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Two Roads Diverged

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The Last Word

Emily marched through the door in a huff. She didn't have a chance to slam the door behind her before Declan came racing towards her to wrap himself around her legs. "Mommy!" he cried, overjoyed to see her like she'd been gone a month.

She very much wanted to be in a bitter mood after the morning she'd had, but it was hard when two big blue eyes were staring up at her, full of so much love. She sighed relentingly and bent down to pick him up, pressing kisses all over his face, leaving little red lipstick marks all over his still chubby cheeks, until he was giggling uncontrollably and breathlessly begging her to stop.

"I missed you," he said seriously, trying to wipe off the kiss marks, but only succeeding in smearing them. "You were gone forever!"

"I missed you more," she replied, tapping his nose.

"No way!" he retorted.

"Yes way!" she said right back. They had this debate every time she came home. "Say it or I'll tickle you..."

"Nu-uh!" he squealed.

At that moment, Ian emerged from his office. "You're home," he said, brows high on his forehead in surprise. "I wasn't expecting you to be back so early."

And, just as quickly, her sullen mood returned. She pursed her lips in irritation, struggling to keep in a few choice words she didn't want her son to hear. "There was some kind of mix up. He didn't know I was coming. Apparently, there is no position."

"What?" he asked, indignant on her behalf. They'd moved to DC specifically on the promise of this position. "Did they already fill it?"

She shook her head. "He said they didn't approve any transfers. He didn't say it, but he clearly thinks my parents pulled some strings or I'm some kind of rookie who couldn't get in on my own merit." Her eyes blazed – there was nothing she hated more than people assuming she didn't pave her own way in the world simply because of her name.

"That's ridiculous," he scoffed. "I thought Easter wrote you a glowing recommendation?"

Clyde had basically promised her any job she wanted when she'd left Interpol, even if he wasn't exactly thrilled with her choice to shack up with Ian and raise his son as her own. "He did, but I don't think that's the problem. I heard what happened with the last new hire. He seems to have issue with trusting any woman."

"The guy's some kind of misogynist?"

She shrugged, let out a huffy breath through her nose.

He ran a hand through her hair and pulled her in for a kiss. "I'm sorry, Love. I know how badly you wanted that job." His lips contorted in a wicked grin. "I know how to make you feel better..." he murmured close to her ear.

She attempted a laugh, but it came out high and squeaky as the implications of his words traveled straight to her core. "There are children present..." she reminded him, even though she suddenly wanted nothing more than him between her legs.

"Isn't it nap time, Declan?" Ian asked, eyes never leaving Emily's.

"No!" Declan whined in protest because he was five and thought he shouldn't have to take naps anymore.

"I'm afraid so, buddy," Emily confirmed, checking her watch.

"But I want to play with Mommy," he said, pouting, crossing his little arms over his chest.

"I'll be here when you wake up," she promised, kissing his forehead.

"Promise?" He batted his eyes up at her.


Once the boy was safely tucked in bed and the bedroom door closed behind them, Ian's lips were instantly attached to her neck, travelling up to her ear. Patience had never been his strong suit.

"What are you doing?" she husked, tilting her head so he had better access to the sensitive spots along her neck, the ones that made her tremble and sent heat coursing through her body. He knew each and every one of them and was able to reduce her to a needy mess without even touching her clit and he wasn't afraid to do so at the most inappropriate of times. On more than one occasion, he'd turned her on so thoroughly that she'd been unable to resist fucking him in a public bathroom.

"I think you know exactly what I'm doing," he replied and she could hear the shit-eating grin on his face. One hand travelled up to palm her breast, kneading the sensitive flesh through her sweater.

She groaned faintly, eyes fluttering shut. "I need..." she started to ask, all pretense of resisting him vanished.

He pinched her nipple, effectively killing any intelligent thought she might have had. "Yes?" he taunted. "What do you need?"

She gripped his wrist, fingers clinging on for dear life, and moved his hand under her skirt to cup her through her panties. She let out a breath of relief at the much-needed contact.

He chuckled at her eagerness, already damp beneath his hand. "Naughty girl," he whispered in her ear, tickling her clit through the lacy fabric making her gasp sharply.

"So naughty," she agreed readily. She would've agreed with just about anything at that moment, so long as he kept touching her. His teasing fingers made her buck against him and she could feel him hard against her ass, straining against the seams of his khakis. He let out a rasping breath at the friction, one hand gripping tightly at her hip, keeping her ass flush against him. "What are you going to do about it?" she asked, his words doing just as much to turn her on as his touch.

He smirked. She'd always been a mouthy little thing in bed – Emily much more so than Lauren. "You want me to teach you a lesson?" He pulled her skirt up so the fabric was bunched around her hips.

"Yes, please," she whispered, not trusting her voice.

In one movement, he pulled down her panties and pushed her forwards so that she was forced to support herself against the bedroom door.

She gave a little cry of surprise.

"Hush," he scolded, "Don't want to wake the boy." For good measure, he slapped her ass, hard enough to leave a reddened imprint of his hand on the pale skin. She was forced to swallow down the cry it produced as she didn't, in fact, want to wake Declan who was sleeping on the other side of the thin wooden door.

"Touch yourself," he demanded as he pulled out his cock, pumping his hand up and down a few times as he stood back to admire the sight of her bent over, ass presented so nicely, ready and waiting for his cock.

She didn't need to be told twice. One hand traced down to her dripping pussy, two fingers slipping inside, pumping messily in and out. She knew he loved the sound of her fingers sliding about in her juices.

"God, Em..." he growled, stroking his cock in time with her movements, smearing himself with the precum that dribbled out. "You ready?" he asked when he could no longer stand to watch – he needed to be inside her, to come inside her.

"Fuck me, Ian!" she demanded, bracing herself against the door to prepare for the force of his thrusts.

"You've got a filthy mouth," he chided as he lined himself up and pushed himself into her. She was so hot and snug around him he could barely stand it.

She keened softly as he pushed himself in to the hilt. "Fuck, Ian, yes!" He had a big cock and he knew exactly how to use it; she'd had more than her fair share of lovers and he was easily the best she'd ever had.

He started moving within her, panting slightly with the exertion as he fucked her hard from behind, the sound of his balls slapping against her ass echoing down the hallway. She liked it from behind. It reminded her of the first time they'd fucked – in the alley behind the Black Shamrock.

"Harder, Ian," she begged, "Harder, please!"

He groaned, head tilting back as he obliged, plunging in deeper until he was flush against her ass with every thrust. He snaked a hand around to her clit, calloused fingers working against the sensitive nerves.

She couldn't help but moan at the contact, on the edge of orgasm, barely keeping herself from falling. He'd been known to punish her if she came before he'd given her permission. She'd been known to deliberately come so he had to punish her...

"Quiet!" he scolded, taking his hand away in punishment.

She whimpered softly, sinking her teeth into her lip hard enough to break the skin. "Ian..." she pleaded.

He couldn't help but chuckle at her desperation. While he was very fond of teasing her and had more than once left her on the edge of coming without giving her release, he didn't toy with her today. "Come for me, Love," he coaxed, returning his fingers to her clit, "Come on..."

"Yes, Ian," she sighed in relief. The feel of him was too good to resist now that she had the permission she needed. She had to clap a hand to her mouth to hold back the sounds she couldn't help but make.

He sank his teeth into the exposed skin where her neck met her shoulder as he sped up his pace, pounding into her relentlessly, to keep quiet the sounds of his own pleasure. The fact that his teeth would leave a mark was just a bonus.

When she came, it was with a cry muffled by her hand and her cunt tightening around him, making him come quickly afterwards, milking him for every drop.

As he pulled out of her, he pressed tender kisses to the bite marks he'd left in her skin. He'd never been shy about marking her as his and she couldn't say that she minded all that much, even if it meant that her turtlenecks got more wear than the rest of her wardrobe.

"Do you think he managed to sleep through that?" she asked, pulling down her skirt and smoothing out the creases.

"Lord, I hope so," he said, grinning smugly like he wasn't sorry at all.

She just shook her head, silently deciding that it was his responsibility to explain what they'd been doing if he'd heard.

"You should go back," he said, apropos of nothing. She looked at him quizzically. "I know're still determined to get that job. Show them that fire. Show them that you deserve the job. Show them that you refuse to take no for an answer. It's never stopped you before..."

"You're probably right," she agreed, chewing a nail thoughtfully.

"I usually am," he said with a smirk. He pulled her hand away from her mouth, kissing the back of her knuckles tenderly.

She laughed and pulled him in to kiss him hard. "I'm going to get that job," she said determinedly.

Chapter Text

Lessons Learned

It was only her first case with the BAU and Emily was already feeling like a bad mother.

By the barest of margins, she'd missed Declan's first school play. She'd desperately wanted to go, but she couldn't exactly leave work early, considering she was literally in Guantanamo Bay. By the time the plane touched down in DC, the play was over and she was sure she'd likely lost Declan's trust for years to come. She may or may not have cried in the car on the way home.

When she got home, Ian had left her a note telling her he had it covered and not to worry, but she decided she'd worry anyway because that's just who she was as a person. She was irrationally jealous of Ian sometimes because he got to be the one that stayed home with Declan while she was out hunting monsters; she knew it was the only way, Ian couldn't exactly go out and get a nine to five with his history, but that didn't stop her from being bitter about the whole thing.

Declan had pitched a minor fit about her starting work because he was afraid of exactly this happening. He was very much a Mommy's boy and he wanted her to be there for every single important moment in his life (his idea of an important moment didn't always match hers, considering that just last week he'd made her take a picture of him with a sandwich he'd made all by himself...she'd obliged and didn't even point out the jam on every surface within the boy's reach). She'd repeatedly assured him she wouldn't miss anything important and even pinky swore on the matter and now she'd made a liar of herself.

She'd barely had time to make herself a late dinner when she heard Ian's car pulling into the driveway. "Declan Oisin Doyle, stay in your seat or so help me, God..." she heard Ian threaten, trailing off because he didn't have a PG way to end the sentence. At five the boy should really know better, but she forgave him because he was excited to see her and if that made her a pushover, well, she was okay with that.

"Daddy," the boy scoffed like he knew the threat was empty. He was getting a little sassy for Ian's liking and Emily would never admit that she found the entire thing rather hilarious while simultaneously living in fear of his teenage years. If he grew up to be like either one of them, they were in for a hard row to hoe.

