and got her settled back with the children.

He didn't miss the utter terror in her eyes when she glanced at him...

He'd seen enough, nodding to Dr Trewlynn he exited the room and went back to his courtroom. Once everyone else had joined him he started to speak.

"Given what this young lady has been through I'm hesitant to approve the emergency guardianship, at the same time I understand your reasons for seeking it and applaud your effort to do this in a way to avoid anything to implicate Emily as an unfit mother. I'm approving the order with two proviso's, firstly I want bi-monthly updates on Emily's progress. I understand she will have good day's and bad days but as she heals we should all be able to see regular changes in her management of her affairs. Secondly I will be asking DCSS to appoint a social worker to monitor the children's home life, I have no doubt they will be loved and well looked after in your home but an unbiased eye cannot hurt. Should, as you fear anyone try to use Emily's ordeal against her a District appointed social worker will be well placed to either refute or support any claim that the children are not being cared for. Unless something changes drastically we will revisit the issue in 6 months time."

"Finally I'm authorising the appointment of an independent trustee to oversee Emily's inheritance with the expectation that management be handed over to Emily either on her 21st birthday or the Guardian ad litem order is revoked, whichever comes last."

The next morning Emily didn't get out of bed.

When Elizabeth went to let her know breakfast was ready, she hadn't moved and didn't respond when she called out. Following the doctor's advise Elizabeth left her to get up in her own time.

Sitting down with the untouched decorations from 2 days previous Elizabeth busied herself untangling and checking the lights until Dashiell's voice echoed down the stairs.

"Maman… refkast?"

It takes her a moment to realise it's her he's calling out to. For some reason that they haven't worked out yet Emily is happy to let the little boy socialise as he pleases but keeps Cora close. Elizabeth has only held her granddaughter the once, it could be as simple as Cora being younger and clingier and as her pregnancy progresses she'll loosen her hold but Elizabeth suspects there is much more to it than that.

She gets the little boy dressed and downstairs with no sign of life from Emily, as Dashiell is messily inhaling a serving of scrambled eggs the sound of Emily throwing up can be heard clearly.

The morning sickness seems to be bouncing between slight nausea and severe vomiting. Julie had booked Emily in to see Elizabeth's OB/GYN the following week, she would bring it up then. Despite over 20 years passing since she'd been pregnant she still remembered what worked for her. Slicing up a banana and throwing it into a bowl with a handful of cheerios, she grabbed some unbuttered toast and headed upstairs with Dashiell on her heals. There was a big difference between Emily not wanting to come down and being too sick to.

Leaving the food on the side table she sat down on the bed and pulled the covers down just enough to see Emily's pale and sweaty face.

"There's dry toast for you, fruit and cheerios for Cora… let me know if you need me to take her for a while."

"Can you feed her please…" tired eyes slid shut.

"Sure… come here sweet girl." she holds her hands out with a big smile and is delighted when the girl wiggles out from under the blanket and crawls awkwardly over her mothers blanket covered body. "We'll be in the playroom"

Cora lasts nearly 30 minutes before she starts fussing for Emily and the two of them spend rest of the morning curled up in bed.

She calls Dave to warn him they might not make it today, he's flexible and tell's her to call him when she knows for sure.

Just after one Emily finally makes it out of bed and drags herself to the car for the drive south.

While she wouldn't qualify the interview as a complete disaster it's close and Katie terminates it 20 minutes in when Emily attempts to describe the first time he'd shaved her and gets so upset she starts to throw up again.

Elizabeth doesn't miss the tears pricking Dave and Katie's eyes.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams

his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream

his wings are clipped and his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.


2006

She left Hotch's office practically walking on air after he agreed to trial her in the unit, the first thing she does is call Dave almost squealing in excitement. Her second call is to her mother and Julie, the third is to Anita Trewlynn.

At Dave's insistence he takes her, Cora and Skylar out for dinner that night.

The next morning she's setting up her desk and Agent Gideon is walking past as she's putting up a photo her mother had taken that September. It was the day they'd moved Dashiell into the dorms at Yale, the four of them are sitting in the sun smiling happily Skylar leaning back against Emily's chest, Dashiell and Cora on either side arms around her shoulders, dark hair mingling together.

A man and a woman walk up and introduce themselves as Agent Derek Morgan and Technical Analyst Penelope Garcia. They both see the photo in her hands and ask about her kids.

Gideon watches from his office and knows she made it this far partially due to Elizabeth Prentiss' grit and determination but mostly it was Emily's own innate stubbornness and desire to succeed.

3 hours later he takes her to Gitmo. They don't have a chance to talk, they're too focused on the case and he senses that she won't talk in front of Spencer.

On the way home Spencer is napping and Gideon takes the opportunity to talk over a chess game.

"What's happening with the girls while you're on cases?"

"Do you remember Dara Summers?" He does "She moved to DC when she got into Georgetown and never left the city, we're good friends and she and Dave are keeping an eye on them for me."

"I didn't think you'd make it this far" he admits.

"Most people didn't… my mother, Julie, Dave and Anita… not once did they give up on me."


1991

The judge looks across at Emily Prentiss sitting opposite him in his chambers and smiles proudly.

7 months since he'd given Elizabeth guardianship over Emily and her children and the 20 year old had progressed faster than any of them expected.

The reports from Anita Trewlynn and the social worker all agreed that while she was doing well she wasn't ready for everything to be dumped on her yet. He wanted to make sure Emily agreed.

'Easily manipulated' was a phrase they both used. The bad days were now few and far between but when they hit they were brutal for the whole family. Dave Rossi was still trying to get her full statement so the prosecutor could lay complete charges against Damian Knight for what he'd done to Emily. Antony Prentiss had turned up at the end of January and attempted to get the court orders changed to give him guardianship of Emily and control of the trust, the resulting fight had done a lot of damage and reversed nearly all of the progress she had made.

The judge had initially been furious when Elizabeth's attorney had called the morning of the original hearing date and requested additional time before Emily's re-evaluation, the message citing a medical emergency. The social worker had received the same message and Dr Trewlynn was unavailable. A quick call to Dave revealed the day before Emily had gone into labour 4 weeks early and given birth to a girl. Skylar Prentiss was tiny but strong and had now been home from hospital for over two weeks. This birth had been in a hospital, surrounded by medical professionals, her mother holding her hand. 5 pound 2 ounces at birth the tiny girl was perfectly healthy if a little impatient.

The baby was nestled comfortably in a sling against her mothers chest while Elizabeth entertained the older two in the background letting Emily speak for herself.

"I'm getting there… having Skylar has helped because I get to make all the choices I couldn't with the other two. I picked out her bassinet, I got to go shopping for her clothes, I'm choosing to nurse her because I want to and not because I know she'll starve to death if I don't." Emily spoke shyly at first.

The judge is horrified by what she's just admitted to him but doesn't let it show.

"I've started working on getting my GED… I'm hoping to go to college. I've got an advisor and he said my grades are good enough to get me into Georgetown. Maybe fall next year… we'll see."

She perks up "I got my license, Mom's going to sell me the jeep… and we've booked Dashiell into pre-school two days a week starting in September."

They chat for a while and he's impressed with her intelligence and self-awareness. When he'd met with Dr Trewlynn earlier he'd voiced a concern that Emily would stall in her progress sometime soon. The doctor agreed and also admitted there were some things she was holding back and they were still finding and working through triggers.

"Emily, I'm going to suggest something to you that I want to hear your thoughts on."

She nods slowly.

"I'm wondering what you'd think of me reversing the guardianship order on you but leaving the one for the children in place for the time being?"

He waits patiently as she considers his suggestion choosing not to qualify a timeline or how it would all work.

She opens her mouth to speak when Skylar starts to fuss, she turns her attention to the baby and quickly gets her latched on to feed.

"How would it work?" Emily asks wanting more information.

"It means your mother would no longer need to sign off on anything you wish to do. For example she would have needed to sign off on your classes for your GED, when you start back in September you don't need her to go with you. By leaving things in place for the children for now you can get comfortable managing everything for yourself without worrying about keeping up with everything for them. Then in say 6 months time we sit down again just like this and if everything is going well and your coping we'll talk about removing the guardianship order on the children."

He watches her carefully as she rolls the new information over in her head, bottom lip firmly between her teeth.

"Can I add my own proviso's?"

"You can most certainly make suggestions and requests for us to discuss and work with." This was the response he and Dr Trewlynn had been hoping for.

"Assuming everything goes well between now and January do you think it would be a good idea to set up either some kind of joint custody or maybe start with Cora and then Skylar and Dashiell later on?"

The judge didn't miss Elizabeth's head shoot up and the concerned look on her face at the order she named the children in. He'd expected her to name the baby first, then the two older ones.

"We can definitely look at those options. Emily, at the end of the day we're moving at your pace. The healing process takes time and none of us will ask you to take on more than you're ready for."

"I've been sitting down with Mr Barns and Julie once a week going over my trust and everything involved and I know I'm not going to be ready to manage it myself in October Removing the guardianship order means I'll have the trust to worry about as well…"

Peter Barns was a respected inheritance lawyer who after making more money than he knew what to do with, spent most of his time overseeing the trusts of various minors as a court appointed independent trustee, much like he was doing for Emily. He'd built a reputation of being a bulldog when it came to protecting his young clients interests and making sure they knew how to manage their money properly. He'd contacted Elizabeth in January and asked to meet with Emily who refused at the time. Her father had just turned up and was causing problems… it was all too much for her… by April she was ready and Elizabeth had refused to be involved, as she'd always planned Julie had taken Emily and Cora down to meet with the trustee while Elizabeth stayed with Dashiell.

"Have you asked Peter for any suggestions on what you should do when you do gain control?" He could see the surprise written all over her face at the suggestion. He suspected no one expected her to be here yet.


Dave sighed, two day's before they'd finally finished getting Emily's statement.

Happy 21st birthday…

The stack of papers sitting in front of him was the mostly complete statement. From reading the journals Dave knew there were several things she hadn't brought up and based on her body language she'd either blocked them out or couldn't face verbalising them. He'd didn't want to push her but they needed everything so the prosecutor could lay the final charges.

He'd called Anita Trewlynn who without breaking Emily's confidence confirmed she couldn't get her to open up about them either.

One in particular thing was a big concern for Anita and Elizabeth.

Emily still clung to Cora.

Now fully licensed Emily drove herself to and from Quantico, when Elizabeth was available Dashiell was left with her, Skylar was still nursing and Emily wouldn't express. Cora was never left behind, Emily kept the 22 month old with her as much as possible, to the point she'd asked if the toddler could stay in the hospital with her when Skylar was born.

When she arrived today she didn't know Anita and Elizabeth would already be there. Anita was going to sit in on the interview while Dave pushed her to talk about what she was hiding.

Once they got settled Dave handed over a copy of her statement so far and started prompting her to go to different sections, answer the emotionally charged questions they hadn't asked the first time around.

Fifteen minutes in Katie knocked on the door.

"I thought I'd take Dashiell to get a snack…"

Knowing he was safe with Katie in Quantico Emily smiled weakly and nodded.

Completely unplanned Skylar started crying 20 minutes later… a quick check revealed the baby needed her diaper changed. Before Emily could do anything Katie was in the room taking the baby out to Elizabeth.

"I'll take care of it for you."

She didn't even get a chance to protest before they were gone.

"Emily…" Dave drew her attention back to the statement "Page 83. You said that Knight refused to bring baby formula. Can you expand on that for me please?"

"Ummm…" Emily swallowed her eyes on the door Katie had just gone through "Dashiell was a baby, Knight was curious about just how much milk he could get out of me… he only did it the once but he tied me up and expressed all of the milk I had, when it returned he'd do it again. When it was time to feed Dashiell he'd let me down, the third or fourth time… he said if I can't feed the baby myself then the baby wouldn't be eating at all 'It's a good thing you're body works as advertised cause I'm never buying formula' he said"

"If your milk hadn't come in after giving birth?" Dave asks

"Dashiell would have starved to death"

His questions continue and she starts to relax back into them, still worried about Dashiell and Skylar but focused on him.

In the background Cora played happily with the dolls Emily had brought with them.

He's down to the final question when Katie comes in for a 3rd time.

"I thought I'd take Cora out to join the others…" she says as she scoops the toddler up with a big smile.

"No!" Emily snaps "She stays here."

Katie walks towards the door "We'll just be outside playing."

"I said she stays with me." Emily starts to stand but Anita reaches up and grabs her arm.

"Why does she need to stay, Emily?" She asks softly diverting the brunettes attention just long enough for Katie to slip outside.

"She just does…" Emily stares at the closed door.