Declan came bursting through the door still in costume, clambered into Emily's lap and she prepared herself for a hug, but he instead hollered in her face, "Mommy!" Then, he proceeded to start eating the macaroni and cheese she'd made for herself. Her face fell a little at the lackluster greeting, but his back was turned so he didn't notice.

He wasn't ordinarily this loud and obnoxious – in spite of Ian's overwhelming personality, his son was quiet and laidback most of the time – so Emily knew the boy had too much sugar running through his system.

Ian came trudging into the kitchen shortly after, looking every bit his age and then some. He sank into a chair and covered his eyes with his hand and for a split second, Emily thought he might be crying. She knew better than to say anything before he'd had a strong glass of whiskey, though, so she didn't comment. Ian may have wanted a large family, but he just was not meant to be around more than five children at a time.

"Mommy! I did the best job in the school play!" Declan said between bites of pasta, cheese sauce already smeared around his mouth.

"I'm sure you did, Buddy," Emily said, trying (and failing) to sneak a bite of her dinner around him. She pressed a kiss to his head. "I wish I could've been there to see it." There would be other plays, she knew, other soccer games and field trips and graduations, but this one was the first and that mattered to her. She didn't want to set a precedent of her missing important moments.

"It's okay," he said with a magnanimous shrug and a mouthful of food. "I'm not mad." And it felt like a knife through her heart. Upset and anger she could handle, but her son not wanting her? Not needing her? She didn't think she could survive that. "I was mad, but Daddy took me for ice cream after." If the orange and black smear staining the front of his shirt was any evidence, he had the tiger flavour she never let him get for precisely that reason.

Emily gave Ian a stern look and he just shrugged like it couldn't be helped. She couldn't decide if she was mad that he took their son for ice cream before dinner or that she was only worth an ice cream cone in her son's eyes.

"You bribed him to love me again with an ice cream cone?" she asked, one brow quirked somewhere between amusement and annoyance.

"An ice cream cone saved my sanity," he said deadpan, pouring himself a generous tumbler of whiskey. "I sincerely hope he hasn't been bitten by the acting bug because if I never have to go to another one of those, it'll be too soon." He tossed back a healthy swig of the amber liquid like it was the fountain of youth and he was taking his dying breath.

Emily knew Ian loved his son more than life itself - he did - but he also wasn't exactly cut out for all the little details of parenting, like silently suffering through terrible kindergarten plays and then acting like it was akin to watching Brando perform Streetcar.

"I'm so jealous," she said with all sincerity, resigning herself to the fact that she wasn't going to get any of her dinner.

"Mommy! Mommy, are you listening to me?" Declan demanded, all benevolent dictator in a cardboard crown. He clanged his fork against the table to get her attention.

"Hanging on every word," she promised.

"We're learning fairy tales, so we did The Paper Bag Princess and I was the Prince, even though I wanted to be the dragon 'cause the Prince isn't very nice and at the end the Princess gets to say Bum!" He dissolved into peals of giggles and Emily couldn't help but chuckle along with him, giving Ian a your son is fucking weird expression. "We singed–"

"Sang," she corrected.

"–singed," he repeated in spite of her correction, "songs and everyone clapped. And then Joey falled–"


"–off the stage."

"Was he hurt?"

"No. So it was funny," Declan said seriously. He nodded once, satisfied with his assessment. "Everyone laughed."

"Declan!" she reprimanded. "That's unkind. You wouldn't want people to laugh if you fell and hurt yourself."

"What?" he said, seeming genuinely confused, "Daddy said it was funny. He laughed."

"Ian..." she groaned, rolling her eyes.

He smiled at her over the rim of his glass. "What?" he says, bewildered by her annoyance. "It was. He landed on his back and couldn't get back up again."

She just shook her head, sighing dramatically because this was the man she'd given up her career for, the man she'd changed her entire life for. A man who, despite having previously been an internationally wanted criminal, had become a stay-at-home dad who went to school plays and bribed her son into loving her again so she could have the career she'd spent the better part of her adult life working towards. And she was willing to bet it probably was pretty funny to watch a child in a cardboard dragon costume fall on the floor like a turtle, so she was going to let his immature laughter slide.

At bedtime, Emily contorted herself to fit next to Declan in his bottom bunk at his insistence. It wasn't particularly comfortable, but she still hadn't quite forgiven herself, so she considered that part of her penance.

They read The Paper Bag Princess so Declan could read his parts so it would feel like she was there and Emily appreciated his attempt to make her feel better. He was still wearing his cardboard crown, along with his Spiderman pyjamas because 'Spiderman could be a prince if he wanted to, Mommy'.

Afterwards, they took turns yelling, "HEY DRAGOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNN!" until Ian stuck his head into the room and looked at them like they were nuts, causing Declan to giggle uproariously.

As they settled into sleepy silence, Declan whispered, "I was really mad at you today. Really mad. Really really mad. I told Daddy I was never gonna talk to you again 'cause you lied. I said the dragon should eat you up 'stead of the Prince. But Daddy said not to be mad at you 'cause you didn't mean it and then he got me ice cream."

"It's okay if you want to be mad at me, Schnecke." The boy had gone through a period where he found snails to be the most interesting thing in the world, much to Emily's chagrin, so she'd started using the German word for snail as a nickname for him and he was eternally delighted by it. "You're allowed to feel what you feel. I was mad at myself too and I'm really sorry I didn't keep my promise. I'll try not to do it again, but I'm not going to promise because sometimes I'm going to miss things and disappoint you and I hope you'll forgive me again." She didn't add that if it took ice cream to forgive her every time, she might start taking it personally.

He shrugged and burrowed under the covers until only his eyes were peeking out above the quilt. "I'm done being mad now. Can you read Mortimer?" Mortimer was his second favourite because they got to yell, "MORTIMER, BE QUIET!" His third favourite was Mud Puddle because they got to yell, "HEY MUD PUDDLE!"

She was well and truly exhausted by the time she crawled into bed next to Ian. "I'm still a good mother, right?" she asked, snuggling into his side so that he could wrap an arm around her.

He kissed the top of her head. "Of course you are, Love," he said like it was the most ridiculous question in the world. "You're the only mother he's ever known and he loves you like crazy."

"Even when I screw up?" she asked.

"Maybe especially then because he sees that you're human too."

"What am I the rest of the time?" she asked with a quirked brow.

"You're a super hero. You're his super hero. He told all his friends that you weren't there because you were catching bad guys like Wonder Woman."

"Really?" she asked with a half-laugh, half-sob because nothing got her quite so emotional as her son.

He nodded. "That boy loves you more than you will ever know."

"And what about you?"

"I'd love you more if you dressed up like Wonder Woman," he said a look of complete seriousness on his face, one hand wandering up her thigh.

She punched him in the shoulder, but kissed him anyway. "Maybe tomorrow," she conceded because she's not opposed to a little role playing, but she's exhausted and her throat is sore from yelling, "HEY DRAGOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNN."

She doesn't know how she ended up with this life, this strange chaotic messy suburban life of school plays and macaroni and cheese, but she thanks God every day that she has it.

Ian's smirk is entirely too mischievous for her liking, but he kisses her chastely anyway as he whispers good night against her lips.

Chapter Text

Sex, Birth, Death

Ian stood in the doorway to Declan's room, watching the two most important people in his life.

Declan had already been asleep when Emily had gotten home from work, but she couldn't resist saying good night to him anyway – she always said good night, no matter what.

He tried not to make a habit of letting the boy stay up past his bedtime, but in all the time she'd been in their lives, he'd never gone to sleep without saying good night to Emily first. And when he'd tried to put him to bed, Declan had been absolutely inconsolable over the absence of her. In the end, he figured that since it wasn't a school night, there was no real harm in letting the boy stay awake until Emily arrived home.

For her part, though she tried to act annoyed that he'd let him stay up, he could tell that Emily was glad she could say good night to him. But when she went into his bedroom, she found him splayed haphazardly across the bed, simply too tuckered out to stay awake long enough.

She'd laughed quietly at his awkward sleeping position, even if her smile was a little sad and he could read her thoughts a mile away: he doesn't need me anymore. She'd pulled his blankets up over top of him, tucking him in with tenderness that only a mother possesses.

She sat on the edge of the bed, stroking his soft curls. "I missed you today," she told his sleeping form. "I missed you so much, Schnecke."

"He missed you too, Love," Ian said quietly, announcing his presence, even though he knew she knew he'd been watching her. He crossed the room to rest a hand on her shoulder. "He wanted so badly to stay awake for you."

She reached across her body to squeeze his hand. She looked up at him with tender eyes and a soft smile. "I missed you too..."

"I know."

He wondered sometimes, how he'd ended up with all this. How an undercover agent sent to ruin him had instead wound up loving his son and accepting him as her own, loving him... He was admittedly a lapsed Catholic, but everyday he thanked God for giving him her.

She picked up the stuffed snail she'd had specially made for him up off the floor where it had slipped from his grasp and tucked it under his arm. He slept with it every night without fail. She kissed Declan on the forehead and whispered to him, "Never stop loving me this much."

"Marry me."

Emily laughed a little around a mouthful of toothpaste. Putting away her toothbrush, she spit into the sink and spun around to give him a you're being ridiculous look and instead of playful teasing, found his expression entirely serious. "What are you talking about, Ian?"

"Marry me," he said again. "I want you to be my wife."

She pounced on the bed, crawling up so she was straddling his hips. She wrapped her fingers around his, staring down at his hands as if afraid to see what was in his eyes. "We've talked about it – I told you, I'm not the marrying type."

With one hand, he tipped up her chin to look into her eyes. "Lauren wasn't," he corrected, "But you...I think you could be convinced."

She unconsciously reached up to toy with the ring hanging around her neck. "Who said I want to marry you?" she challenged, unable to resist teasing him just a little, if only because his grin was entirely too sure of himself.

"You wouldn't be here if you didn't – you gave up everything to be with me..." he pointed out.

She chewed her lip thoughtfully. He had a point. She'd given up any future she'd had with Interpol or the CIA. She'd cut off ties with her family, knowing they wouldn't understand. She'd lost her friendships with her team – including a quasi-romantic relationship with Clyde – because they definitely had not understood.

But she'd also gained a family and she found it really hard to regret that, no matter what the cost had been.