"Page 169" Dave interjects softly and reads from the statement "'Cora was really young, it was only the 3rd or 4th time Sir took me to the other room after her birth. He left me on the cross and then opened the door. I'd left Dashiell and Cora in the crib asleep and I could hear them. Cora started to fuss, it was time to feed her and Sir normally let me go to feed the baby. He didn't this time, she cried and cried and cried… I could hear it she was so hungry and I just wanted to get to her… I begged him to let me feed her….' we had to stop there, what did Knight do after you asked him to let you feed Cora?"

She doesn't respond, still staring at the closed door, breath speeding up, complexion bloodless.

"Emily, we need to know what happened after that" Dave pushed her

"No…please not that" tears spill out of her eyes and cut down her cheeks… she doesn't want to remember.

"Come on Emily, just tell me what he said…" Dave let's his voice raise just enough to push her over the edge.

His tone startles her enough so she stands quickly knocking the chair over and backs away until she hits the wall. Sliding down it, her head drops to her knees as she sucks in air that just won't come easy enough.

"He told me never to beg again…" she chokes out

"What else?" Dave's voice feels too close.

"He'd said he'd go and get her…" she's nearly hysterical, tugging on her hair the way he used to, the pain sending her right back to that moment in that room "'the next time you beg I'll bring it in here and snap it's neck, I'll tie its dead body to you, leave you right there so you can feel your baby decomposing all because you thought you could ask for something…you'll be stuck there listening to the other one scream as it starves to death and then I'll let you down and start all over again and every baby you birth after that… when it's half way out I'll snap it's neck to"

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.


*Tulumba: a popular dessert found in the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire. It is a fried batter soaked in syrup, similar to jalebis and churros

*Baclava: a rich, sweet dessert pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup or honey

*The Enchanted Wood: The first book in a series of children's books by Enid Blyton

 

Chapter Text

2007

For some reason she never told the rest of team she was friends with David Rossi. She didn't mean to hide it, it just never came up and it's obvious it's slipped Hotch's mind when he'd introduces them.

"SSA David Rossi, this is SSA Emily Prentiss"

"Sir." She smirked as she held out her hand, that she can use the title without having a meltdown still baffles him. Grabbing her hand he pulled her into a hug.

"Hey kiddo… it's been too long.

"Yeah… a whole three days!" she laughs.

When he lets her go, there's confusion on the rest of the teams faces, except for Hotch who is staring at them in realisation. In the beginning he'd tried not dwell on Emily's ordeal... in the first few weeks he'd made a concerted effort to ignore the little voice in the back of his head shouting 'she's a victim get her out of here' and sometime between dead prostitutes in DC and teen boys in Chicago it had all become secondary to the work she was doing and the way she was finding her place within the team.

"I met Elizabeth when you were what? 16?" They'd never needed a cover story for how they knew each other... Dave figured a whitewashed version on the truth was best.

"Yeah but it was another couple of years before we managed to cross paths." the team picks up on the undercurrent of their words and interactions but shrug it off as them being long time friends and nothing more.

Working with Dave was amazing and frustrating… she'd always known he liked things just so but seeing him work took it to a whole new level.

Dave watched her like a hawk while they were in Great Falls. She'd been doing this long enough to have a pretty solid coping mechanism, while Dave slipped back into the professional aspect easily he struggled to separate Agent Prentiss from Emily the traumatised young woman.

He heard how she got the wife talking with that innate kindness and empathy that Knight couldn't strip away. Finding the roses, understanding the significance of the different heights in a way the rest of the team couldn't comprehend.

Standing in the bedroom… he nearly flashed back to that basement… for a moment he would swear someone was kneeling at his feet.

Comforting Jennifer Hillbridge and holding a steady hand to her blood soaked neck.

Dave wonders if the others will ever know what drove her here. Why she doesn't flinch when looking into the abyss. Will Emily ever tell them that she lived there for years and clawed her way out... inch by bitter inch.

They're on their way to Fredricksburg when his phone beeps with in incoming text message.

'Should I be grateful that Knight didn't leave any physical scars?'

It takes him a long time to formulate a reply.

'Never be grateful for the way you suffered'

Talking to Karen Foley is her worst nightmare, the son she's struggled to raise alone and the reality that he might be his fathers son after all. She hates having to push her, rip open the wound that like hers never truly healed.

She calls Dashiell that night, asks about his day. Fall's asleep to the sound of her boy's laughing voice.

Mary Wilkinson's complete and utter conviction when she admitted to killing her husband is something she understands as well.

She calls Anita as soon as she gets home, and gets in for an emergency session.

The following Saturday she gets in her car and drives back down to Fredricksburg and knocks on Karen Foley's door. The anger and bitterness on the older woman's face doesn't shake her resolve.

She holds up a photo of Dashiell for Karen to see through the screen door.

"When I was 16 a man named Damian Knight grabbed me off the street. He held me captive for a little under 4 years, my son and my oldest daughter were born in his basement, my younger daughter born 6 months after I was rescued. I am terrified that one day I'm going to be faced with the possibility that no matter how hard I tried Dashiell is his fathers son."

Karen's breathing speeds up and she opens the screen door letting Emily into her house.

The utter relief... finally finding someone who understands.


May 1992

Elizabeth sat in the back of the courtroom with Dara Summers' parents. In the row in front of them sat the parents of all but two of the girls buried in Knights backyard.

They still hadn't been able to identify those last two girls… Elizabeth had paid for the burials and visited regularly.

Their tombstones simply said 'A beloved daughter'

They were about to start opening arguments and much to Elizabeth's relief the prosecutor had convinced the judge to allow Emily anonymity when testifying. The basic argument being Emily's right to privacy out weighed the public's right to know. They all knew the real reason the judge granted their request was the children. If Emily couldn't be identified then neither could her children allowing them to grow up without the stigma of being the child of a serial killer.

The prosecutor had scheduled Emily to testify last solely for the impact it would have on the jury. They'd spent day's refining her answers and preparing her for the defenses questions. They'd even brought in a former defense attorney to ask her every brutal question he could, twist her story and words around to get her off balance and unable to respond properly.

"13 teenage girls" he pauses to let the number sink in "11 dead... 1 held captive and locked away from the world for nearly four years and 1 who escaped thanks to good men who stopped the attempted abduction. Smart, sensible, hard working girls who were snatched off the street before they had a chance to reach their full potential. You are going to hear some pretty disturbing things, I'll be honest with you, I cried when I read what Damian Knight did to these girls… the way he tortured and brutalised them is downright inhumane. We have proof... we have his own words... we have their bodies buried in his backyard and we have a survivor who can testify to the fact that the journals weren't just a fantasy they're an accounting of what he did..."

A plea deal was on the table. All of the parents had been consulted and had agreed.

Plead guilty, help them identify the final two girls for life in prison, no chance of parole… no death penalty. Knight had until Emily took the stand to accept it.

The days that follow are filled with testimony from Dave, the police who searched the house, the coroner who identified the bodies, the cop who arrested Knight, the businessman who witnessed the abduction attempt in Wilmington.

Dara Summer's testimony was short, the defense didn't even question her.

Anita and Dave had both cleared their schedules for the day's Emily would be on the stand while Julie stayed with the children.

Like when Dave took her statement the prosecutor asked open questions and let Emily tell her story.

"Can you tell us what happened the evening of February 2nd 1987?"

Those first months of mind games, using light and heat to condition her to obey.

The punishment for saying no.

Striping her of all dignity and modesty, taking her clothes.

Realising she was pregnant.

Giving birth alone, having to learn everything by trial and error and only having her instincts to guide her. He reads excepts from the journal entitled 'Alla' and has her confirm that yes he did all of that to her. Knight pushed her to the point where she craved his company, making her so terrified of being left in the cold and dark she was willing to do anything he ordered her to.

When she gets off the stand, they've covered the first two years... she's exhausted, mentally and emotionally wrung out. When they get home she chokes down the grilled cheese Julie puts in front of her and crawls into bed.

The next day is the final two years of her imprisonment, it's a Friday and the judge dismisses for the weekend when the prosecution finishes with Emily's testimony. On Monday it will be the defenses turn... all of them are dreading it.

Emily spends 15 minutes talking with Anita, the psychiatrist making sure she'll be ok over the weekend before they sneak out a side entrance where Julie is waiting with the kids and Emily's jeep. Seeing bags packed for a weekend away Emily looks at her mother askew.

"I thought we could use an escape" Elizabeth grins.

They head south of the city and by the time they're going through Fredricksburg only Elizabeth is awake. They stop for dinner outside Richmond and just after 9pm they're pulling into a beach house a colleague of Elizabeth's owns in Kitty Hawk on the North Carolina coast. The sound of the waves and clean sea air lull them all back to sleep quickly.

Elizabeth is the last to wake the next morning just as the sun is rising. The house is empty and there's a note by the bubbling coffee maker.

'Watching the sun rise - E, D, C, S'

She pours two cups of coffee, grabs her camera and heads out to the beach hoping they haven't wandered too far. Sitting on a sand dune facing away from her Emily is silhouetted by the sun, Dashiell and Cora on either side, Skylar standing between Emily's legs pointing off in the distance.

It's the most beautiful thing she's ever seen.

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.


2008

It only takes two bodies for Garcia to make the connection and bring it to the teams attention.

A 16 year old had gone missing from Wilmington on her way home from school. 4 weeks later in the middle of the night her body was dumped, left on the front lawn of the house Missy Carlisle grew up in in Baltimore.

3 days after that a girl goes missing from Baltimore, Garcia see's the police report when her body is dumped at Tara Ambrose' house.

She presents the case to the team and doesn't miss Emily going paler than normal. She assumes it's because at first glance she's showing pictures of 16 year old Skylar Prentiss.

"Here's the uber creepy part…" Garcia continues her body shuddering "house number one in Baltimore was the childhood home of Missy Carlisle, house number 2 was the childhood home of Tara Ambrose" she pulled up the final school portraits of them "Missy went missing in 1982, Tara in 1983, they were victims 1 and 2 of…"

"Damian Lucas Knight" Rossi finished his voice rough as he swallows heavily not daring to look at Emily.

"Yeah, I pulled the case file…"

She briefs the team on the original abductions and murders, they throw out ideas before splitting up, Hotch keeps Emily back in the BAU to work victimology.

"You understand why you can't be in the field on this one?" he asks quietly once everyone else has left the conference room.

"Hotch…" she's still pale, her hands are shaking and there's are darkness in her eyes he's never seen before "I suspected Gideon told you…" her eyes drifted up to the pictures on the board and she absently makes a note to one day thank him for his discretion "I had a flashback when Missy and Tara's photo's appeared… you might need to take me off the case all together."

"Gideon gave me your victim statement, he said you'd either be an unmitigated disaster or your perspective and experience would be irreplaceably unique. You'd already proved him wrong and he wasn't going to underestimate you again. I'm not going to underestimate you now, if you need to step back I'll support you and if you need to stay and see this through I'll support you."

"I need to make a phone call…"

An hour later she stuck her head in his office "I'll stay and do victimology for today but I won't be in again until the team is no longer working this case." Anita had told her to get off the case... if she'd already had one flashback more would follow and the last thing she needed was to have a meltdown forcing Hotch to intervene and remove her. She can trust her team with saving these girls... she has to trust them because right now she can't trust herself.

He calls Dave that evening unsure of what to tell the rest of the team when Emily isn't there the next day.

Eventually they decide to tell them nothing. Emily's taking some leave and will be back soon. Neither voice it but it's only a matter of time before someone puts it all together or Emily gives them permission to tell the team.


1992

The weekend away had been good for Emily, Saturday had been warm and sunny. The smiles and laughs as they splashed in the ocean together was what they all needed. Elizabeth holding tight to Skylar dipping her tiny feet into the water as Emily chases Dashiell and Cora in and out of the waves. All three of them laughing and screaming in happiness.

Emily is well rested and centered when she faced the defenses cross examination.

The expected a brutal cross examination didn't come.

He didn't try to paint Emily as unstable, he didn't try to twist her words around or use her submission against her.

Years later Emily would find out he'd pushed Knight to take the deal. The evidence against him was too strong and Emily's testimony couldn't be refuted as the journals supported her version of events. He would never be able to be accused of not giving Knight a vigorous defense, there was simply nothing for him to work with.

There was no alternate explanation to be found, but Knights narcissism wouldn't let him take the deal. He honestly believed his Alla wouldn't take the stand against him. In his eyes she still belonged to him, he owned her body and soul and she would never turn on him. She would never be able to look him in the eye and tell her story.

He was wrong. In rebuilding her life Emily was developing a strength and sense of self that was solid and unshakable.

The jury came back with a guilty verdict, in early August she was back in the courtroom for the sentencing hearing. Her victim impact statement in her clammy shaking hand.

Ellen Summers stood and spoke on behalf of Dara. It was short, but heartfelt.

Tony Carlisle spoke on behalf of the rest of the parents.

"10 years ago I kissed my daughter Missy goodbye as I left for work. She was excited about debate that afternoon, she'd spent hours working on her arguments around the pro's of a universal health care system. Apparently she won… but she never got to tell us because she never made it home. Missy wanted to go to Berkley and then go into social work. She was a protector, always standing up for those weaker than her. She once got sent to the principals office for punching a boy who slapped the backside of a freshman girl. I listen to the stories about the other girls and I think… these are the types of girls my Missy would be friends with. Strong, smart, loving girls who were going to change someones world. They never got that chance…"

Finally it was Emily's turn…

"None of the doors in our house close or lock" she starts "There are days the mere thought of putting clothes on sends me into a panic attack, I don't leave the house after dark, I always leave a light on and I've never been on a real date, I'm 21 years old and I've given birth to 3 beautiful children who, a part of me wishes didn't have to exist. I love my kids with everything I have but the only reason they exist is I was captured, I was held against my will and forced into sexual slavery. I was stolen from my life and put into a role I didn't want, I was tied down, I was raped, I was deprived of clothes, at times I was deprived of heat and light." she took a deep and shuddering breath.

"I should be starting my senior year at college, I was trying to get into Yale. I never got to go to Prom, take my SAT's, sign my friends senior year books, live in the dorms… go to a frat party. I'm finding a new normal, learning to exist with the hand I've been dealt but every day is a struggle. How to I explain to my children where they came from, who fathered them? How do I build a normal healthy relationship with a man? How do I go to college or hold down a job when I'm terrified of every male I meet? The only reason I am standing here today is because on the bad day's my mother carries me, Agent Rossi pushes me forward when I'm too scared to take a step on my own, Dr Trewlynn spends hours finding and working through the minefield that my head is and the families sitting behind me cheer me on. They want to see me succeed because they'll never see their own daughters do it… I want to succeed for myself and my children. 4 months ago I completed my GED and in two weeks time I start my freshman year at Georgetown. I'm learning to live again. Damien Lucas Knight stole things from me that I will never be able to get back. He tried to destroy me… he failed. He did destroy Missy Carlisle, Tara Ambrose, Melanie Spears, Laura Schubert, Marcie Turner, Carolyn Beddington, Tiffany Matheson, Allison Smith, Sophie Granger, Ellie Trent, Maria Delazio and two girls who we can't give true justice to because we don't know their names. These girls lives are might have beens. They will never get the chance I have… to live… in the words of Kurt Vonnegut 'Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, "It might have been."' Thank you."

As she fell into the seat strong arms wrapped around her from behind and Conchetta Delazio whispered in her ear "My Maria would love you…"

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops,

Weakened by my soulful cries?


2008

There was a message on her machine when she got home. Ted Ambrose's panicked voice echoed through.

"Emily, I don't know what's going on but this morning I went to get the paper…"

She didn't call him back but sent a text telling him she knew and she knew the team working on it.


"Prentiss won't be joining us today… let's start." the team looks at each other confused, Emily would never duck out on a case like this.

"Both girls necks were snapped, even if they died by some other means Knight still snapped every one of his dead victims necks, there's evidence of repeated sexual assault but no serious torture" Morgan started

"Sex can be it's own form of torture" Rossi commented absently, eyes firmly on his notebook as he jotted down thoughts as they came to him.

"I think we need to bring in Knight's two surviving victims" he ignored the older man.

"Their identities are protected, the judge ordered their names be removed from court documents and all official FBI files are redacted" Rossi informed him.

"You worked the original case" Reid jumped in "surely you'd have their names somewhere." something had been bugging him about the file he read, if Morgan could convince Rossi to bring the women in maybe he'd be able to work it out.

"I do, I know where they are now and no I won't ask them to come in or tell you who they are."

"Rossi, they might know something…"

"They don't."

"How do you know? It's been 16 years, there might be details they didn't remember at the time that could help us now." Morgan wasn't going to let this go.

"There isn't" he sat back completely unflappable as the rest of the team watched the back and forth. "The victim from Wilmington was with him for two minutes. He was arrested while pulling her into his van. I spent 10 months working with the 87 victim, read her statement and the journals. She has nothing to add to this and bringing her in… she's worked damn hard to get past it, to get where she is today. I won't let anyone dredge this up."

Morgan paused... he didn't really want to talk to the Wilmington victim... it was the other he wanted to speak to but he knew Rossi wasn't going to budge and decided to back off for now. He had another way.

He was headed off to check out Knights old house in Bethesda and called Garcia from the car. It took some work and guilt tripping but she finally agreed to hack the court transcripts.

Garcia's breath quickened and tears sprang to her eyes when she read the witness list. She didn't know what to do… this was too big for her to even comprehend. It was too much, pushing herself back from her desk Garcia stood and rushed out of her lair as fast as she could.

She turned the corner and ran straight into the man she was looking for. Rossi grabbed her arms to steady her and immediately noticed how distressed she was.

"Morgan got you to break into the sealed files?" he asked.

"I'm sorry… he said you were too close… he wants to check out the son…" she choked on the word son. She'd met Dashiell the previous Christmas... and Cora and Skylar they were all good kids, so much like their mother.

"Leave it with me… go back to the other searches."

Rossi hugged her and then started to walk away.

"Sir?" he turned back "how do I look at her now… knowing what happened?"

"How did you look at her yesterday?" he asks.

"Like she was the kick-ass crime fighting indestructible mommy of the year…"

"She's still all of those things… maybe a little bit more kick-ass and indestructible." Garcia nodded through the tears and wrung her hands as she watched him walk away.

Emily Prentiss wasn't a victim...

He followed Morgan to the house in Bethesda. It had changed hands a few times and was currently sitting empty while a developer got permission to knock it down and put up townhouses. He was only 20 minutes behind Morgan who was meeting the developer who agreed to let him in.

Walking down the basement stairs Rossi couldn't suppress the shiver that ran down his spine. 11 girls died in this room.

"The St Andrew's cross was against that wall, the stocks in the middle of the room." he pointed as Morgan spun around "and through that door is the room she was kept in. He could heat it to 120 and cool it to 38 degrees. The glass opaque, she could see out but no one could see in. The block out blinds controlled from a switch out here, when they were closed and when the lights were off you couldn't even see the hand in front of your face."

"Garcia told you?" he rolled his eyes, he should have known.

"She came to find me when she saw the court transcripts. You want to look at the son?" he leaned back against the cinder block wall "I get why, I mean look at Charlie Wilkinson. It's a valid line of questioning and if you'd asked me I would have handed over the file I've kept on him since the day I met him."

Morgan's eyes shot up in surprise but he automatically assumed Rossi was too close to watch the boy objectively.

"Did you really think I hadn't already considered it? Years ago we started observing him, with his sisters, at little league games. I watched that boy closely, went to his birthday parties, I chaperoned his school dances and watched how he interacted with girls and classmates. When his sister turned 16 I spent night after night sitting outside his bedroom with his terrified mother watching, hoping and praying that he wasn't his fathers son. Do you or don't you trust me to spot the signs of a budding psychopath? What about Katie Cole, she watched from a distance verified everything I was seeing, kept me in check. Do you trust Katie's judgement?"

"Why are you so protective of her man?" Morgan really didn't understand why he'd go to such lengths.

Rossi studies him for a moment "I spent three and a half years looking for her. Then one day I get a call from Wilmington they'd arrested Knight trying to grab a girl that met my victim type, I come down these stairs to a door, it's sound proofed and locked from the outside. I go through the door and see a room built for a serious B/D relationship, if that's the way you swing no problem but this place just felt wrong… it still does. I see another door, locked from the outside and some serious soundproofing on it. When I open the door at first I think I'm hallucinating when I hear babies crying and then I see her. Naked, bruised, sick, terrified, before I have a chance to say anything she throws herself at my feet... kneeling the way he had conditioned her to. I watched her struggle and fight for years. Her mother needed to get legal guardianship over all three of them because she couldn't even decide to put clothes on. She needed to be told and now… she's magnificent. I sat with her as she opened her acceptance to Georgetown, I went to her graduation, I went to her sons and I'm going to her daughters high school graduation… I wrote the recommendation that got her into the FBI academy."

"She's an agent…" Morgan couldn't keep the shock off his face.

"one of the absolute best, bringing this up now… identifying her risks everything she's spent the last 16 years working for. That's what I'm protecting, the good life she's built."


The girls were not going to be happy but she needed to get them all out of the city. The shit was going to fly and Emily didn't want her kids anywhere near it.

Going up to the bedrooms she quickly packed enough clothes to last them all a week, shoved a whole bunch of food from the fridge and cupboard into the cooler, packed it all into the car and drove to the girls school.

"Family emergency" she lied to the administration as she signed Cora and Skylar out "Hopefully they'll be back next week sometime. I'll call and confirm"

They were heading south out of the city when Skylar finally spoke from the backseat.

"Mom, what's going on?"

"I've got a couple of days off and thought it'd be nice to get out of the city... head down to Kitty Hawk" Emily and Elizabeth had gone halves on a beach house down the road from where they stayed in 1992.

Neither girl missed the blood lining her left thumb as she picked at the nail.

Pulling out their phones they made sure they were on silent, Cora texting Dave and Skylar Dashiell.

'Why is Mom off work? She's taking us down to Kitty Hawk.'

'Mom just pulled us out of school and we're going down to the beach house.'

Dashiell responded straight away

'I know, I'm flying down after my last class today. No idea why'

The second Dave got Cora's text message he knew what Emily was doing. She'd called him the night before and they both knew they wouldn't be able to keep her connection to Damian Knight from the team for very long, Garcia knew, it was only a matter of time before she slipped and gave Morgan enough information and it wouldn't surprise him if Reid had already put some of the pieces together. He'd seen the look of confusion when the genius connected the kids birthdays.

Emily was hiding the kids from the teams initial reactions.

'Bad case, she's fine' he sent back.

Based on the original timeline and the coroners reports from 1990 the third girl Knight took was one they had never identified. They had no idea where the next victim would be taken from or where the body would be dumped. If their UnSub continued with the pattern they had four weeks before he killed her, he suspected their guy was going to devolve pretty quickly.

He sat for two hours going over everything they had from the original murders and the new ones and there were several stark differences.

The only two victims Knight had kept alive for less than 3 months were Ellie Trent and Maria Delazzio. The girls he'd grabbed on the day's Dashiell and Cora were born. He'd made it clear in their journals they weren't needed once Emily healed from giving birth so he'd killed them after 6 weeks. The coroner estimated the other girls were alive for anywhere from 3 to 10 months.

Knight kept their bodies, they were his trophies. He could sit on his back porch and see where they were buried. Watch the flowers grow from their graves. This guy obviously had other trophies.

Knight took his time, let the girls get comfortable used psychological games to wear them down.

He also had an ideal in mind, the perfect partner... when he couldn't find a willing woman he turned to the teens in an attempt to create her. When asked why 16 year olds the monster had smiled and said "16 is perfect. Their bodies fully developed, physically they're women but their minds are malleable. Their frontal lobe not quite finished developing, they're still learning to define between good, bad and no choices, still learning to suppress socially unacceptable responses. Given enough time and the right motivation, the only choices they made were to obey and there was no social construct left for them to adhere to".

Knight never worked out why Emily submitted so quickly but he and Elizabeth did. Emily was stubborn and strong willed even as a child, but she was also empathetic to the point of being easily used by others. Trusting... no matter how many times people betrayed her she never saw it coming. Always willing to give someone a second chance and the benefit of the doubt.

Time and again her father didn't show up when promised and she was surprised every single time, in the few months before she went missing she was just starting to realise he was never going to change. As much as Elizabeth loved her daughter, Emily's childhood had been anything but stable, dragged from posting to posting, too many nights sleeping the office couch while Elizabeth worked and as she got older not enough supervision and resentment at the lifestyle was festering.

Knight had unknowingly exploited the deep set desire for consistency.

She trusted in what she had been taught as a child, don't try to bargain or barter your way out, don't threaten or fight. Hold tight, do what you need to do to stay alive and wait for rescue.

Submitting to Knight was not a conscious choice, she never once thought 'if I just do what he tells me I'm not going to die'. It was the sub-conscious part trusting in that lesson drilled into her from five years old.

Do what you need to do to stay alive and wait for rescue.

It took longer than ever anticipated but she survived and she'd been rescued.

His phone buzzed again 'Show the team the final interview, make sure they know the kids have no idea what happened.'