She sighed dramatically, but couldn't help the mischievous smile tugging at the corners of her lips. "Fine. I'll marry you."

He pulled her down to kiss her properly. She giggled as he rolled her underneath him, pinning her down as he kissed her. He removed the chain from around her neck so that he could slip the ring onto her finger.

He kissed her knuckles softly. "So, you want to officially be a Doyle?"

She laughed. "Oh, I'll be keeping my name, Mister."

Then, little footsteps were heard at the door, interrupting anything risque that might have followed, considering the fact that his hand was already travelling up her thigh.

Ian sighed dramatically, rolling off her and attempting to hide his hard on under a pillow. "C'mere, Declan," he beckoned.

The boy scampered across the room and up onto the bed, burrowing between them. "Mommy didn't say good night to me," he said with a dramatic pout.

"I did too," Emily replied. "You fell asleep, so you didn't know it, but I promise I did."

He frowned, eyes narrowed in disbelief and in that moment, she swore father and son had never looked more alike.

She changed the subject, asking, "Do you want me to marry Daddy?"

"Marry?" he repeated.

"We'll be a real family," Ian explained.

"Me too?" he asked, not wanting to be left out.

"Yes, you're part of the family too, Buddy," Emily agreed.

"Okay," he said with a shrug, not really understanding.

Emily laughed, mussing his hair. "A family," she echoed softly, eyes crinkling at the sides with her smile. "My boys."

Declan quickly lost interest in the matter. "Can you tuck me in?" he asked, tugging on the hem of her shirt. "And read me Mortimer?" She scooped him into her arms, pressing kisses to his face until he dissolved into a fit of giggles.

"Hurry back..." Ian called after her, voice laden with implication of exactly what he was going to do to her when she returned.

Chapter Text

Profiler, Profiled

Emily couldn't sleep.

It was late at night – or very early morning – and she was lying wide awake, staring at the ceiling of some Chicago hotel room, counting the holes in the tiles, while JJ snored faintly in the next bed. She wondered how she did it – how she seemingly dropped off to sleep with but a few moments of tossing and turning. She supposed it came with practice, with years of cases and night after night away from home.

She wasn't yet used to being far from home, without Ian's form warm against her back and gentle snores by her ear to soothe her to sleep when her mind was racing long into the night. Occasionally, when she had a particularly bad sleepless night, he would lie awake with her, stroking her hair and singing old Irish lullabies in her ear in his soft brogue. Sometimes, she wondered how she'd ever slept without him.

She rolled over and glanced at the clock beside the bed reading two AM. In a little under four hours, the alarm would go off and she'd have to start her day without a minute of sleep to show for the night.

She knew Ian would still be awake, in spite of the late hour. When she wasn't home, he often stayed up late into the night – he used to use that time to do business before she'd gotten him out, but she didn't know what he used that time for anymore and she never asked.

She quietly dialled his number, just wanting to hear his voice and pretend he were there next to her.

"What are you still doing awake, Love?" he asked by way of answering the call, voice gravelly with whiskey.

"Thinking of you," she whispered. She hadn't thought she'd miss him as much as she did.

He chuckled, low in his throat. "Oh, really?" She didn't need to see his face to know the exact expression on it, that mischievous but undeniably charming grin that never failed to send heat coursing straight through her.

"Not like that," she chastized, but unable to help the smile quirking the corners of her lips or the sudden wetness from pooling between her legs.

"Are you touching yourself?" he asked, voice husky with arousal.

"Do you want me to?" she asked, teasing him, knowing full well the answer.

She could hear the sound of him undoing his zipper, followed by a soft groan and she imagined him taking his cock in his hand and stroking himself slowly. The image thrilled her a little.

"Always," he answered, voice broken by grunts of pleasure as he stroked himself.

She laughed softly, deciding to oblige him since she was awake anyway. If anything, an orgasm or two would help soothe her to sleep. "Tell me how..." she breathed into the phone in that tone she knew he found irresistible.

"Two fingers. Nice and slow. Don't you dare touch your clit, Emily," he ordered.

She whimpered softly in protest, but obeyed nonetheless, slowly slipping her hand below the waistband of her panties, sinking two fingers inside herself with a soft keening sound. She was wet already, unsure if it was from Ian's voice or the thought of getting herself off while JJ slumbered a bed away, not even a wall between them. She had a bit of an exhibitionist streak that Ian loved.

"They're my fingers," he told her. "Tell me how they feel."

She groaned, imagining the feel of him knuckle deep inside her. "They're rough and...and thick and, God, they feel good," she described, panting slightly as her fingers slipped in and out.

She sped up her ministrations, hips bucking and writhing in time with his ragged breathing. She had to sink her teeth into her bottom lip to keep from crying out as her fingers hit just the right spot, sending shock waves through her body. Her heart rate spiked sharply and she could feel her face flushing with the effort of restraining herself when all she wanted to do was come then and there. But she knew she had to wait for his permission.

She heard him groan and she couldn't help the breathy little chuckle she let out, imagining him, cock in hand, face contorted in ecstasy. She wished she were there, her hand wrapped around his meaty cock or, better yet, her lips, bringing him off.

"Use one hand on your tits, Love," he demanded and she could hear in his voice the effort of holding back his climax.

She whimpered softly at the command, pressing her phone between her shoulder and her ear because she couldn't put it on speaker. She massaged one breast through her shirt with rough uncareful fingers like he would've, never one for softness, for gentleness. That was fine with her, as she liked it rough and he knew it. She rolled one nipple between her fingers until it was swollen and pebbled and she had to fight back a moan of pleasure. "Yes, Ian!"

"You like that, don't you?" he taunted. "Don't stop. Keep fucking yourself, just like that."

"It feels so good," she purred, unable to stop even if she'd wanted to. Her cunt was tightening around her fingers in response to her pinching her nipples and she knew it wouldn't be much longer before she couldn't keep her orgasm back any longer.

"Are you wet for me?" Ian asked, voice raspy with arousal and liquor.

"So wet," she husked. She popped her fingers into her mouth, the taste of her arousal on her tongue, and slicked them up before slipping them back into her dripping pussy, fucking herself harder and faster.

He hummed low in his throat. "I want that hot cunt..."

"Fuck," she hissed, scissoring her fingers inside herself. "I want you inside me. Please, Ian, let me touch my clit..."

He growled. "Emily..." he said warningly.

"Please, Ian...I need..."

"You'll wait for permission," he said sharply. Emily wasn't submissive in her everyday life, but when it came to sex, she loved to let him have complete control. She knew it turned him on to have her completely subservient to his every need and whim.

"Yes, Ian," she said softly, obediently.

"What was that?" he asked.

"Yes, Ian," she repeated louder.

She knew his expression would be smug if she were able to see it. "Tell me what you want, Love," he drawled, entirely too pleased with himself.

"I want you to shove your dick inside me," she whispered, adding another finger to better fill her aching need, "Over and over and you're stretching me so good – ah – it h-hurts, but I fucking love it."

He hissed and she knew he was struggling not to come at the visual of her crude words.

"You're fucking me so hard and I'm screaming your name and you hit that sweet spot and...oh, Ian, fuck me with that hot fucking cock and fill me with that sweet cum," she begged.

"You have a filthy fucking mouth, Emily – I fucking love it." She could hear the sloppy sound of his dick slicked with precum sliding in and out of his grip and it sent a thrill coursing through her.

"You want to come, I can tell," she teased. "Let me touch my clit and we can come together. Please?"

"Alright, Em, touch your clit. Imagine it's me."

"Fuck, Ian, Ian..." she chanted, hips thrusting in time with her fingers inside herself over and over, thumb furiously rubbing her clit until she was on the verge of climax.

"Come for me," he ordered. "Come all over your fingers just like you would my cock."

Finally, she could stand it no longer and she clapped one hand over her mouth to stifle her cries and keep from waking JJ. She came with a muffled moan, back arching into her fingers, juices collecting in the palm of her hand.

He grunted her name as he came, listening to her ragged breathing. "Shame you had to stifle your always make me come so hard."

"Now I want your cock more than ever," she whined, satisfied, but wanting more.

"Patience, Love," he said with a laugh.

"I miss you," she said softly. Then, she heard the unmistakable sound of JJ waking up. "I've got to go. Love you."

JJ grumbled sleepily. "Were you saying something?" she asked, stretching her arms overhead.

"Nope. Maybe you were dreaming." She tried to inconspicuously wipe her juices off on her shorts. Aftershocks were still twitching inside her and she kind of wanted to touch herself a second time, thinking of Ian coming to the sound of her voice.

JJ mumbled indistinctly and rolled over to go back to sleep, but Emily wasn't sure she hadn't heard more than she'd let on.

Chapter Text

No Way Out

Emily arrived home from the sweltering heat of the Nevada desert to a deluge of snow and cancelled class.

Ian had been sequestered in the house for the better part of three days with a stir-crazy five year old who wanted nothing more than to play in the snow, so he was understandably going a little crazy and was hiding in his study when she arrived home.

(She didn't understand why he didn't just take Declan outside and when she asked later, he said it was because he couldn't find the boy's snow pants. When she pointed out that he could have just texted her and asked, he blinked blankly at her for a few moments like the thought hadn't occurred to him. "You're useless," she scoffed. "How you survived without me for so long, I'll never know." He just smiled and shook his head. She may have been right, but he wasn't about to admit that to her.)

The first words out of Declan's mouth after he'd climbed her like a monkey to wrap his little arms around her neck in greeting were, "I'm boooooooored!"

She settled the boy against her hip and affixed him with a raised brow. "Bored? You have a million and one toys to play with!"

"But I want to play outside," he whined, going limp like a rag doll, nearly causing her to lose her grip on him.

"Outside?" she said with mock incredulity. "You don't want to play outside, you want to do math homework."

"No!" he squealed in protest. "Outside!"

She pretended to think about it, screwing up her face in mock concentration. "How about eat broccoli?"

He stuck his tongue out. "Yuck!"

"Hmm... How about bake cookies?" she suggested.

Declan instantly perked up. "Really?" he asked suspiciously.

She laughed and tickled his sides. "No – you remember what happened last time..."

"Kaboom!" he exclaimed, miming a dramatic explosion.