He sighed and went into Hotch's office, showed him the message and went to get the footage of Emily's interview. They'd need to see this for themselves.

Once they were all gathered he took a deep breath and centered himself for what he knew was going to be a very emotionally charged few hours.

"I know you're all a little confused by why I've been so protective of the woman who survived Knight. There are many reasons but the two main ones are this... the children don't know. She is planning on informing each of them once they're 21. We've been trying to protect them from accidentally finding out. The second is for the last 16 years she has battled to get where she is today, with 3 young children and a lot of damage to repair she got her GED, went to college, she was accepted into the FBI Academy and is currently an agent. If this gets out beyond this room she could loose everything she has worked for, she is a respected and valued agent. This will change the way people look at her and treat her." he stared down the team one at a time hoping they understood. JJ, Reid and Morgan quickly caught on to the fact that they already knew her.

"A little over a year ago I was informed of her background and identity" Hotch added glaring at the table in general "At no point in the last two days did I disagree with Dave's decision to keep this from you. I left the decision up to Knights survivor and Dave. She has given permission for you to be read in. Let me be clear, currently there is one Bureau agent outside this room that knows her identity and that is Katie Cole. Any discussion surrounding what you find out is to be done behind closed doors. If this leaks the person responsible will be out of the BAU and without a recommendation from me by the end of the day." Even Dave was surprised by the severity of Hotch's threat.

"What I am going to show you is the final interview we conducted. It took us 10 months of careful questioning to get her full victim statement. In the room is the survivor know as 87, myself and her psychiatrist. She'd hit a block in therapy and there was one particular event Knight wrote about that she had not admitted to. It was stalling her recovery and stopping the prosecutor from filing the final charges as we needed her verification that it happened. Her Doctor and I planned this out together with her mothers input. This was filmed October 15 1991... if at anytime you need to leave then leave... in all my years this is quite possibly the hardest victim interview I've ever conducted." Dave didn't miss the apprehensive looks passing between the rest of the team.

He hit play and up on the screen the back of Dave's head appeared in the bottom left hand corner.

Centered on the screen 21 year old Emily Prentiss sat nervously chewing an already ragged and bleeding nail, behind her Cora and Dashiell sat playing on the floor, 4 month old Skylar fast asleep in her stroller.

"Oh god no..." JJ was the first to recognise the face on the screen.

While Garcia had been somewhat prepared, seeing the stark truth up on the screen brought a sob bubbling up from her chest as a shocked gasp escaped from Morgan. Spencer sat there silent and confused struggling to comprehend the meaning of what he was seeing.

He let the full hour long video play... pushing Emily through more and more unpleasant events that occurred during her time with Knight... Katie Cole slowly taking the children from the room... Emily's visceral reaction to Cora being taken... her begging them not to make her remember... the damn breaking as she finally told them what Knight had threatened to do... the final 15 minutes of hysteria, Emily screaming 'don't kill her...' over and over again as she slammed her head against the wall... the tape ending abruptly with Emily being sedated by Dr Trewlynn.

"No other copy of this exists and this is the first time it's been viewed since the transcription was taken" Dave's voice was husky "After her statement was in writing I locked the tapes away... I couldn't even bring myself to watch them... that was the day Katie requested a transfer to CETaF."

"Please... please tell me that Prentiss has a doppelgänger out there..." Morgan is the first to speak his voice rough and devastated.


1992

It was a beautiful late October day as Emily sat in the quad studying with a group of other freshman. Completely unplanned Dara Summers was starting her freshman year as well and they had a number of classes together.

It made things better for the both of them. Emily was never going to get to experience normal college life but her friendship with Dara made it easier to connect with other students.

They were just finishing up for the afternoon when two little voices washed over them.

"Mommy... Mommy"

Before Emily could turn around Dashiell and Cora landed on her back wrapping their arms around her. All three of them giggling.

It had taken a lot of time and hard work but she had eventually gotten to a healthier place, a place where she could comfortably leave the children to go to class. It had started the year before during her twice a week therapy appointments. Leaving Skylar and Dashiell outside with her mother or Julie was ok but Cora was a different story she panicked every time her eldest daughter was out of her sight. They started slow, the last 15 minutes of each session Cora was taken outside, then it was 30 minutes, then the whole session.

In January of that year Emily was leaving all three children at the house. Soon after that she would start to leave earlier and get a coffee or do some shopping.

In May she let her Mother take the older two over night, three weeks after Skylar's first birthday she and her mother left all three with Julie while they went to an overnight spa.

It was slow, but steady improvement... finding a new normal.

Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don't you take it awful hard

'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines

Diggin' in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I'll rise.


2008

Hotch ignores Morgan's plea and addresses the room in the tone he normally reserves for recalcitrant local law enforcement.

"I'd like to remind you all of a few pertinent facts. After this interview Emily Prentiss attained her GED, sat in the witness box at Knights trial for 3 days, she was accepted into Georgetown and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a double major in Criminal Justice and Psychology. She was accepted into the FBI Academy and graduated first in her class. For the last 18 months she has been an integral member of this team who has earned our respect and friendship. I expect you follow her example from after Carl Buford, after Tobias Hankle and after Jason Clark Battle, you will treat her as she deserves... as a valued member of this unit who's past is secondary to the skills as a profiler she brings to our team."

"Gideon knew didn't he?" Reid for all his brain power was struggling to connect the girl on the tape to the woman he knew.

"Yes he did. When she first transferred to the unit he's the one who told me." Hotch confirmed.

"Jason did a very good job at pissing off Elizabeth Prentiss" Rossi chuckled "He was observing... watching for behavioral patterns in case I missed them. He didn't think she could recover and lead a normal life… boy was he wrong"


1994

She'd fallen in love with the house in Baileys Crossroads the moment she drove past it. Actually it was more of a cottage, and it was almost perfect. Small enough to manageable by herself, big enough for the four of them to be comfortable.

White weatherboards, dark gabled roof, wooden post fence at the front. The kitchen bright, bedrooms comfortable and living area just the right size for them. A huge backyard for her endlessly energetic kids to run around in…

She hadn't told anyone where she was taking the kids that Saturday, Skylar sat on her hip shyly taking it all in with wide eyes while Dashiell slapped at her thigh pointing at something in the snow covered backyard.

"What is it?" she leaned down to ask the almost 6 year old.

"That tree mommy…" he was vibrating with excitement staring at the old oak "Uncle Dave could build us a tree house…"

"Uncle Dave would pay someone to build you a tree house." She laughed, he was right though it was a perfect tree for a little boy to climb. In her minds eye she could see Cora and Dashiell chasing each other up and down, round and round… laughing, playing, Skylar trying and failing to keep up. Surely this was a dream... was she still trapped in that basement hallucinating?

"What's the asking price?" she looked at the realtor. It would take a chunk of cash out of her trust but... it was worth it and it was time.

'Mommy has ants in her pants…' Cora would have chanted if she'd seen Emily fidgeting in her seat. She was down to one session a week with Dr Trewlynn and most of the time they were relaxed catch ups instead of the heavy and emotionally draining sessions that had defined the first few years as her patient. A part of her felt she was nearly ready to stop all together.

"How was your week?" the doctor grinned knowing something was different, the excitement rolling off Emily in waves was contagious.

"I bought a house on Saturday!" That was the moment Anita Trewlynn knew beyond any doubt Emily was ok.

Elizabeth had smiled, asked to see the house and mused about taking on short term assignments again.

Dave asked what Champagne was appropriate for smashing over the side of the house. "That's for a boat you idiot" Emily's laugh echoed over the phone.

3 years, 5 months and 18 days after Dave found her locked in a basement in Bethesda Emily, Dashiell, Cora and Skylar moved into their own home.


1995

"Hey Dave…" Emily looked over her glass of wine, Dave had come over to her house and was cooking to celebrate Emily having handed in her final assessment for her psych major. The food had been eaten, the kids put to bed and now they were chatting about everything and nothing.

"Hey Em!" the friendship between the two was relaxed and easy. He'd happily filled the role of favoured uncle for them.

"If I wanted to apply to the Bureau would you give me a reference?" his grin as he accidentally knocked the wine out her hand while pulling her into a hug was all the answer she needed.


2008

Morgan punched a wall... Reid babbled about everything and nothing his brain going to fast for his heart to keep up... Garcia cried and JJ got that mulish resolute look that scares the press and told them all to pull themselves together. They had a case to solve.

Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I dance like I've got diamonds

At the meeting of my thighs?

Chapter Text

Chapter 4: Lived

2008

Emily hid away in Kitty Hawk with the girls until they solved the case. At first Cora and Skylar were not overly happy at the impromptu vacation but a few days in took advantage of the opportunity to laze around on the beach.

It took the team two weeks to find the young man Knight had been corresponding with from prison. A lost, lonely young man who idolised Knight, who wanted his own Alla. He wasn't Knight though, he was impatient, he didn't take the time to watch… get to know her from a distance… break her down up close.

He wanted their immediate compliance but human nature fights against that, he hadn't been able to control them or himself.

Knight knew how to use their human nature against them.

Knight had been controlling the whole thing from the inside, Skylar was his endgame all along… Alla's punishment for disobeying him. He hadn't counted on the BAU. He didn't know what lengths the team would go to for a stranger and how much further they would go for one of their own.

The day Emily returned to the BAU Dave met her in the car park, she'd been gone long enough for the team process her past. They rode the elevator in silence and Emily barely had a moment to take a breath before Penelope Garcia was yanking her into a bone crushing hug.

"Thank god" she cried "the boys are out of control… please make them bearable again."

"Baby Girl, you're breaking my heart…" Morgan sauntered over smirk firmly in place and wrapped his arms around both of them "it's all Reid…"

Hotch smiled and nodded at the scene he was watching from the catwalk as JJ and Reid joined them. The team was going to be ok.


 

She could feel Spencer's eyes watching her... studying her... from what Dave had said he was really struggling to reconcile the woman who had willingly walked into a serial killers house... a man who was cutting out the hearts of young mothers... with the hysterically screaming girl on the tape. Choosing that particular tape to show them had been a calculated move, it was the worst one and had taken her weeks to recover from it. They had met her at her strongest and they needed to see one of her weakest moments to truly understand.

He struggled to see the Emily who had called him out after Hankel, didn't let him get away with anything.

Emily who he hadn't seen flinch or stumble once when talking to Karen Foley and Mary Wilkinson.

He could talk to Dave about it but it had become abundantly clear in the months since his return to the FBI the older man would throw them all under a bus to protect Emily.

He went up to Hotch's office, closed the door behind him and took a moment before admitting.

"I don't know how to look at her without hearing her beg and plead for Cora's life…"

"Neither do I... but we don't have a choice. We have to learn."


 

In her off time Penelope Garcia had been working on something for Dave and Emily. She wasn't a profiler but she knew the two well enough by now to see how much those two unidentified girls haunted the pair.

A little bit of digging revealed the facial structure profile hadn't been updated since they were found in 1990. She pulled all the pictures taken by the coroner, reconstructed their faces using current technology. According to the report none of Knights known victims were more than a 3 hour drive from Bethesda so she went out four hours and started a facial recognition search.

Every high school within 4 hours of Bethesda... every photo from every year book from 1980 to 1990 was checked. She just let it run in the background... some school's hadn't moved their backdated yearbooks to digital but she would worry about that later.

The day after Emily returned to work she got a hit from Lancaster Pennsylvania in 1983.

When she arrived at work the following Friday morning her computer found a hit for the last girl in Salisbury Maryland in 1986.

There are brief missing persons reports available but the full file was still hard copy.

She feel's burning anger course through her... surely when the news broke someone would have remembered these girls... hundred of parents whose daughters had gone missing had contacted the FBI screaming for answers... for closure... was their daughter one of Knights victims. 'She looks just like those girls you've already identified...'. How many desperate parents did they have to apologise to... I'm sorry it is your daughter... I'm sorry it's not your daughter. Penelope didn't know which was worse, grief... mourning and then closure or hope, one day their daughter might come home.

Jane Purcell and Sasha Vatkina.

She pulls it all together into a report and takes what she found to Hotch. She doesn't want to get Dave and Emily's hopes up if these aren't the girls.

"Sir... I need your help"

He looks over what she's found, they certainly match Knights preference.

Hotch takes the files home over the weekend and reads them over and over again... he's convinced. He picks Garcia up at 4 am on Monday morning and they make the drive out to Salisbury then up to Lancaster. He could have made a phone call and had the files pulled but something stopped him. Requests like that have a habit of getting around quickly and he doesn't want anyone's hopes raised unnecessarily.

The reports support their suspicions, their dental records never computerised… sitting in a box waiting for someone to find them.

Two day's later proof that Penelope Garcia is a miracle worker arrives. Hotch calls Dave and Emily into the conference room and with tears in her eyes Garcia shows them what they found.

"I found the last two girls..." she hands them the photo's, reports and dental comparison.

Emily's hands reach out to gently trace the faces frozen in time staring up at her.

"I've asked the local's to let us do the notification... you can be there if you want." Hotch's voice is too calm and gentle to break Emily out of the pall that's fallen over her. Sasha had been taken the September before her... she fought him from the first moment and had frozen to death in the December. Jane Purcell was his third victim and had hung herself with the bed sheet after he raped her for the first time. That was when he started to remove everything that could be used as a noose from the room.

"I'll do the notifications..." Dave finally speaks. For the last 16 years he'd had dreams about faceless girls begging him to find her, maybe now they'd stop.

"We'll need to change the head stones" Emily whispers to no one in particular. Over the years she'd read Knights journal's multiple times... they had suffered the same as she did and more than once she wondered why she survived.

The families decide to leave the girls where Elizabeth had them buried nearly 20 years before. Grateful that someone had cared enough about their daughters to make sure they were taken care of.

Emily attends the memorials with her Mother, Julie, Dave and the rest of the BAU. Word had passed quickly to the all the families of Knights victims... some attended... some didn't.

As they're preparing to leave Sasha's father pulls her into a hug and mutters "Смерць гігант, супраць якога нават Цары павінны звярнуць зброю." (Death is a giant against whom even the Tsars must draw weapons.)

A whisper of a childhood memory floats through her mind and without thought she murmurs back "Хай памяць аб ёй будзе святло" (Let the memory of her be light)


 

It takes a few cases to find their rhythm again. Hotch and Dave learned long ago to live with the knowledge of Emily's past and not coddle her but Morgan, JJ and Reid are still on that particular curve.

Hotch tries not to interfere in the dynamic shift but he doesn't let Reid curb his words in front of her, Morgan try and keep her out of the field or JJ vet her consults to exclude teenage girls.

It's not until New York that they truly settle back into their roles. Seeing Emily deal with Cooper's flirting in her own uniquely Emily way helped, hearing her calls of officer down and only having cool calm and collected Agent Prentiss available settles them down.

They learn nothing about Emily has actually changed, there's just been some additional detail added.

Garcia says it best "It's like the picture has finally developed fully"


 

At the end of August Emily sends Dashiell back to Yale for his junior year and moves Cora into the dorms at Columbia for her freshman year.

This time next year she'll be doing the same for Skylar... a part of her wants to keep her babies at home forever. Another part is looking forward to being able to go out without checking in or organising a sitter, work late without worrying if they're setting fire to the kitchen, go on a holiday that doesn't involve 'kid/teen friendly activities'.

Do all the things she should have done before kids came along.

She's 37 and she feel's like she's missed out on so much...

It's late in the afternoon when they get home from New York.

"Hey Mom... look" Skylar points to the moving truck next door. The house had been up for sale for nearly a year, the previous owners had retired and moved down to Florida... how cliche... renting it to TDY military families while they tried to sell.

Emily hadn't even noticed the sold sticker going up weeks before.

"Let's go say hello..." Emily grins.

They leave their bags in the car and wander over to the side fence just in time to see a man heading out of the house. Tall... probably close to 6ft 4, medium brown hair sprinkled with just a little bit of grey and as he got closer they could make out his clear green eyes.

While all three of her children have her dark eyes, hair and pale skin Dashiell had his fathers bone structure and Cora features came straight from Elizabeth's family.

Skylar was her copy down to the gangly legs, slightly too big feet and long nose.

The teen loved the fact that she got her mothers boobs and dimples and hated her lack of co-ordination and nose.

He does a double take as he see's them watching.

"Sorry, copy paste moment..." is his first comment causing both Prentiss' to giggle.

"I'm Emily, this is Skylar." she holds her hand out, he takes it with a firm handshake.

"Nathan and my boy Jamie is wandering somewhere about the house."

"My mom's psychic!" Emily really wished Skylar didn't get her smart arse gene. Elizabeth on the other hand laughed every time Emily whined about it.

"Really..." Nathan is skeptical.

"Yep" she pops the P with confidence and sass "Show him mom."

Rolling her eyes, knowing Skylar's not going to let it go she turns the tables on her.

"You try first..." Emily dares her cocky daughter already knowing what will happen.

Skylar's dark eyes scan the man and the belongings for a minute before she speaks with a little less confidence.

"Military..." she starts "single..." she hesitates struggling to put it together. "That's all I've got..." her shoulders slump Cora's always been better at this than she has.

"Very recently ex-military, officer... Air Force pilot to be exact. Academy graduate, recently single." she squints as his face gives away each correct answer "Now commercial pilot, lived in Minnesota until about 11 or 12. How'd I do?"

"Impressive" Nathan scratches his head, befuddled at his new neighbours knowledge of him "How'd you really do it."

"Buzz cut is just growing out, that's an academy ring which means officer, nearly faded tan line on your ring finger" she nods towards the open car door which has a jacket on the seat "pilot's wings on the jacket which is sitting on paperwork with the Delta logo and finally that was a Minnesotan 'about' if I ever heard one. SSA Emily Prentiss, FBI."

"Former Lieutenant Colonel Nathan Lake, current pilot with Delta."

They chat easily for a few more minutes before Emily decides to let them continue unpacking.

"We're ordering pizza if you guys want to join us..." she invites the Lake boys over on a whim.

An easy friendship strikes up that day. In the weeks that follow Emily tells him about raising three kids on her own and life as a FBI profiler. He admits his wife took off 18 months earlier leaving him and Jamie alone, after hearing nothing for a year he was suddenly served with divorce papers and given full custody. He signed everything, took the ring off in April and requested retirement. He'd been in for 24 years by then so walked away with a full pension. He'll be doing the commuter run from DC to New York and back.

Within a month Emily or Skylar are running Jamie to school in the mornings and he's keeping an eye on the 17 year old when Emily's away on cases. She's pretty sure Dave had Garcia do a CIA level background check on him but her gut is telling her he's a good man.

He asked about the kids father only once... she stuttered for a few moments grimaced and settled on.

"I'll tell you the whole story one day... he's in prison. The kids think he's dead." Normally she just tells people the relationship was abusive and he died when she was pregnant with Skylar. She's not sure what it is about Nathan Lake that makes her feel like she can trust him. Late nights chatting over a beer become the norm when she's home from a case and she finds herself opening up to him in ways she never thought possible.

Nathan meets Dave, Dashiell and Cora when they get back from La Plata. Dave drives her home and Emily's face is several different colours, she has bruised ribs, and 35 stitches in various places. Skylar freaks out when she sees her mom's injuries and calls Dashiell who jumps in his car, picks up Cora and drives back to DC in a panic.

According to Emily, Dave and Cora are the most suspicious so when Nathan gets the impression they didn't disapprove of him he waits until she's mostly healed and asks her out to dinner.

Emily's dated on and off over the years, it never went past the first or second date. Most guys in their 20's don't want a ready built family and most guys in the 30's want their own kids not someone else's.

The day of their date she realises this could be it... her chance at a normal healthy relationship with a man but he needs to know the brutal truth about what a relationship with her entails. Not just her three kids but how she got them, why there are keys attached to the back of their doors. Why at 38 she sleeps with the light on...

When they pull into his drive after a fantastic night out Emily takes his hand a leads him down the road to the local park. The late October air is chilly as they sit in the swings and she tells him her story...

Ever since Knight she's struggled to trust anyone... it takes a long time and very few ever make it into the inner circle of those who know about what he did to her.

He watches her profile in the moonlight and he doesn't know what to say... it feels too big for an ex zoomie like him. Then he realises there's nothing to say, just like when he tells people about his ex-wife... he doesn't want platitudes... stories about people they know who have had something similar happen... apologies are useless because it's not their fault... he wants them to accept that it's his story and he's living it the best he can... exactly what she gave him.

Reaching out he gently touches her hand to get her attention. When she turns to face him he sees a vulnerability he didn't think existed. He doesn't like it... he wants it gone... he wants the sassy, giggling loon who brightens up his life.

"Can I kiss you?"

It's one of the cutest things he's ever seen... she sucks her bottom lip between her teeth and nods shyly.

Grabbing the chain he pulls her swing towards him and presses a gentle kiss to her lips. Pulling back she's smiling softly.

"Thank you... We need to do that again!" She reaches out and wraps her arms around his neck pressing her lips to his. Letting go of the chain he holds onto her waist lightly, letting her take the lead and holding her weight easily... until they both forget they're on children's swings and there's nothing to catch them. There's a moment of free fall before he's landing on the dirt, knees hooked over the seat of the swing, her body sprawled awkwardly over his.

There's a moment of stunned silence as they lay there trying to work out what just happened... Emily cracks first shoulders shaking from the giggling she's trying to hold in. She drops her face in his shoulder and lets herself laugh...


 

Someone is smiling down on her for Cora's 19th birthday... she and Dashiell make it down to DC, the team doesn't have a case, and her mother is in the country.

Elizabeth needs to take a moment to compose herself when Nathan wraps an arm around Emily's shoulders and she leans comfortably into him.

"I know..." Dave mouths to her, his grin wide and genuine.

Late in the night Emily is on the dance floor with Morgan, Garcia, her kids and 6 year old Jamie when Nathan turns to them and smiles.

"She's..." the word is gone... none of the ones he can think of feel quite enough to describe Emily. He'd moved them to DC for a fresh start and the last thing he'd expected to find was her...

"Yes she is" Elizabeth agrees "She doesn't need someone dragging her through life or pushing her along. Just... walk with her."


 

Life settles into an easy pattern, Dashiell and Cora are enjoying college and despite picking her top 5 Skylar can never quite decide where she really wants to go, the 17 year old seems to change her mind every week. Harvard, Duke, Penn State, Georgetown, Notre Dame.

February fades into March and with it comes Dashiell's 21st birthday. A date Emily knew was coming and was dreading… it was the day she'd promised herself he would learn the truth.

They decide to drag the family up to New York the weekend after his actual birthday so his friends can all attend. The team makes it back from Dallas in time for her to repack and make their flight. She and Skylar making it a 4 day weekend, the rest of the team was coming up Saturday to spend the night in the city.

On the Sunday afternoon she sends the girls off shopping with Nathan, Jamie and her credit card so she can sit down with her son.

"You've never really asked about your father…" he can't look her in the eye…

"I was never really sure if it was a memory or not… but every now and then… I get a flash of someone hitting you…" he swallows, it was something that he'd always been scared to ask about.

"That happened…" she confirms, there had never been any evidence that Dashiell remembered a time before living at his grandmothers. She's relieved that's the only thing he remembers.

"Then when I was in high school I was at the library doing some research and I came across an article about a serial killer… and my heart stopped… my own face was staring back at me… I didn't want to know after that... I had you and that was enough for me... I was always a momma's boy anyway." Emily reaches out and grabs his hand.

"His name was Damian Knight. He abducted 12 girls… killed 11 of them and was arrested attempting to abduct a 13th." she pushes the file she'd prepared towards him. "He grabbed me when I was 16, and held me captive for nearly four years. You and Cora were both born during that time, I was pregnant with Skylar when your Uncle Dave rescued me. I want you to remember something while you're reading this… you are my son not his, never his. I love you and your sisters and nothing will ever change that. Read the file, talk to me, talk to Dave, your Maman, or Dr Trewlynn." she paused and took a deep breath "I have one request. Please do not tell your sisters. I will be sitting down with them once they're 21 and having the same conversation. I never wanted any of you to grow up with the weight of this on you."

"I won't say anything to them." he promises and looks at her for a moment "Who else knows?"

"Your Maman, Julie, Dave, Dr Trewlynn… Hotch has known since I joined the BAU, the team found out during a case last May… and I told Nathan when we first started dating."

"I like Nathan…"

"Good, so do I!"

"I love you Mom" he squeezes her hand tightly. No matter what he reads in that file it won't change the fact that he's always known his mother loved him.


 

1995

Dashiell was on Elizabeth's lap, Cora with Julie and Skylar with Dave… lined up somewhere in the mass of graduates in black Emily stood waiting for her name to be called so she could get her diploma.

There had been a point sometime round the second anniversary of Emily's abduction that Elizabeth admitted not being able to witness Emily graduate college was one of the things that hurt the most. Then in those first dark and impossible months after she got Emily back she'd despaired of ever getting to this point… she'd never admit it to anyone but there were days when she started to believe Agent Gideon and Antony… Emily would never truly recover.