Ian poked his head out of his study. "Hey!" he said, pretending to be stern. "There'll be no baking cookies in my kitchen. I don't fancy another visit from the fire department."

Emily rolled her eyes. "There was no fire and no explosion."

"Regardless..." Ian said, "I think we're probably all safer the further you are from the oven."

"Outside?" Declan suggested yet again.

"That's the best idea I've heard all day," Ian said, clapping him on the back.

"You two have fun," Emily said, passing Declan to his father.

"Mommy," the boy whined, "You have to come too!" Then he batted his eyes sweetly at her.

She pinched his cheek. "Stop being so cute," she said with a conceding sigh.

"He can't help it – gets it from me," Ian said with a wink. Emily just rolled her eyes and smiled because this was the family she'd chosen.

The first winter they'd spent in DC had been a miserable one, especially for Declan who had spent most of his life in the Tuscan countryside where the temperatures rarely dipped below freezing.

Keeping the then four year old entertained for an entire winter had been no easy feat after the first week or two once he'd exhausted his supply of books and movies and become bored with all his toys. She'd taken to telling him stories from her travels – about summer in Russia with a foot of snow on the ground, about Christmas in Saudi Arabia with not a flake of snow to be seen.

The stories enchanted him endlessly and he vowed that one day he would travel the world like she had. Emily had smiled indulgently and promised to take him anywhere he wanted to go, but first he had to go to bed.

Mostly, he just wanted to go outside.

"Can we go inside now?" Emily whined, wrapping her arms around herself to keep from shivering, in spite of her layers. "I'm cold!"

"Mooooommy," Declan hollered across the yard from where he was attempting to build an igloo. "You're not playing..."

"Sure, I am," she insisted, clumping snow together in a rather half-assed attempt to build a snowman. "See?"

He rolled his eyes dramatically at her in a way he'd definitely learned from her. "Mommy, that's the worst snowman ever."

"Hey!" She pouted. "I worked hard on that!"

"No, you didn't!" he insisted and she couldn't really argue with that.

"The boy's right," Ian piped up. "That's a terrible snowman, Love."

Emily affixed him with an 'are you serious?' stare. "Let's see yours, then."

He gestured weakly at his own very similar clump of snow.

"It looks just like mine!" she exclaimed, bewildered that he'd had the nerve to insult hers.

"Yes, but I actually tried."

She scowled, then stuck her tongue out at him childishly.

Declan put his hands on his hips and gave an exasperated sigh. "Guys... I wanna play!"

With a cheeky grin, Emily lobbed a weak snowball at the boy, hitting him square in the side of the head. "Like that?"

Declan let out a gleeful squeal, finally satisfied, then attempted to throw one back, though it fell several feet short.

"Don't worry, son, I've got her," Ian said, tackling Emily into a snowdrift and pinning her to the ground so Declan could hit her with a snowball. He ran over and pounced on Emily like a cat, mashing a snowball into her chest.

"You win!" Emily cried. "I give up!"

"What do you say, Declan?" Ian asked with a wink. Declan shook his head, smiling mischeivously as he prepared another snowball. "You heard the boy..." Ian said with a shrug as if it were out of his hands.

"Please? I'm cold and wet..." she begged. "I'll give you a kiss?"

Unable to resist, Ian leaned down to kiss her, quickly letting it get heated as was wont to happen when he had her pinned. Then, without warning, she stuffed a handful of snow down the back of his neck. She wriggled out from under him, laughing triumphantly, as she ran inside and shut and locked the door behind her.

Chapter Text

The Big Game

Emily stared at her reflection in the mirror as she curled her hair, determinedly ignoring Ian's silently fuming presence.

"I just don't understand why I can't come with you," he said yet again.

She attempted to avoid rolling her eyes. "You know full well why you can't come," she said flatly.

"It's been three years," he said pointedly.

"I know it has, but..." she started in on the familiar argument.

"Three years, Emily," he repeated. "Are you ashamed of me?"

She sighed and turned to face him, leaning against the counter. "Ian, of course not! I love you!"

"Then why can't I come with you?" he persisted.

"It isn't about whether I want you to come or not, it's about your safety, Declan's safety. If anyone should find out who you are...there's no telling what could happen to us."

"There's no threat I can't handle," he said reasonably.

"See, Ian, that's the problem. You still think like you're not in Witness Protection. You can't just go around threatening people anymore."

"You say that like it's a regular occurrence," he joked.

Her expression was not amused.

"Emily, I'm not asking for permission to whack someone, I just want to join you for a drink with your friends."

"They're my coworkers and they're some of the best federal agents in the country. If there's anyone you need to keep a low profile around, it's them."

"So, now that you're some big shot profiler, you think you're better than me?" he accused.

"Oh, fuck you, Ian," she snapped, turning back to the mirror to put on her lipstick.

In the next moment, he was grinding his hips against her ass. "No, fuck you, Emily," he growled, thrusting forwards so that she's forced to brace her hands against the counter.

"Ian, what are you...?" she started to ask. But it quickly became rhetorical as he pulled her jeans down over her hips. "Ian!" she protested, but it was already weak.

He wrapped a hand over her mouth. "I didn't say you could speak..." He stroked a hand over the crotch of her panties. "Do you always get wet when we argue?"

"I'm not..." she argued, words muffled by his hand.

"Don't lie to me, Emily," he hissed, removing the hand from her mouth to thread it through her hair, yanking her head back.

"Okay," she whimpered as he sunk his teeth into her neck.

"Now, I'm going to fuck you and I don't want to hear a sound," he demanded.


"Ah-ah. That's a sound." He slid her panties to the side, trailing his fingers through her folds, bringing them away slick with wetness. He offered them to her and she obeyed, taking his fingers into her mouth and sucking them clean.

"You like it, don't you?" he taunted. "You like fighting – it turns you on. Admit it, you miss being Lauren." He teasingly dipped a finger inside her.

She nodded frantically, eager for more.

He added another finger, slowly thrusting them in and out.

"You miss it – miss us, the way we used to be. Now you have to be a good little girl, but we both know you're not." He withdrew his fingers and she had to sink her teeth into her lip to keep from crying out in disappointment. "You want me to fuck you?"

She nodded eagerly, canting her hips back to grant him better access.

"Ordinarily, I wouldn't reward your bad behaviour..."

She scoffed.

He gave a firm scolding smack to her ass. "But I'm feeling generous."

She wasn't entirely sure what he meant by that, until he trailed his slippery fingers over her asshole and his intentions immediately became very apparent.

"Ian..." she says warningly, though she's not entirely sure why. She likes this, likes him in her ass, she just prefers that it be her idea; in fact, it had taken her quite a bit of convincing before he'd been willing to fuck her ass the first time.

Without a word, he went for the aloe gel she kept on the counter, as she was constantly burning herself with hot coffee and hot curling irons, and drizzled the liquid into his palm. The squelching sound of him slicking up his cock turned her on to no end and she gave in to the inevitable, spreading her legs wider, wiggling her hips temptingly.

With one hand on her hip, he stilled her movement, with the other, he slipped one finger inside her. His fingers were rough and calloused from years spent on the trigger of a gun and, against the sensitive skin of her hole, she found their abrasiveness strangely arousing.

"Touch yourself, Emily," he ordered and she wordlessly obeyed, her fingers on her clit the soft counterpoint to his rough ones. He sunk a second finger inside her, scissoring them roughly without warning and she bucked her hips, making him chuckle. "You always did like it rough," he husked by her ear.

She whimpered and nodded, rubbing her clit harder, faster, in time with his fingers pumping in and out of her. It was good, so good, the way he stretched her.

"You want another?" he taunted, removing his fingers altogether. She nodded vigorously, but kept her silence, determined that now that he'd started, she wasn't about to give him reason to wind her up then leave her on the edge.

He added a third finger and she whimpered, begging without words for his cock.

He laughed. "You're insatiable," he said with a scolding click of his tongue. But she could hear his absolutely shit-eating grin in his voice as he pressed the head of his cock against her hole.

She gasped sharply as he pushed forwards, accompanied by no small amount of pain – he's big, after all, the biggest she'd ever taken.

"This what you want?" he asked, sounding entirely too pleased with himself. He slides one hand up her back to tangle in her previously neatly done hair. She was too far gone to protest.

She nodded, teeth sinking into her bottom lip as he sank deeper into her ass until he was flush against her, skin on skin.

He paused for several moments, giving her a chance to adjust before he started moving. They both knew that once he got going, he wasn't about to stop. He slapped her hand away from her clit and took over with deliberate roughness.

A sharp cry clawed its way up her throat once he started moving, fucking her hard and fast and thorough. He gave a half-groan, half-laugh in response, tossing his head back as he slammed into her. The only other sound in the room was the slap of his balls slapping against her ass and damn, if the sound didn't turn her on even more.

She needed more and he seemed to sense it. "What do you want, Emily?" he taunted. She just mewled like a helpless kitten. He yanked sharply on her hair, stretching her head back. "Tell me what you want," he demanded beside her ear.

"More," she said breathlessly because it was the only word she could find.

He chuckled, but obliged, knowing she was close to coming.

In the next moment, as his cock sawed roughly in and out of her hole, she came, her body clamping down on his dick and she couldn't help but scream out, his thrusts producing a burning ache through her whole lower body. She clung to the counter with white knuckles as he continued his relentless pace.

It wasn't long after before he cried out, "Fuck!" and she gasped sharply as there was a warm rush of cum deep in her ass. He pumped into her a few more times, milking the last drops into her trembling body.

He pulled out with a wet pop and she could feel his cum dribbling out of her ass.

He chuckled low in his throat as he spread her ass, watching the liquid spill out of her. "Goddamn," he cursed breathlessly. Then, with a smug smirk, he patted her on the ass and pulled her pants back up. He hissed in her ear, "You're going to feel my seed spilling out of you all night long and you'll think of me... Enjoy."

Chapter Text


The house was oddly silent when Emily walked in the front door and dropped her go bag on the floor. "Hello?" she called into the silence. "Anyone home?"

A silent house with a five year old simply didn't happen, the two did not coexist, it was just a fact of life. So, she couldn't exactly be blamed that her immediate reaction was to jump to the worst possible conclusion, a bubble of panic bursting in her chest. Or maybe she'd just been in law enforcement too long. Either was possible.

Then came a little giggle and she let out a sigh of relief. Suspicion followed shortly after. Giggles like that never meant anything good. The gentle 'shush' that followed did nothing to ease her suspicions.