But then something changed on an unassuming early March day, about a week before Dashiell's third birthday, she found Emily sitting in her study while the children napped. She had an old physics text open in front of her, pen in hand furiously scribbling notes. Hearing her mother at the door she looked up sheepishly 'I miss learning' she'd admitted. Elizabeth had immediately dug out all of Emily's texts and dropped them in front of her with a smile 'you never stop learning… let's get you finishing high school'.

That day had been a turning point, Emily voiced a desire without it being dragged from her and wasn't punished.

Now she was graduating from Georgetown, heading straight off to the FBI Academy next month.

"YAY MOMMY" 7 year old Dashiell jumped up and down on her chair waving his arms up and down as his mother walked across the stage.

Chicago field office… she'd hoped to get DC or Baltimore but she would take it. It was a step in the right direction... what direction she wanted to go in she hadn't worked out yet but she was stepping that way.

Emily packed up her kids, rented out the Baileys Crossroads house and headed for the windy city.

She worked hard, she was noticed, mentored and promoted.

In 2000 they sent her to St Louis. She was strong, gutsy and determined, a few months after they moved she started studying for the profilers exams.

She wanted to make Dave proud… Dr Trewlynn asked her if she was doing it to save herself.

'No, I don't need saving… but right now there's an Emily out there that does and there's an Emily out there that will need saving one day. I want to save them."

Out of the huts of history's shame

I rise

Up from a past that's rooted in pain

I rise

I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.


 

2009

Intimacy with Nathan required a lot of emotional prep work for Emily. Not long after starting at Georgetown she'd been asked on a date and Dr Trewlynn had spent a lot of time getting her ready for that but this was different. In the past she had never considered a sexual relationship.

After their first kiss on the swings Emily knew there would come a time where she would want to have sex with him and she was self-aware enough to know there would be at least one meltdown or freak out as their relationship progressed.

"Take it slow and listen to your body. If it feels too fast it probably is." Was the best advise the psychiatrist gave her.

More than once Skylar caught them making out on the couch like teenagers.

Nathan was patient and understanding with her, not getting angry when she put the breaks on.

In some ways when it did finally happen 8 months into their relationship it was a non-event. She was ready, she trusted Nathan and most importantly she wanted it.

Being with Nathan was nothing like Knight, it was fun, and relaxing and not at all forced. There was a natural give and take to being with him that she never knew existed.


 

Nathan's dad doesn't like to travel... he's content with his hobby farm in Vermont so in order to meet Emily they have to go to him.

Deciding to take the whole crew with them for the first week of summer they rent a van and head off the day after Skylar and Jamie finish school for the year.

Swinging through New York and then New Haven Skylar and Jamie are jammed into the very back whispering about something, Cora and Dashiell are debating the merits of various Sci-Fi shows in the middle while Nathan naps and Emily entertains herself profiling different cars as she drove out of the city.

All in all the 9 hour drive from Virginia to Vermont goes smoothly but it's a very tired and antsy family that tumbles out of the van just outside of Bennington.

Carson Lake was sitting patiently on his front porch waiting to meet the woman his son had been raving since moving to DC the previous September. His first impression of her is interesting, when the van stops the back door flies open and a young man falls out laughing and pointing at someone in the car. Within seconds another body is flying towards him and he's up and running away from his sister. Skylar is quickly after them tripping over her own feet with Jamie hot on her heels, Emily follows chasing the lot of them yelling something about being dignified and not rolling in the mud until tomorrow.

His son finally gets out of the drivers seat with a laugh and a shake of his head and hugs his Dad who he hasn't seen since he signed the divorce papers.

"Do I want to know what that's all about?" The older man laughs.

"Dashiell said something to Cora... I'm not sure exactly what it meant... then Skylar jumps in and 'Spikes' him with something about tea and shagging. Cora then called him a 'Warthog faced buffoon' to which Emily immediately riles the three of them up even further with Monty Python..." Nathan shrugs no matter how many times he'd witnessed a Prentiss insult-a-thon he couldn't keep up "as we pulled in Dashiell tells Cora she's 'as elegant as a Dalek' which is when he fell out of the car trying to avoid her slapping…"

He trails off as Emily comes stalking back, somehow she's managed to get Cora and Skylar's ponytails in one hand and Dashiell's ear in the other. Nathan is certain this isn't the first time she's dragged her children around in this particular arrangement. Jamie is laughing so hard he can barely walk and runs up to his grandfather to throw his arms around the older mans waist. Before she lets go of them Nathan snaps a photo to send to Elizabeth.

"Now... how do we meet new people"

"Pleased to meet you Mr Lake" Dashiell sticks out his hand awkwardly blushing crimson at the smirks on Nathan and Carson's faces.

21 years old and 6ft 3 he's mortified that his mother is dragging him around by the ear.

The girls are trying to look over their shoulders but Emily is holding them tight.

"Girls...?" she grinds out trying not to let them hear the laughter in her voice.

"I'm Cora" she waves over her shoulder with a grin and points to her left "that's Skylar"

Emily lets her three kids go and takes Carson's hand with a grin.

"Emily Prentiss, sorry about the sideshow!"

She ignores the indignant noises and sends them to get the bags out of the car.

"I like them..." Carson tells his son late that night, everyone else is in bed and they're catching up out in the warm summer night with a beer.

"They're nuts..." he admits "but it's a good nuts. Emily's an amazing mother."

"And their father?" Nathan looks at his father and knows Emily would be ok with Carson knowing part of the truth but decides to tell Carson what the girls know so Emily can tell the story in her own time.

"Dead, has been for over 18 years. They're better off without him."

The week flies, Carson doesn't think he's laughed this much in years especially when Nathan laments "She's turning Jamie into a nerd... I don't know whether to be proud or scared."

Watching Dashiell running through a field with Jamie clinging to his back and the girls throwing mud at them was a sight to see, especially when Emily dragged his too serious son into the fray. He end's up having to turn the hose on all 6 of them before letting them into house.

"You're not what I expect from an FBI Agent" he admits to Emily.

"What do you mean?"

"I can't prove it but I'm pretty sure you're the planner of half the mischief those three kids of yours get up to."

"Great, isn't it?" her grin is unapologetic "When we were living in Chicago I'd take them out to Wonder Lake some weekends and let them run wild, the second we get out of the city... when I was young my Mother used to send me to my grandfathers during summer holidays... weeks of running wild over the alps. I loved it, I wanted them to have something similar. It took a while but now Nathan will let me roll Jamie in the mud whenever I want."

By the time their week is up Carson has made plans for Cora and Dashiell to visit on weekends during the school year.

He wraps his arms around Emily and pulls her into a hug hoping she understands what he's trying to say.

She does and when he lets her go she presses a gentle kiss to Carson's cheek "He gives me what I need too."

Nathan goes with them when Skylar moves into the dorms at Duke and holds Emily's hand all the way home as she laments all her babies moving out.

"You know Jamie's yours now to?"


 

"Emily, what do you think?" JJ asks, Henry had stopped sleeping through the night and someone had suggested they try letting him cry it out for a while. She'd been listening but not contributing.

"Think about it behaviorally, what does crying mean?" Emily shoots back, seeing Hotch smirk in the background understanding where she's going with this.

"Somethings wrong..."

"Yeah... sometimes it's a belly ache, dirty diaper, hunger, strange noise and sometimes they're lonely. Didn't it start after you guys moved into the new place?"

"Yeah... he got an actual bedroom and not just the alcove." JJ confirms, she and Will had been looking for a bigger place since before Henry was born.

"He's probably just lonely with a whole room to himself. He's been with one of you for his entire existence... cuddle him till he goes back to sleep and put him down or move him back into your bedroom." she shrugs.

"Did you co-sleep? No one can agree on whether it's a good thing or a bad thing." Spencer asked, he'd read conflicting studies about this.

"I didn't have a book, I had my gut... then again I also had a butt load of psychological damage…" Dave covered his smirk as Emily's eyes darted around the team. Now that the team knew everything Emily's bluntness regarding her time with Knight always threw them for a loop.

"Dashiell and Cora were both four when they moved into their own rooms. Skylar was three. At one stage all four of us were sleeping in the same room... They slept fine in both places, they're well adjusted, intelligent and independent so really..." she shrugged carelessly "JJ you're his Mom... what's your gut telling you?"

"He's lonely... and Will and I need to decide what's going to work for the three of us."

"Yeah..." Emily smiled "they can give you some good pointers and a place to start but books don't know you and they don't know your kid... my kids ate dirt, they fell out of trees, played with bugs and fought with each other. I didn't let them run roughshod over me but I let them explore at their own pace... and if anyone tries to tell me that was the wrong way to raise them then I tell them three things… Yale, Columbia, Duke."

"I ate bugs..." Morgan piped up from his spot next to Reid "I don't know how many times I threw them back up all over mama... I turned out fine"


 

By Emily's birthday in October Skylar is happily settled at Duke, Nathan and Jamie had moved into her house and his was once again being rented out to TDY military families.

The merge of their two lives was seamless.

Dashiell took his time working through the truth about his conception and birth. With Dave's encouragement he joined a support group and worked through what it meant for him. The week in Vermont, seeing his mother so happy and free had helped immensely, the idea of visiting Knight in prison enters his mind occasionally but never stays long.


 

Emily finally lost it on a case...

Seeing the invasion of their homes, the fake romance and intimacy... the mind games.

Joe Belser claimed to have loved those women... but you don't have to force love. You don't lock someone you love in a room.

It takes both Morgan and JJ to pull her off Belser, Rossi doesn't even try and talk to her he just hands over his phone with Anita Trewlynn already on the other end and leaves her alone in the car.

"You have her psychiatrists number?" JJ asks throwing a worried look over her shoulder at the brunette agent.

"Yeah..." he rubs his hands over his face, weary beyond belief. "Haven't had to call it for a long time and never for something like this." he tries to reassure her that Emily isn't the loose cannon she appears to be right now.


 

Ten days after they buried Haley Hotchner, Nathan proposed... it wasn't a big romantic gesture... he didn't even have a ring.

Jamie was in bed and they were doing the dishes chatting about how Hotch and Jack were coping. The team, including Will and Nathan, had tried to check in and be available if the Hotchner's needed them while leaving them enough space to find their new normal.

They still didn't know if Hotch would be returning to the team... Emily wouldn't blame him if he didn't.

Nathan looked over at her still in her work pants and singlet top, blouse had been shucked off the second the walked through the door. Hair pulled up in a messy bun, ugg boots keeping her eternally cold feet warm suds up to her elbow and a streak across her cheek.

Wrapping his arms around her he pulled her back against his chest and sighed.

"Marry me?"

She froze, plate in hand hovering over the sink as his question sunk in. She blinked before turning to face him.

Not sure what to make of her silence he pressed a gentle kiss to her lips.

"Marry me Em..."

"I think… that's something I'd really like to do." Emily's face broke out into a wide smile before throwing her soapy hands around his neck almost smacking him in the head with the soapy plate. Grinning sheepishly she drops it in the sink and then kisses him wildly.


 

2010

Nathan had already done the big fancy wedding and Emily just rolled her eyes at the idea of a formal event. Nothing about her life had been traditional and she didn't plan on starting now.

They didn't want the bother of a bucks or hens night, dress and tux shopping, picking a cake, and flowers… in fact the only people they tell about the engagement is Elizabeth and Carson. They demand Emily's kids all come home for the same weekend during spring break, invite all their friends and family over for a cookout. Halfway through the night Elizabeth taps on her glass to get everyone's attention.

"Tonight isn't just a cookout to celebrate spring... a few months ago Emily called me to let me know she and Nathan were getting married..." Her smile is blinding at the crowd of shocked people as the celebrant stood up and beckoned Emily and Nathan over to her.

No fuss… a relaxed and fun evening that they just happened to get married at.

Dave will never admit it but he tears up a bit as Emily says her vows. Elizabeth and Julie both have tears flowing freely…


 

Despite Derek being the one with a concussion it was Emily that threw up on the way home from LA.

"It's been a long time since I've done this for you" Rossi commented wincing as he held her hair back in the jet's tiny bathroom.

She gagged one last time and breathed deeply trying to still her spasming stomach. When nothing came up after a few minutes she pushed herself back slightly.

"Yeah but most of the time it was your fault... the first time you'd just been served with your second set of divorce papers and we indulged in too much red wine."

When she was confident her stomach was empty she gingerly used the sink to pull herself into a standing position.

"... I would have gotten you drunk years before but it was the first time since I'd known you that you weren't growing or feeding another human being." His offhand comment was meant to be a joke but he noticed the slight widening of her eyes straight away.

"Emily...?" he could see the cogs turning as she counted... and then went even paler.

Reaching around her he quickly flushed the toilet, dropped the lid down and pushed her onto it and her head between her knees.