She followed the sounds down the hall, not sure what to expect, but fully anticipating chaos like only a five year old and his immature father could create without her supervision.

As she approached, Ian poked his head around the corner of the living room. "You're home!" he said, a little too cheerfully. He grinned too wide, looking like the Cheshire Cat. He rushed forward to wrap her in his arms and it didn't escape her that he was using his body to block her view of the inside of the living room.

"What's going on?' she asked, quirking a brow, craning her neck to try to get a look at what he was hiding.

"Nothing," he answered too quickly. Another giggle.

"Ian..." she said warningly.

"Promise you won't get mad?"

Nothing good ever followed those words. "Ian..." she said, voice low and displeased.

Before he could say anything to appease her, Declan let out a small, "Oops..." and a small grey blur dashed towards her and ricocheted off her leg, barking enthusiastically. Declan came racing in afterwards, looking sheepish.

"Is that a dog?" she asked, deadpan, face the picture of unimpressed.

"His name is Tafann!" Declan exclaimed, oblivious.

Ian pasted on his best innocent face like he'd had absolutely nothing to do with their sudden acquisition of a dog.

"Since when do we have a dog?" she asked, pausing after each word for emphasis.

"Since this morning," Ian said with a shrug as if it couldn't have been helped. "Declan found him in a box at the side of the road and was immediately attached. I just couldn't bear to part him from the boy. I had a dog just like him as a child."

"Who are you and what have you done with Ian Doyle?"

"It's just a puppy, what harm could it do? It'll teach the boy some responsibility." He waved away her concern.

"Declan is five. That's too young for a puppy – especially an Irish Wolfhound. Don't they grow to weigh over a hundred pounds? That's twice his size!"

"It'll be fine," Ian insisted.

"Isn't he cute, Mommy?" Declan asked, picking up the squirming puppy with some difficulty.

"Adorable," she said, smiling tenderly at the boy. She found it exceedingly difficult to be mad at the child when she loved him so much (and technically he hadn't done anything was Ian who should have known better).

"Pet him!" Declan insisted.

"I'm not really a dog person..." she protested.

"Pet him!" He shoved the dog into her arms before she could protest further.

The dog squirmed a little before settling its head against her chest with a contented sigh. Emily bit her lip, wanting to be annoyed, but finding it very difficult at the moment.

"I don't have time to look after a dog," she said, but it was weak.

"You won't have to," Ian promised. "Declan will do most of the work."

"I really don't think..."

He silenced her with a kiss. "You always did worry too much."

"Fine," she relented. "But when..."


"When this goes wrong, it's your responsibility."

He grinned foolishly, knowing he'd won. "I told you she'd be okay with it, son."

Emily rolled her eyes and, while the boys celebrated, she nuzzled her nose into the puppy's soft fur.

"Good night, buddy," Emily murmured, kissing the boy on his forehead. "I love you."

"Love you too, Mommy." She stood to leave, but he called out, "Wait! Aren't you going to kiss Tafann good night?"

"I'm not kissing the dog good night," she said flatly.

"Why not?" Declan asked innocently. "Don't you like him? He loves you!"

"I'm not kissing the dog," she insisted.

He pouted and batted his eyes at her. "Please?"

Emily groaned. "Why?"

"He's part of the family," he said seriously. "So, you have to love him."

"Do I have to?" Declan nodded. She sighed. "Fine." She reluctantly kissed the dog's forehead; the dog responded by happily licking her face. "Gross!"

Declan squealed with laughter. "Tafann loves you!"

Emily just rolled her eyes. "Time for bed, crazy kid." When she closed the door behind her, Ian was struggling not to laugh. She punched him in the shoulder. "It isn't funny!"

"It's a little funny," he insisted.

"Why did you have to get him a dog?"

"He misses you when you're at work," Ian said gently. "And I thought that maybe a puppy might help him feel less lonely." He watched her face fall and instantly regretted his words. "Emily, have to work. Declan will be fine."

"I should have explained it to him better," she said softly. "Why I have to go away. Why I have to leave him."

"He's a smart boy, he'll understand with time."

She chewed anxiously on her thumb nail. "I just don't want him to think I'm abandoning him. I always want him to know he matters to me."

He grabbed her wrist to stop her anxious fidgeting, wrapping her hand in his. "He knows."


"Of course. You're his mother – the only one he's ever known. You have to work to secure his future, that's what a good mother does."

"You think I'm a good mother?" she asked, smiling coyly.

"I know so. In fact, I'm so sure that I want to have a dozen more children with you." He smirked mischievously.

"That seems a little improbable."

"Maybe just a handful, then." He kissed her soundly.

She laughed into the kiss. "Maybe we should go practice?" she suggested, smirking.

"I like the way you think," he agreed enthusiastically, tugging her hand to lead her towards the bedroom.

Chapter Text

Fear and Loathing

Emily smiled coyly at Ian over her glass of wine. She may or may not have been mentally undressing him.

She was also thinking about how weird it was that the first 'normal' relationship she'd had was with an internationally wanted terrorist king-pin. But she supposed she'd never been the most conventional person in the first place and she kind of doubted he was either.

She was about to suggest the two of them cut their standing monthly date short so she could undress him for real, assuming she could make it that long (it wouldn't have been the first time they'd had sex against the door of a public restroom...), when he reached across the table to hold her free hand. "So, I've been thinking..." he said slowly, a tender smile playing about his lips. "Maybe we should get married."

Emily choked on her sip of wine. "Excuse me?" she sputtered. That was the last thing she'd been expecting him to say.

He quirked a brow at her less than overjoyed reaction. "I know you heard me correctly."

"I thought I already agreed to that..." She set down her wine as if she'd suddenly lost her appetite for it.

"I meant soon. Now."

"Don't you think that's rushing it a little...or a lot?" She attempted a smile, but it was tight and he saw right through it.

"Three years is rushing?" he countered pointedly.

"Well, not exactly, I guess," she admitted hesitantly, wracking her brain for a viable excuse. "But still... We just got engaged. Shouldn't we take some time, think about things?"

He frowned. This was not going at all the way he'd hoped. "What's there to think about? I love you and you love me, we want to get married – why not do it tonight, at the courthouse?"

"It's just..." She sighed heavily. Her tongue flicked out to lick her top lip as she tried to find the best way to let him down gently. "Things like this take time."

"Just to be clear – is it the courthouse you're objecting to or do you just not want to marry me?"

"No, Ian! Of course, I want to marry you! It's just..." She stammered, faltered.

"Then what is it!?" he demanded, voice too loud, attracting attention from nearby diners. "Why don't you want to get married?"

"Ian, keep your voice down," she urged quietly, grimacing apologetically at the other patrons.

"Stop avoiding the question, Emily," he snapped. "Is there someone else?"

"Ian, no!" she exclaimed, surprised by the sudden accusation.

"Is it me? You just don't want to marry an ex-terrorist? You're too good for me?"

Finally, she slammed her palms down on the table, rattling the silverware. "Enough, Ian! This isn't about you!"

"Then what is it about? Because I can't perceive of anything that would make me not want to marry you."

"It's about me, Ian."

"Then why did you even agree to marry me if you didn't want to?" he snapped.

"Because I didn't think you'd want to rush into it. I thought there would be time to get used to the idea..."

"I want to marry you, Emily – I want to be married to you now and I don't understand why you don't want that." He shook his head slowly as if he were disappointed in her.

"I do, Ian. Really," she tried to reason with him. "But marriage is a big step – huge – it changes things, it changes people."

"What change are you so afraid of?" he asked, seeming utterly bewildered by her reluctance.

She sighed slowly, eyes falling shut. When she opened them again, she took one of his hands in hers, consolingly. "What we have,'s built on sand. We're only together because you were a criminal. Yes, I fell in love with you, but is it enough? I really don't know..."

He frowned. "What do you mean?"

"You wouldn't build a house on sand and we can't build a marriage on it either. What happens when we're married and you realize you only love the illusion of me, not who I really am?"

"You're being crazy, Emily – I do know you and I love you."

She chose to ignore the first part of that sentence, focusing instead on the latter claim. "No, you know Lauren. You know the bits and pieces of myself I've chosen to reveal with time. If you'd known me, the real me, would we even be here today? I don't think so."

"Are you calling me shallow?" he accused.

"I was literally sent to arrest you! Are you honestly trying to tell me that wouldn't have killed your libido a little?" She laughed a little hysterically.

"That doesn't matter, Emily! You're hiding behind technicalities and what if's. Either you want to get married or you don't. It's that simple. And if you don't...maybe we shouldn't be together."

"Ian..." she whispered, clutching his hand tighter. She shook her head slowly, eyes filling with tears.

He stood up from the table suddenly. "Maybe you need some time to think about this."

"Ian..." she said again, voice choking on desperate sobs.

When Morgan asked her the next day if she'd had a long night, she couldn't exactly tell him that she hadn't slept well because her ex-terrorist fiance had been too angry over her refusal to marry him to sleep in the same bed as her, leaving her tossing and turning all night as she replayed their fight and worried that she'd ruined things between them for good.

Clyde had done her the favour of keeping Ian and Declan out of her personnel file, meaning no one – not even Strauss – knew of them and she planned on keeping it that way.

So, she told him the first thing that came to her head. It wasn't even a lie, really, more of a half truth. She had ruined their date, afterall...she just let him think it was a blind date with a stranger. And he'd chuckled and waggled his brows like he knew exactly what she meant and she gave him that forced smile while keeping him at a distance, afraid of what he might read in her, the truths he might discover.

She liked him, really, wanted his acceptance, his friendship...she just didn't know how to let him in without risking her entire castle built on sand.

Chapter Text


"Can we talk?" Emily asked with uncharacteristic timidness from the doorway to Ian's office. She leaned casually against the door frame, hands in her pockets to keep from picking at her nails. She wasn't usually this nervous – not with him, not with anyone – but she desperately didn't want this to be over and she was terrified he might say that it was.

Ian looked up from his glass of whiskey. "You're home," he said as if surprised by her presence, but his intonation was almost bored, as if he'd expected that she'd simply left for work without plans to ever return. Underneath it, though, she could hear the hint of vulnerability, if only because she knew him so well.