"I'm not going to pass out" her voice sounded week even to her own ears.

"Good... cause I really don't want to explain to Nathan why you were fine when we left LA and you weren't when we arrived in Virginia."

"Dave..." she was starting to feel a bit better, yet at the same time she was feeling worse "I think I'm growing another human being..."

"Okay..." he draws the word out unsure of how to respond to her panicked declaration.

"Dashiell just graduated college…" she's staring at her boot clad toes "we never talked about kids... hell I don't think we ever even talked about birth control which is possibly why I'm freaking out right now..."

"You guys have been together for nearly 2 years... you're married and you never talked about birth control?"

"I forgot!" her head shoots up along with her volume and she immediately regrets it as black spots dance in front of her eyes and her stomach rolls "Ugggghhhhh" Dave doesn't need to push her head down this time as it drops without her consent.

"You ok Em?" JJ calls from where she had been hovering in the aisle.

"Yeah... no... shit"

"You got anything left to throw up?" he asks

"Nuh uh…" he takes the noise she makes as a negative.

"Breathe deep and keep your eyes closed… JJ and I are gonna get you out of the bathroom."

"This is gonna suck" she whines quietly as Dave gingerly pulls her to her feet and with JJ's help guides her back to her seat.

She sleeps the entire way back to Virginia and fortunately doesn't throw up again when they land. At Dave's insistence he drives her home with a quick stop at the local CVS. He promises to pick her up the next morning for work... he'll pick her up every morning if he has to.

The house is empty when she wanders through… dumping the pregnancy test in the en-suite she strips out of her suit, leaving it in a puddle on the floor and pulls on her pajamas before crawling into bed.

When she wakes up it's dark and Nathan is sitting beside her on the bed running a thumb gently up and down her cheek. She can hear Jamie in his bedroom down the hall…

"My heart jumped a little when I saw the test and I thought to myself… how did this happen… then I realised for all the plans we made we never made a plan for this."

"It never even occurred to me to go on birth control" Emily admits sheepishly taking his hand "What are you thinking?"

"I never wanted Jamie to be an only child but I didn't believe he'd ever get siblings… then you and the nerdlings came along… I'm happy for Jamie to be the youngest of our pack but if we add more… that's good to."

"I was done with babies... my kids are grown and I didn't think there'd be any more after Skylar. Jamie's pretty independent, he bathes and dresses himself... he sleeps through the night... I don't not want a baby but this is starting all over again..."

Nathan nods and waits for her...

"Ok… I have a test to take."

The next morning she texts Dave and tells him not to bother picking her up, it's Nathan's day off and he insists on dropping her at Quantico.

Emily makes sure the only one to beat her to the office is Hotch. Dropping her bag on her desk she heads straight up to his office and knocks on the door.

"Hey, how are you feeling?" Hotch takes in her paler than normal face.

"Eh…" she shrugs and closes the door behind her "How much did you hear on the flight yesterday?"

"How much did you want me to hear?"

"That tells me everyone heard everything… I've got an appointment this afternoon. I'll come and see you Monday morning."

She's grateful it's a Friday, it gives her and Nathan the weekend to revel before reality sets in. She's also booked in a session with Anita after the OB/GYN, whatever happens at the first appointment she'll need to talk it out.

She ignores the pointed looks and stares from her teammates and even when Garcia asks her point blank if she's pregnant she simply lifts an eyebrow turns to walk away and calls over her shoulder "If there's something to tell, I'll tell when I'm ready"

With her 40th birthday less than 3 months away a pregnancy could be a phenomenally bad idea and they want to keeps things under wraps as much as possible.

She officially informs Hotch of her pregnancy the following Monday. She states point blank 'no more field work'… he looks a little surprised and relieved by how relaxed she is about the whole thing. They all tend to get a little antsy when they're limited in what they can do on a case. The team is so well balanced right now, they can swap and change partners quickly and easily depending on the case. Having Emily out of the field puts a lot more pressure on the rest of them in emergent situations.

She's miserable for several weeks, the constant nausea and dizziness sucking all her energy and more than once the team finds her dozing at the table when they return to the station.

The kids and their parents are all called at week 12.

At week 14 Emily officially tells the team what they've all known for a while by emailing a picture from the 12 week sonogram to them with the subject line 'What does a pond grow into?'

By Cora's 21st birthday in November she's five months pregnant and loving it. Despite being nearly 20 years older than when she carried Skylar this pregnancy feels easier and less stressful. It helps that Nathan waits on her hand and foot.

Saying Cora didn't take the truth well would be a massive understatement. Emily once again planned a long weekend in New York and sat her daughter down after all the celebrations were done.

"I told myself you didn't talk about him cause you missed him too much..." she whispers as Emily tries to hand over the same information as Dashiell had been given 18 months before.

"I didn't talk about him because I didn't want you to know about monsters" Emily whispered.

"I need..." she stared at the folder "I need you to go now..." Cora refused to look up at her mother.

"Cora..."

"You let me believe he was a good man..." the betrayal in her daughters eyes broke Emily's heart.

She nodded slowly, accepting Cora needing time.

"You were never his... you were always mine, my sweet girl. Call me when you're ready to talk."

She slipped out of the room to find Dashiell and Nathan waiting outside.

Dashiell hugged her tightly and whispered in her ear "I'll look after her" before going in to check on his sister.

Taking her hand Nathan lead her away from the door so the kids wouldn't hear her cry. When they got to their room in the hotel the damn burst, he held her while she cried.

Cora didn't call that week, or the week after.

Despite pleading from her brother and grandmother Cora refused to read the file and couldn't see beyond the childhood notion that her father was a good man.

By December Skylar had picked up on the rift and was calling both her mother and sister alternatively begging them to talk to the other. She stopped when Dashiell went down to Durham and spoke with her. Emily never found out what he said but Skylar stopped bugging her about making up with Cora.

Nearly 6 weeks after being told the truth, on a cold and blustery Saturday morning Cora made the drive from New York to Maryland, arriving at Chesapeake Detention Facility a little after 11 in the morning. She still hadn't read the full file, hadn't considered visiting regulations at the prison, didn't know all of Knights privileges had been revoked in 2008 and he still didn't have most of them back.

She didn't know her name was on a list of people who the guards had been given very specific instructions to follow should they turn up.

The guards sat her in a waiting room and made a phone call.

An hour and a half later Dave stepped into the room and stared at her hard... furious at the way Cora was treating Emily.

"If you'd bothered to check you'd know Knight isn't allowed visitors... in fact he isn't allowed contact with anyone outside this prison or the FBI."

Cora slumped back into her chair, arms crossed and eyes averted and Dave is reminded of the 17 year old he busted out after curfew.

"If you'd bothered to read the information your mother gave you you'd know the reason for that is he manipulated a young man into attempting to continue what he started." she wilted a little under his glare.

"Give me your keys, you're coming with me."

Outside the waiting room he handed Morgan the car key's.

"I'll leave it at your place, Garcia's gonna pick me up." the younger agent threw Cora a sad look before walking off. He and Hotch had agreed to hide this intervention from Emily... she wouldn't approve of Elizabeth and Dave's plan and couldn't take anymore stress right now.

Dave let her stew in silence for the first 45 minutes.

"Your grandmother called and warned me you might try this. Called you a foolish little girl who wasn't ready for the truth after all... I have to say right now I'm thinking she's right."

"She lied to me!" Cora finally exploded

"About your father being dead... you bet your ass she did and I'm going to show you exactly why."

The rest of the drive to Quantico was made in silence. When they arrived at the academy Dave got her signed in and the hauled her up to the interview rooms. They arrived just as Hotch stepped out with a curt nod, pushing her into the room and the closing the door behind him.

On the far wall was a series of photo's, 12 teenage girls smiling widely at the camera. Underneath 11 of them were pictures of their remains along with copies of some of the polaroids Knight had taken at various times while he had them. A series of dates included with their names, date of birth, date they went missing, estimated date of death. Only one had a recovery date...

Cora's eyes were drawn immediately to the 9th photo, at first glance she thought it was Skylar, then she realised it was her mother. It was the school portrait taken a week before she went missing. Her Maman had pulled it out to when they were comparing how alike Skylar and their mother are. She'd never thought to ask why there were years missing from family photo's. No baby photos of herself and Dashiell.

Date of Birth: 12 October 1970

Date of abduction: 02 February 1987

Date of Death: N/A

Date of recovery/exhumation: 10 December 1990

Out of the corner of her eye another date caught her attention 01 November 1989... her birthday was listed as the day Maria Delazio went missing.

"The first time I ever saw you was in the basement of a house in Bethesda. It was a tiny room... a prison... the lights were controlled from the outside and so was the heat... it was fully soundproofed and the bolts on the door embedded into the foundation of the house. You and Dashiell were sitting in a crib crying while your mother lay barely conscious... she was locked up... tortured... controlled... raped."

Her bottom lip trembled as she tried to comprehend the photo of her mother blindfolded.

"Imagine growing up knowing you're the child of a serial killer? Knowing he did so much damage to your mother she couldn't handle having legal guardianship over herself let alone two small children. He had her conditioned to kneel whenever he entered the room, she wasn't allowed blankets or clothing for herself. Imagine that... spending 3 and a half years naked? Kept as a sex slave... forced into having children as they were just another way to guarantee her absolute obedience..."

"Do you remember 16... I remember when you were 16. Your Mom bought you the car you wanted, she had your Spring Fling dress hand made... your Mom didn't get to go to Spring Fling she was locked in a room 'I begged him to stop... it hurt so badly... I just wanted him to stop. Then he just left... I was tied to the bed...the lights went out and it got cold again...' that was the first time he raped her." Dave read from Emily's statement

"Stop..." Cora whispered her bottom lip trembling.

"No" Rossi snapped "You're so angry about being lied to... how about this 'he undid the ropes... and blood started running down my legs. I knew it wasn't my period it was too heavy... the cramping felt like giving birth... he carried me back to bed and left me there bleeding over everything. I didn't want Cora and Dashiell to see so I dragged myself into the shower. It was another baby and I lost it... he checked me every day and as soon as the bleeding stopped he took me back into the room."

"Please... stop..." she begged

"You're begging... do you want to know what happened to your mother when she begged?"

"NO" it was almost a screech... the truth too heavy for her.

"And you wonder why she didn't tell you the truth... She raised you, loved you, cherished and cared for you… without the weight of knowing the man who fathered you abducted, raped and killed eleven teenage girls. She raised you with laughter and freedom and hid the psychological damage he did to her, hours up hours of therapy for 20 years… for you. She sheltered you from peoples reactions to the truth... made sure if anyone found out you were no where near them and how are you repaying her? You call her a liar without bothering to find out why... not once did she tell you Knight was a good man..."

"I asked her why my friends had Daddy's and I didn't..." Cora remembered "She told me he died..."

"What was she supposed to say… your Daddy is in jail for raping and killing teenage girls." Dave stalked out of the room and slammed the door behind him.

"Your turn" he said to Elizabeth who decided to wait before going in... Cora was too much like her mother some days

When she couldn't stand it any longer Elizabeth stepped into the room and regarded her granddaughter for a moment. Irony being what is was she was sitting in the exact same spot Emily had been when Dr Trewlynn sedated her.

"Nearly 20 years ago to the day I got a phone call from Dave… your mother had been missing for a little under 4 years and he'd finally found her… you were 13 months old... You three had been taken to Bethesda... I arrived a few hours later and Dave sat me down and told me I was a grandmother. Seeing the three of you sitting playing on the floor was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen." Elizabeth lowered herself to the floor to sit with Cora and handed over a photo she had snapped of the three of them that Christmas. Cora had seen it before but she'd never really focused on her mother, she'd never noticed how thin her mother really was or how pale. Never noticed the blank stare she gave the camera.

"It was my idea to wait into you were 21… it was my idea to tell you children your father was dead." She wrapped an arm around Cora's shoulders "I wanted you to grow up without having to worry about every word you said, every burst of temper wondering 'did it come from him?' You, sweet girl have been so angry about the lie you never stopped to ask why it was told."

"I'm sorry…"

It was another week before Cora saw Emily. She spent her days ghosting around Georgetown house with Elizabeth, trying to wrap her head around the truth she didn't want to hear. Elizabeth didn't offer anymore information but answered any question she had.

Christmas was tense, Skylar still angry at Cora and Dashiell trying to play peacemaker.

Emily hoped this wouldn't go on until Skylar's 21st birthday.

During her final few cases before going on maternity leave Emily kept her very pregnant self in Quantico, supporting the team and Garcia from there. Her very last case was a strange one and took a while to connect all of the dots. A childless couple, a family, a single man, a French National and a forger. All several different COD's until they connected the work history of Ron Cosenza, Kerry Fagan and Byron Delany to Clear Water Securities which lead them to Tsia Mosely they still hadn't worked out Ben Corelli's connection to it all.

They were still trying to work out Doyle's end game when one of Katie Cole's CETaF agents disappeared and it all started to come together. JTF-12, Lauren Reynolds... the murky world on international espionage.

Emily stared at the agents dossier and had to wonder… this agent had a similar education, language skills and looks. If not for Damien Knight where would she be right now?

Katie came running in, she was flying up to Boston with the rest of the team to try and find her agent. Dave had kept her updated on Emily but seeing her so content and happy in person was jarring.

"Call me when you've had the baby and we'll catch up" the older woman whispers as she hugs Emily.

She heads home as the team gets in the air… it's up to Garcia and the rest of them now. A year ago she would have been with them, even if something had kept her out of the field she wouldn't have left Quantico but her body and mind are simply too tired and she knew first and foremost to listen to what her body was telling her.

It was saying go home and go to bed.

Jamie is in bed and Nathan has dinner waiting in the microwave for her, she barely gets through a quarter of it before she can't eat anymore and heads to bed.

What she'd ridden off as braxton hicks earlier in the day had become regular rolling contractions and she knew within 5 or 6 hours they'll be heading to the hospital.

2 weeks before her due date but still full term. At her last check up the doctor had declared the baby right on track and them both perfectly healthy.

The contractions become strong enough to wake her around 3am, still 10 minutes apart she heads for a quick shower. She spends the next few hours wandering from room to room letting her body do what it needed to do.

With Emily's due date so close Elizabeth had put off her holiday to Italy until later in the year and is up and at the door to get Jamie when they drop the sleepy 7 year old off just before 6am.

The team is in Boston General waiting to see if Klara Porter survived her fight with Doyle when all of their phones beep within seconds of each other.

'Hannah Amelia Lake 8:56am 6 pound 9 ounces 16 inches. Mom and baby healthy, we'll let you know about Dad.'

Included is a photo of Emily, Nathan and the new baby. Blinding happiness emanating from the photo.

Dave forwarded the message to Gideon then handed his phone to Katie.

"Ok, ok, you were right and I was wrong" she grins happy to be proven wrong about this…


 

Emily settled into the rhythm of having a newborn easily. The first few weeks were always the hardest as the baby found it's routine and she adjusted her own schedule to go with it.

One thing she had never taken into account was having a partner to parent with. She struggled to accept Nathan's help with the baby, as good as her Mother had been when Skylar was a newborn Elizabeth had always left the parenting to Emily, stepping in as a grandmother but never primary carer. She was never alone for those sleepy early morning feeds, Nathan woke with her... sometimes they spoke in low murmurs about everything and nothing and other times the only noise came from the baby. He was always touching her in some way. A hand resting on her knee or holding the two of them close against his chest.

"Elena didn't like getting up with Jamie..." Nathan admits quietly sometime around 3am one morning "I did all his night time feeds..."

"Hmmm..." Emily doesn't like to comment when Nathan tells her things like this about his ex Jamie had been calling her mom for months now but she knew it wasn't her place to judge his birth mother.

Nights like these she wondered if any of her grown up children would ever call Nathan Dad... she'd never voiced this question to any of them leaving the decision for them alone.

Six weeks into her maternity leave Emily calls Hotch and tells him that once her 12 weeks is up to start using her personal leave and when that runs out she's happy to go on unpaid leave. Between her trust, Nathan's wage and pension they can survive comfortably. She'll be back eventually...

She's not worrying about it right then, content to hang with Hannah, do the school run for Jamie and let Nathan dote on the two of them.

Hannah hits the three month mark just before school breaks up for the summer. Nathan and Dashiell both manage to get leave and they head up to Vermont for a week. Elizabeth meets them there half way through the week, she and Carson happily dote over the baby while Emily, Nathan and the kids run a little wild over the fields.

By the time Hannah is six months old she feel's a little more ready to go back to work. She really doesn't want to be separated from the baby for any length of time and seriously considers simply not going back to the BAU.

October rolls around and she heads back to work just as the team locates Declan Doyle and Klara Porter miraculously returns to life.

By the time they return from 3 days in Oklahoma Emily is a mess.

She officially hates traveling with a baby at home, she can't comprehend how JJ and Hotch have done it all these years.

By the time they're wandering around San Francisco trying to find the Zodiac copy cat she's ready to start looking for a transfer. The rest of the team is celebrating Reid's birthday but she's holding herself back. Hotch sidles up to her with a knowing look.

"I'll let you know if I hear about any decent transfer options in the DC area for you" he murmurs. Emily doesn't know how he knew but she is grateful she doesn't have to explain it to him.

"I knew when you extended your leave I'd loose you eventually. They all know it as well, they're just not willing to admit it yet."

"Thank you..." she smiles and heads over to get a piece of cake and pick on Spencer for getting old.

She might leave the BAU but she'll never leave the team.


 

Facing down with Regina Lampert undoes her in a way none of them anticipated.

"You have no idea what it's like when the monster from your nightmares comes back for you"

Emily wants to tell Regina she does... her monster didn't just come back for her but for her daughter as well. Her monster has haunted her for over 20 years... she see's him in the faces of her children, the faces of men she passes... her own face when the darkness in her eyes overwhelms her. There are nights where the dreams are so real and so vivid she rolls out of bed tears her clothes off and kneels until Nathan and can convince her he's not Knight.

She tries not to engage, to shutter her feelings and her past but Regina must sense a kinship, an intrinsic understanding of the inhumanity that's been waged against the person sitting in front of you.

"What did you do to him, huh? Did you arrest him like a good FBI agent? Or did you kill him?"

Emily breathing picks up, to engage in this conversation is unprofessional and she knows Hotch is watching her closely ready to intervene if necessary. Despite the attitude and anger she can feel Regina screaming out for something... validation. She is screaming for Emily's approval at her vengeance.

Not just Emily... anyone.

"Neither" in the early day's revenge had never occurred to Emily. She was too busy trying to repair the damage done to her psyche and by the time enough repairs had been done she was too busy living.

"I stood up at his trial and told my story... I sat in the witness box for 3 days and the next time he leaves prison it will be in a coffin."

Regina doesn't get her validation... but a seed tries to take root... floating in the back her mind, the idea of vengeance. She hates it, she doesn't want it or need it.

On the way home Emily locks herself in the bathroom and spends most of the trip clutching her phone to her ear as Anita Trewlynn's calm and gentle voice echo's through patiently coaching her through taking one breath after another. It shouldn't be so hard but it is.

Once they land it takes Dave 20 minutes to coax her out. The team watches her descend the stairs with worried eyes. Nathan is waiting with the car, she slides into the backseat next to Hannah and spends the entire 45 minute drive home with a gentle hand on the baby not saying a word.

"Take her home and put her to bed, call me when she's up in the morning and I'll see her then. She's exhausted and needs a good nights sleep more than she needs to talk to me."

Emily doesn't really sleep that night, dozing in bed Hannah comfortably curled up on her chest the weight of the baby centering her better than anything else.

Nathan calls in sick to work, and Hotch leaves a message telling Emily to call when she's ready to come back.

It's been years since something knocked her this off kilter, the psychiatrist assures him. It only ever lasts a day or two before she evens out. The last time was nearly 10 years previous when her father turned up looking for money... again.

She's honest with Hotch about what happened and agrees to stick to victimology for next next few cases.

"Just... let me know if you're having a bad day." he asks as he scans Dr Trewlynn's report. Emily, despite rumour to the contrary wasn't one to return to work if she wasn't fit for duty.

A week after Hannah's first birthday Katie Cole calls her.

"I heard a rumour you're looking to transfer to a non-travel position?"

"Yeah" Emily confirms "I admire the hell out of Hotch and JJ for being able to travel with young kids all this time but it's just too hard on me."

"I could use a profiler with your experience..."

Emily hums noncommittally it sounds good but she knows CETaF travel.

"... no travel..." Katie confirms "We only travel for the big emergent stuff anyway. Hell you can keep your desk in Quantico if you want, come up to Baltimore one or two days a week and work from the academy the rest of the time."

Emily is sold and they chat for a while and nut out a few more details. She just needs to chat with Hotch to find out when he can release her.

Hotch asks for eight more weeks and then he'll send her to CETaF with a smile. He was not looking forward to all the applications that would be flying his way when word got out about a vacancy in the BAU.

It was strange sitting in the crowd with her youngest daughter just starting toddlerhood while her oldest daughter graduated college. A week later she nearly gets blown up... twice.

Kneeling beside Will La Montagne racking her brain... unlike Morgan she's never taken the 'how to disarm a bomb' class.

"What are you doing? Seriously, Emily, go!" She can feel the stress radiating off Will and it's damn distracting.

Doing her best to block him out she talks herself through the profile and what they know of their UnSubs. Chad, valentines, Izzy, Hotch... Hotch? 'Shut up... I'm working' she thinks as she rips the comm out of her ear.

"Red, yellow and blue... only one is different from the U.S. flag... Yellow..." clenching her eyes shut she sends good thoughts to Nathan... her kids... the universe... whatever deity has kept her alive all these years and cuts the wire...

Dave let's her in on the secret and Emily manages to convince all three of her kids to make the last minute trip to DC for the wedding. It's been so long since they've all let loose on the dance floor together and she can't wait.

Her eight weeks is up... Katie has managed to secure her an office on the same floor as the rest of the BAU so when the farewell decorations come out and the cupcakes are oohed and ahhed over then eaten Emily picks up her box of personal belongings and heads to what could in all honesty be considered a cupboard.

It takes her a few weeks to find her place in the new team. Monday's and Friday's are spent in Baltimore with the rest of the unit, the rest at Quantico.

Katie doesn't bring up the past and is grateful for the new perspective Emily brings to her team.

She's both looking forward to and dreading Skylar's upcoming 21st birthday. For the first time she won't have any secrets from her children but given the extreme differences between the older two's reactions she's really unsure of how Skylar will take it.

Like the other's she waits until the celebrations are through and sits down alone with her daughter. Emily knows Dashiell, Cora and Nathan are waiting outside.

"It's time you knew the truth about you and your siblings. I told them after their 21st birthdays and now it's your turn. Jamie and Hannah are never to be told."

Skylar blinked up at her, dark eyes full of trepidation, shaking hands gripping the folder Emily had just handed her.

"This is what sent Cora nuts just after her 21st... when she stopped speaking to you?"

"Yeah..." Emily swallowed hard "it's not... an easy thing for me to tell you and it won't be easy for you to hear either."

Skylar nodded and took a deep breath steeling herself.

"It's about your biological father... he's not dead... he's in prison..." Emily proceeded to tell Skylar the whole story.

Staying late at the library so she wouldn't be disappointed if her father didn't show up, waking up in the room... living in hell for four years... Dave rescuing them... choosing to keep her children with her, choosing to raise and love them.

Skylar sat there in silence, her face blank struggling to comprehend what her mother was telling her. When Emily finally trailed off she waited for a reaction...

One breath... two... then three.

Skylar launched herself over the coffee table and slammed into Emily with a sob. It's awkward when her fully grown daughter tries to crawl into her lap like she did as a child but somehow they manage it.

She is sobbing and babbling unintelligibly and Emily can only make out the occasional word. Most of them are sorry...

When Skylar finally calms down enough to actually hear what Emily has to say she put's her lips right up to her ears.

"You listen to me..." her voice is choked by her own tears "you don't get to apologise to me for your existence... yes it was hard... yes there has been some very bad day's... it's been nearly 22 years and I still have nightmares and panic attacks... but there has been so much good... so so much love and laughter and it out weighs the bad ten fold. You are mine... Cora and Dashiell are mine, not his, never his... do you hear me?"

Skylar didn't move, just kept clinging to Emily.

"Do you hear me?"

"I hear you..."


 

That night they went to a local fair Skylar had heard about.

Emily is never sure how but the 7 of them manage to cram themselves into a photo booth.

Of the three tiny photo's the machine spits out the first is her favourite. She and Nathan are in the centre... faces pressed close together grins wide and free. Skylar and Cora are practically sitting on their knees arms around their shoulders Hannah secure between her big sisters... matching grins and dimples. Dashiell is holding Jamie behind them, their boys making faces and giving the parents bunny ears.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise

I rise.


 

In case you're wondering ages for the kids.

Dashiell: Born 10th March 1988, 24

Cora: Born 1st November 1989, 22

Skylar: Born 15th June 1991, 21

Jamie: Born 21st September 2002, 9

Hannah: Born 11th March 2011, 15 months