Emily didn't comment on his less than welcoming greeting, more to save him the embarrassment of pointing out she knew it was all an act. "Are you drunk?" she asked, brow raised, as he lifted the glass to his lips with a shaky hand.

"This is my first," he answered, rattling the glass so the ice cubes clinked against the sides. If he was offended by her implication, he didn't voice it.

"Is this because of our fight?" she asked softly, gingerly sitting across from him as if he might tell her to leave at any moment. She wasn't entirely sure what she meant by this, but it was as good an ice breaker as any.

"And if it is?"

"Ian..." she murmured, eyes lifting to the ceiling. She sighed softly. "I'm sorry...about the things I said."

He stared down into his tumbler of amber liquid. "I may not have behaved in the most gentlemanly manner myself," he admitted slowly, never one to readily admit he was wrong.

Emily smiled mischievously in spite of the sombre tone of the conversation. "Ian Doyle? A gentleman?" She scoffed, eyes twinkling, belying the sarcastic words. "Never!"

He bit down on his grin, trying not to show it, still reticent to let go of his irritation. "So, does this mean you've had a change of heart?" he finally dared to ask, eyes lifting to meet hers. Damn her for having gotten so thoroughly under his skin, for making his hardened heart soft.

"No, I still think it's best that we wait," she said gently, hating to extinguish that flicker of hope in his eyes. "But I'm sorry if I made you think I don't love you or don't want to marry you. I just need time."

"What do you need time for?" he asked desperately, not understanding. He didn't want to start the earlier argument again, but he needed to know what held her back from the future she claimed to want with him.

She shook her head, eyes darting away from the intense dejection on his face. "It's stupid," she said quietly, shaking her head, tongue flicking out to lick her top lip.

He rested a hand on her knee, squeezing lightly in what he hoped was a comforting gesture. "Tell me," he urged, more demand than gentle coaxing.

She let out a heavy sigh, looking anywhere but at him to avoid the way his icy eyes seemed to bore a hole straight through her every defense and into the darkest recesses of her heart. "Everyone I love always leaves me," she whispered eventually.

"Why would I leave?" he asked incredulously.

"There are things you don't know about me," she said slowly, "Things you wouldn't like. And it's only a matter of time before you find out and realize you're better off without me."

He gave a disbelieving little laugh at the irony of the matter. "Emily, look who you're talking to! What moral high-ground do I have to stand on? I'm in no place to judge you and I know it."

"Yes, but..." she insisted.

He leaned forward to take her head in his hands, forcing her to meet his eyes. "No buts, Emily. Whatever it is you're so afraid of me knowing, I don't care. None of it matters."

She didn't argue, but she lifted a skeptical brow.

"I'm serious," he insisted. "Right this moment, I'm prepared to say 'for better, for worse' and mean it."

"Even if it's a lot of worse?" she asked softly, trying not to smile at the sentiment.

"Even if it's all worse," he promised, leaning in to kiss her.

She lost the battle with her smile then, grinning into the kiss.

"There it is," he said when he pulled away, brushing a thumb over her smiling lip, making her blush.

"I do, you know," she murmured, almost apropos of nothing. When he raised a brow, she added, "Love you."

"I know," he assured her. "I've always known."

"Good." Then she pulled him in for another kiss, wrapping her arms around his neck to keep him close.

"Not to look a gift horse in the mouth..." he said, chuckling, when she pulled away for air. "But what prompted the change of heart?"

"I've just been thinking," she said vaguely, gesturing carelessly.

"Because of the case?" he prompted.

She shrugged, but nodded. "He wasn't a bad guy..." she said. He waited for her to continue. "He was a good man with a wife and he's just...gone."

He understood where she was going. "And if someone good can be taken so easily, how quickly could one of us disappear..." he finished for her.

She nodded, not meeting his eyes.

"Mark my words, Emily," he said seriously, "I'm not going anywhere."

She caught his eye again. "Promise?" she asked, even knowing he had no control over it.

"Geallaim," he said, kissing her forehead.

"Now..." she said, snatching his drink away and downing a large sip before pulling a disgusted face at the taste. "I'm going to kiss my favourite boy good night, then you're going to join me in the bedroom so we can make up properly."

"I am?" he teased.

She glared playfully. "It wasn't a suggestion."

He laughed, then saluted. "Yes, ma'am."

"Good. And don't call me ma'am."

Chapter Text


Emily was still pissed off at Reid when she arrived home.

She'd made it back in time for Declan's birthday – just barely – no thanks to Reid and his little temper tantrum in New Orleans.

It was his sixth birthday and his first birthday since they'd started their new life, so she'd wanted it to be a special occasion. The party was going to be a small affair, given that they hadn't been in Virginia long enough for him to make a lot of friends, especially since he was painfully shy, but they'd pulled out all the stops to make sure it would be a magical event. Literally, given that Declan was currently obsessed with Harry Potter.

If she'd missed it, she never would've forgiven Reid. Objectively speaking, she knew he was going through something and she was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, but emotionally speaking...he could have just got on the damn plane and then maybe she wouldn't have had to drive like a maniac to get back home in time to attend her son's birthday party...

Emily paused outside the door to listen for a moment, expecting exuberant childlike glee that could only be caused by an excess of sugar and excitement, but instead hearing only muted voices. Either Ian had given the kids a dose of chloroform or Declan was too disappointed that she wasn't there to have fun. Neither option made her feel good.

Apparently, it was up to her to liven things up...and God, how did it happen that she was the one responsible for making a kid's party fun? She hadn't even had fun at her own birthday parties growing up... She sighed and changed into the robe and hat she'd packed in her go bag, just in case.

Clearing her throat and doing her best McGonigall impression, she burst into the house with a cry of, "Potter!"

Half a dozen faces peered out of the living room. When Declan spotted her, he let out a high-pithed squeal of glee and ran across the room to wrap her in a hug. "Mommy!"

"I'm not your mother, Potter," she replied, tipping him a wink to tell him to play along.

"Sorry, Professor," he replied, grinning wildly, showing a gap in his teeth where there hadn't been one when she'd left a few days ago. She swallowed down the sadness that she'd missed his first tooth falling out for later wallowing.

"Ten points to Gryffindor," she declared. "Who wants to play 'Pin the Letter on the Owl'?"

While the kids cheered their enthusiasm for the game, Ian greeted her by wrapping his arms around her like he was drowning and she was a life preserver. For someone who wanted a lot of kids, he wasn't cut out for being alone with more than a few at once.

He kissed her, then smirked as he whispered in her ear, "How many points does that earn Gryffindor?"

She scoffed. "You're a Slytherin and you know it."

He laughed out loud. "Touche. But then, so are you." He kissed her again before she could argue the matter.

Emily lay beside Declan in bed, staring up at the glow in the dark stars on the ceiling. She'd arranged them to resemble real constellations and sometimes, when Declan couldn't sleep, she would lay with him and tell him the stories of how they got their names. "Did you enjoy your party, Schnecke?" she asked, not sure she wanted the answer.

He hesitated a moment. "I guess?" he mumbled, playing with the antennae on his stuffed snail.

"You guess?" she repeated, heart sinking. He shrugged. "It's okay if you didn't..." she prompted, never wanting him to be afraid to tell her the truth.

He was quiet for so long, she thought he'd fallen asleep. "I wish it was just you, me, and it used to be," he said finally.

"Oh, sweetie," she murmured, then pulled him in so she could kiss his forehead. "I'm sorry it wasn't the best birthday ever. Next year will be better. But how about tomorrow we all go out together and do whatever you want?"

He frowned, thinking about the offer. "Can we get ice cream?"

"Of course."

"And go to the library?"


"And go to the park and play soccer?"

"Sounds good."

"And Tafann can come?"

She sighed – she still hadn't quite forgiven Ian for getting him that damned dog. "If you want." He nodded eagerly. "Then that's what we'll do."

"And you promise you'll be there?" He affixed her with his best stern glare (which was more cute than intimidating, given that his face was still lined with baby fat) and held up his hand for a pinky promise.

"I promise." She hooked her pinky around his, guilt roiling in her stomach, wishing she didn't have to work, wishing she hadn't uprooted his entire life to move to Virginia. "I'm sorry I have to work so much..."

"It's okay, Mommy," he said magnanimously. "You've gotta be a super hero and put the bad guys in jail and save the world!"

She smiled softly, gently smoothing his hair away from his face. "Never stop loving me this much, okay?" He nodded readily and she kissed his head again, thanking God for giving her him. "What do you say we read The Paper Bag Princess and then I'll tuck you in?"

"Heyyyyyyyyy Dragoooooooooonnnnnnn," he hollered in response.

After reading the same story five times before finally convincing Declan to fall asleep, Emily collapsed on the bed next to Ian. "Fuck, I'm tired."

"You're tired!?" he exclaimed.

"I just spent the last several days chasing a serial killer with next to no sleep..." she pointed out.

"I was alone with all those little devils for two hours before you got there! They were all hopped up on sugar and wouldn't stop talking!" he griped.

"Those devils are your son's friends," she pointed out. He waved her concern away. "And let me remind you that you're the one who wants a whole herd of kids."

"Is that a hint?" he asked, waggling his brows. He rolled over so he was supporting himself on his elbows over top of her.

"Did you miss me saying I'm exhausted?" she asked, unimpressed. "And what happened to you being exhausted?"

He chuckled. "I'm never too tired for you, Love..."

She kissed him tenderly. "Tomorrow? I promised Declan a family day and I want to have the energy to enjoy it. But I'll save a little fun for you..."

"I love it when you're a good mother," he murmured against the skin of her neck before dropping a kiss there.

She groaned, feeling herself giving in to him. "Just a quick one..." She gave a squeak of laughter as he rolled them again so she was on top.

He laughed. "Don't blame yourself, I'm just exceedingly irresistible."

Chapter Text

Ashes and Dust

"You should really quit, you know," Ian's voice floated out from the bedroom to where she stood on the balcony facing the glow of the cityscape in the distance.

Emily let out a long exhale of smoke into the night and watched the tendrils disappear on the breeze. "I know," she said softly, putting out the cigarette. She sighed, suddenly feeling tired to her very bones. "I know. I will."

"You've been saying that for years, Love," he pointed out. He was right and they both knew it.

She shrugged limply. "I will..." she repeated, not sure whether either of them believed it, but he didn't comment further and neither did she. She climbed back into bed with him, snuggling into his side to warm the nighttime chill that had settled into her skin.

What she didn't say was that she wasn't sure she'd live long enough for the smoking to do her in. Not when there was a spot on her lower back that was growing like the pit of nerves in her stomach.

What she didn't say was that tomorrow she'd see her doctor and she'd bet the farm that he'll say it's cancer. She didn't want to worry him – she was afraid that it would break him. So, she did the only thing she could do: she prayed to a god she wasn't sure she believed in as she lay curled into his side, his arms wrapped around her like he was making sure she couldn't be taken from him...

If only it were that easy.

He pressed a kiss to her temple and murmured goodnight into her ear, his voice soft and gravelly with sleep and she tried to memorize every detail of it, because she doesn't know how many she had left.

As Emily stared down at Charlotte Cutler's burned body, death more visceral than it had ever been, she felt herself choke back tears, felt Hotch's eyes on her. And when he told her to call Gideon, she had never felt more thankful or less like herself.

She used to be better at compartmentalizing. Used to be better at packing everything away into little boxes to keep them from spilling over into her everyday life. She wasn't sure when she'd stopped being able to do that.

But, then, she supposed the threat of cancer hanging over your head did that to a person.


The word filled her head until it was too big, too swollen to fit inside and had to come spilling out her mouth and she imagined having to tell people, the word spilling out over and over and over until it was all that existed in the whole world and she hated it. The weight of it on her chest until she couldn't breathe. The breadth of it filling the space that existed between her and everyone she cared about.

The doctor had spoken to her of stages and survival rates and treatment options and all she wanted was to scream, scream, scream until she could hear nothing at all.

She remembered standing outside the doctor's office afterwards, staring up at the sky as if searching for answers, early spring warmth kissing her skin, but feeling only cold. She wanted to feel angry, at something, anything, but feeling hollow emptiness inside where her heart used to be. She didn't need it anymore.

When they worked out that Evan Abby was dying, it was a whole other kettle of fish and Emily felt like the universe had already thrown six feet of dirt on top of her and she was suffocating from the pressure and she'd scream if she weren't so sure that once she started, she'd never be able to stop.

She wasn't fifteen anymore, death some fetishistic fantasy she kept hidden like the lovers she hid from her mother in the morning. Death was real and solid and so very close she could feel its breath on the back of her neck like a lover fucking her from behind.

Death was more real than she could ever be.

It took and took and took until there was nothing left to take and all that was left in the world was her and death.

Death would win in the end. It always did.

The thing that really cut her was that three years ago, she didn't care whether she lived or died – that was why she took the Doyle assignment in the first place, certain that Ian would kill her, just like every operative before her.

Now... Now she had so much to live for.

She was sitting in the SUV with Morgan, stuck in traffic on their way to the airport and she could feel him staring at her like he was trying to solve a particularly complex math problem and she was afraid that if he kept staring at her like that, she'll fall apart like so much broken glass.

Before she knew she was going to say it, the words come bursting out of her like like the effort to keep them inside had been suffocating her. "I might have cancer..."

The words seemed to echo in the confined space of the vehicle and for a few moments, all he could do was blink at her in surprise. "Cancer?" he repeated dumbly.

"Skin cancer," she confirmed, almost without emotion.

"When will you know for sure?" he asked.

"A week or so," she said with a shrug. She almost felt like she were talking about something happening to someone else, she'd distanced herself so far from the reality of it.

"Are... Are you okay?" he asked, even though she clearly wasn't and they both knew it.

"I didn't want it to be real," she said, answering a different question instead, unsure why she was saying these things she hadn't admitted to anyone. "I keep hoping a bullet will kill me first..." Rather than face my own mortality, is the silent implication behind the words.

"Oh, I'm pretty sure you're bulletproof," he said, voice taking on a teasing tone as he flashed her one of his winning smiles. "Besides, I'm pretty sure you're too stubborn to die."

She scoffed and jutted her chin out defiantly. "You're one to talk about being stubborn."

"Takes one to know one," he replied childishly, sticking out his tongue at her.

For the first time in a week, she actually laughed out loud, wondering why she'd ever tried to keep herself from getting close to the people that were quickly becoming her best friends.

In the end, she didn't have cancer. But the experience itself was enough to rattle her.

When she finally told Ian, after it was all over, she expected just about any reaction – anger, sadness, over-protectiveness – any reaction besides the one she got.

"You're not dying," he said firmly, as if that's all there were to the matter.

"Ian..." she started, readying herself to force him to think realistically.

"I won't let you," he interrupted.

"I don't think you have much choice in the matter," she replied, attempting a laugh that didn't reach her eyes.

"I'm a very stubborn man, Emily," he said cryptically, resting a calloused palm against her cheek and she gave up on having a real conversation about wills and plans and gave in to his waiting arms. Without saying anything, he leaned in to kiss her; she kissed him back like she was trying to tell him she loved him without using the words.

And when he pulled away, she couldn't breathe for the lack of him.

Chapter Text

Honor Among Thieves

There were a lot of things in her life that Emily's mother hadn't been privy to – since she was fifteen and any semblance of a relationship they'd had collapsed altogether. Since much earlier, if she were being honest.

And as much as she didn't believe in God or fate or the machinations of the universe, she had to wonder if something bigger than herself was at play, bringing her mother back into her life when it did after so many years had passed between them with only the most formal of communications between them when they bothered to communicate at all.

If she were being honest, Emily had been wanting to reach out for awhile now, but hadn't for fear of being rejected the way she had so many times growing up. But Elizabeth Prentiss seemed genuinely lonely, genuinely sorry...

And being a mother herself had changed Emily. Made her soft. Made her careful and reckless all at once.

She supposed that was why she'd called Ian and Declan and told them to meet her for dinner without pausing to consider whether it was a good idea to introduce her mother to Ian...or vice versa.

When she parked in front of the restaurant, Emily turned off the engine, but made no move to get out of the car. She chewed one thumbnail anxiously, only vaguely aware of how much her mother hated the nervous habit, as she tried to figure out the best way to broach the subject of the surprise family she was about to foist on her unsuspecting mother.

"Something the matter, dear?" Elizabeth asked, watching her rather warily.

Emily sighed and plunged in head-first. "There's something I should prepare you for..."

"Emily?" It was clear in her voice that she was struggling to reserve judgement, which wasn't exactly her strong suit.

"I invited my fiancé and our son to join us for dinner," she said in one quick breath.

"You..." she started, stopped. "You have a son?"

"I adopted him. He's my fiancé's son. His name is Declan, he just turned six, and he's the sweetest little boy you'll ever meet." It was clear in her voice that she desperately wanted her mother to love Declan as much as she did.

"I can't wait to meet him," Elizabeth said with a diplomatic smile.

Emily had chosen Declan's favourite restaurant. It wasn't exactly up to her mother's five star dining standards, but it had a massive fish tank in the centre of the room. Declan could watch the fish happily for hours, sometimes to the point of forgetting to eat. Or forgetting to be excited to see her.

He had his back turned towards the door when Emily arrived, hands and nose pressed up against the glass. She couldn't help but smile at his innocent fascination and silently prayed he'd never lose his joy over the little things in life.

"Dec, go say hi to your Ma," Ian told the boy, sharing a smile with Emily when he continued to fail to notice her.

Elizabeth watched as the boy flew into Emily's arms, watched as Emily wrapped the boy in her embrace and pressed a kiss to his messy curls, watched as she whispered a greeting in his ear and tickled his sides until peels of laughter rang out from his rosebud lips.

Emily glanced over her shoulder at her mother and flashed her a smile obviously full of nerves. "Schnecke, I want you to meet someone really special," she said softly to the boy with what she hoped was a reassuring smile. " your Grandma Elizabeth."

Declan smiled shyly at her, but made no move closer. He glanced back at Emily, his blue eyes filled with wariness, obviously seeking out his mother's reassurance. Emily whispered something in his ear, then looked in his eyes with a motherly smile, stroking his cheek tenderly. After a moment, he nodded, then mumbled a shy greeting to his new grandmother.

"It's very nice to meet you," Elizabeth said with all the warmth she knew how to muster, then immediately wished she'd said something sweeter, something more grandmotherly. Then, she wished she had some kind of gift to give him. Anything but a tight awkward smile.

Elizabeth watched Emily with her son.

She watched Emily be a mother. Watched her be gentle and loving and soft. Vulnerable.

All the things she hadn't been able to be when Emily was a child.

For so many years, Elizabeth had worried that she'd failed Emily. By being too distant, too strict. By being a parent without being a mother. By being absent when it mattered. For a whole host of reasons she couldn't list if she had all day.

Now, though...after seeing the way Emily's son adored her so clearly, it seemed Emily had managed to break the cycle to become the type of mother Elizabeth had always wanted to be, but had somehow fallen so short of.

"I'm proud of you," Elizabeth said, breaking the silence in the car as Emily drove her back home.

"Proud of me?" Emily repeated and, if she sounded entirely too surprised to hear those words coming from her mother, well, she couldn't exactly be blamed for that. "For what?"

"You've become a wonderful mother."

"And you're surprised by that?" she asked, a little hurt.

"No, of course not – I just never thought you'd settle down, you always seemed so focused on your career. I worried I'd screwed up your ability to trust, to risk your heart... I admit, I wasn't a very good mother, but I wanted better for you. Better than me, than the example I set." She paused, thoughtful. It seems you've found it."

Emily opened her mouth to say something, but sharing anything more real than polite small talk with her mother wasn't exactly something she was good at. Instead, she replied with something only tangentially related. "I was worried you wouldn't like Declan, wouldn't accept him because he's not mine."

"He is yours. I see that in the way you look at him, the way he looks at you. I see that unconditional love, that unspoken bond." A bond the two of them had never really shared.

Emily gave a watery smile and reached across the centre console to squeeze her mother's hand, the gesture feeling entirely foreign, but comforting all the same. "That means a lot, Mother."

"Emily..." Elizabeth started. Stopped. Sighed. "I want to do better. To try harder. I want to be a part of your life, your son's life. I don't want to be a stranger anymore."

Emily wanted to tell her she wasn't a stranger, but knew it would be a lie. "I'd like that," she said finally.

"And, Emily... I-I'm sorry. I'm sorry I didn't try harder when you were a child. I should have done better. You deserved better. I know it doesn't make up for anything, but you've always been everything to me."

"I know," she whispered.

"And I'm going to start by being a good grandmother to your son," she said resolutely.

"You could start by calling yourself Nana instead of grandmother," Emily said, trying not to laugh. "Or Granny..."

Elizabeth tried not to roll her eyes. "You always were a smart aleck."

It wasn't a magic wand, waved to erase the years of distance between them...but it was a start.

Chapter Text

Open Season

There was no cell reception on the mountain.

Emily didn't exactly mind – she was used to Ian texting her constantly about things he'd know if he stopped to look before asking her, so the peace was a welcome change.

And sure enough, when they did finally get a cell signal after coming down off the mountain for a night spent in the town's only motel, she had fourteen missed call which, she'd admit, was a new record.

The first one was Ian asking her where the thermometer was. The usual.

The next, he'd apparently found the thermometer. He said Declan had a fever and she was starting to worry. He'd never been sick without her there to take care of him.

By the fifth, Declan's fever was over 103 and Emily wanted to throw up with worry. She wanted to get on the first plane out of Idaho and take her baby boy in her arms and make everything all better. But she couldn't, they still had a case to solve and no one knew she even had a son.

She called Ian, trying to keep the panic from her voice, to keep a level head so he wouldn't scare Declan. She knew he was worried, though. They agreed that he'd watch Declan's fever overnight and if it got any higher, they'd go to the emergency room. She was really hoping it wouldn't come to that.

Ian put Declan on the phone, then, and it was clear in his voice that he wasn't feeling his usual effervescent self. "I don't feel good, Mommy..." he said pitifully.

"I know, Schnecke," she said consolingly. "I know." His sad little voice was wrenching at her heart, making it all the more difficult to stay put.

"I want you to take care of me," he whined. And God, how she wanted to be there just then.

"Mommy has to work, buddy. But Daddy is going to take very good care of you until I get home," she promised.

"I don't want Daddy..." he practically sobbed.

"I'm sorry, baby," she soothed. "I can't come home yet, I'm not done catching the bad guy. But I promise Daddy knows what he's doing. He'll turn on your favourite movies and you can watch them all day long – you won't even notice I'm gone, okay? Before you know it, I'll be home."


"Very soon," she agreed, hoping it was true.

She was woken in the middle of the night by Ian calling yet again. Declan had come down with the chicken pox. He was itchy, uncomfortable, and cranky. And all he wanted was Emily.

Also, Ian wanted Emily. And not just because he never caught the chicken pox as a child somehow. All in all, it was a really shitty time for her to be clear across the country.

Emily had barely gotten any sleep and she had already guzzled a pot of coffee when Morgan joined her in the lobby of the motel. As if sensing her mood, he didn't crack any jokes about her appearance.

He clinked his coffee mug against hers as if commiserating. She grunted in acknowledgement of his greeting, then they drank in silence until Gideon joined them. She was grateful for the companionship, even if it was a silent one.

She was thinking of that moment as they sat across from each other on the jet and she suddenly found herself desperate for the words. "Can I tell you something?" she asked before she knew she was going to say anything.

He smiled fondly. "Anything, Princess."

"And you won't say anything to anyone?" she pressed.

"Not a soul."

"Even Garcia?"

He winked. "Even her."

"I have a son," she said, taking the plunge since she had already gotten that far. "No one else knows – it's a long story. He's six and he's an absolute sweetheart and right now, he's got the chicken pox and I miss him to death..." She let out a heavy breath and sank back into her seat.

If he were surprised by her whirlwind admission, he hid it well. "Chicken pox is the worst," he agreed. "My sisters and I all got it at the same time. I don't think my mom slept a wink all week." He seemed to notice her face fall a little at that. "It must be hard to be away from him so much."

She nodded. "I never thought chicken pox would be so appealing," she said wistfully.

He chuckled a little. "You catch it as a kid?" he asked.

She nodded. "When I was five – we lived in Russia at the time. My mother was busy trying to keep the peace with the Soviets, so she was too busy to take care of me, leaving it to my nanny. She covered all my spots with zelyonka – it means 'green stuff'. Burned like absolute hell, but it worked. I always told myself that I was never going to be that parent that was never there. And I am."

"Hey," he said gently. "You want to be there. That's a big difference from being an absent parent. I'm sure he understands."

"I never wanted him to have to..."

"Coming from someone who's been there," he said, leaning forwards to take her hands in his, "The fact that you feel bad for missing things, that shows that you're a good parent. I never cared that my dad missed things because I knew it hurt him more than it did me. I just cherished all the more the things he made it to."

"Yeah?" She smiled hopefully.

"You're a hell of a mother, Princess. Trust me."

She fixed him with her best stern glare. "You wouldn't be hitting on a mother, now would you?"

He burst out laughing. "You say that like you're chewing glass," he teased.

"No offence to your mighty ego," she said with a smirk, "But I doubt my fiancé would appreciate your charms."

"Fiancé, huh?" She didn't miss the subtle shift in his flirtatious smile.

She nodded. "Kieran," she said, using Ian's WITSEC identity (it meant 'little dark one' which made Ian laugh). "Irish expat. I met him when I worked in Boston. Declan is his son, but I adopted him when he was three."

"I'd love to meet them someday," he said and she knew he meant it. She didn't point out that it probably wasn't a good idea, given that Ian already had a jealous streak and Morgan flirted like his life depended on it.

Morgan didn't ask why he wasn't allowed to tell anyone about her family, but she knew he was forming his own theories. She also knew he'd keep it to himself – if there was one thing Derek Morgan was, it was a man of his word.

"I'd like that," she agreed, even though it could never happen.

Chapter Text


Declan recovered shortly after Emily arrived home. Just in time for Ian to come down with a bad case of shingles.

Ian didn't get sick very often; in fact, in all the time that Emily had known him, he'd only been sick once and even then, it lasted all of twenty-four hours. As it turned out, though, when he did get sick, he turned into a helpless kitten. It would have been rather amusing to see him so utterly weak and defenseless, if it weren't for the fact that he was in an incredible amount of pain and could barely get out of bed.

For the first few days, Emily was run off her feet taking care of him and their rambunctious six year old who, now that he was better, had more energy than ever. Not to mention Tafann who had already doubled in size and had, if possible, even more energy than Declan. As much as she liked taking care of her boys, she was entirely exhausted and couldn't wait for Ian to recover.

Then, as it inevitably did, the call came in that there was a case. And if she was a little glad to be getting out of the house, she couldn't exactly be blamed for that.

Ian recognized the expression that followed her phone ringing by now. "Gotta run, Love?" he asked.

Emily chewed her thumbnail thoughtfully for a moment, then shook her head. "I can't leave now – someone needs to look after Declan and you're in no position to take care of yourself, let alone a kindergartener.

"I'm a grown man, Emily. I can take care of myself," he insisted, followed by a groan of pain as he sat up in bed.

Emily raised a brow. "You're in so much pain you can barely move," she pointed out, passing him a dose of painkillers and antivirals as if to punctuate her statement.

"Well, you can't just not go – it's your job..."

"I can take a personal day or..." she trailed off helplessly. "I can't leave you and him alone."

"What about your mother?" he suggested.

Emily's look was one that said 'don't be ridiculous'. "Mother doesn't do more than an hour or two at a time." She silently wished she had more family. Then, a wary look stole across her face, not sure that he was going to be thrilled about her idea. "There is one way..."

He frowned at the look in her eyes, reading her all too easily. "I'm not sure I like where this is going," he said warily.

"I told someone about you," she said, bravely forging ahead in spite of his skepticism, adding an over-bright 'please don't be mad' smile just in case.

"Oh...?" He knew what that smile meant.

"One of my coworkers. And he's promised not to say anything to anyone." Ian opened his mouth to interrupt, but she didn't give him a chance. "His mother is in town and she's really sweet and I'm sure she wouldn't mind watching Declan for a day or two until you feel better."

"I don't know, Emily..." It had taken over a year for him to trust her with Declan and she was asking him to trust a stranger he'd never met whose son was a federal agent whom he'd also never met.

"I'm open to other suggestions," she said, shrugging uselessly, knowing there weren't any other options.

Unfortunately, he knew there were none. "And you're absolutely certain she can be trusted?" he pressed. "You'd trust her with our son?"

"She raised three children alone after her husband died and they're all really wonderful people. She'll be fine with Declan for a few days."

"If something happens to him, it's your fault," he said petulantly and she knew she'd won.

"Hey, Morgan? I've got a huge favour to ask," Emily nearly begged over the phone. She was already driving to his house with Declan in the backseat.

"It'll cost you," he teased, apparently either not sensing her desperation or trying to lighten the mood.

"Your mom's in town for a few more days, right?" she asked, knowing it was on odd request, considering she'd only met the woman once before and it hadn't been under the best circumstances.

"Yeah..." he said slowly, curiously. Then, unable to resist joking, added, "You need a recipe for peach cobbler?"

"Bigger favour than that." She seemed to rethink after a moment and added, "But if she's made some, I wouldn't say no to a piece."

He laughed. "What's this big favour, then?"

"My fiancé came down with shingles and he's in a lot of pain and he's in no state to look after Declan and I don't have anyone else to look after him. So, I was hoping your mom could watch him for a day or two?" She paused for a moment. "I wouldn't ask if I had another option. And we'll pay her, of course."

A new voice came on the line. "I wouldn't hear of it, Emily. I'm happy to watch your son and I won't take a single cent."

"But..." she started to argue.

Derek's voice came from the distance, "Don't argue with her, Em, she won't let you win. Too stubborn." Emily could almost hear Fran's eye roll.

"If you're sure..." Emily pressed.

"Nothing would make me happier."

"Are you sure you're going to be okay, Schnecke?" Emily asked, suddenly worried about leaving Declan. She'd never left him with anyone but Louise who had been with him since he was a baby. And even if she trusted Fran, it was still nerve-wracking.

"He'll be fine, Emily, I promise," Fran said, smiling a knowing smile having been the same position.

Declan nodded eagerly, cookie crumbs already dusting his face and the front of his shirt – Fran had already plied him with chocolate chip cookies, so he was more than content to stay.

"Gramma Fran said she'd play Candyland with me!" he trilled, brandishing the game box he'd brought. He was already calling her Gramma – and she couldn't exactly blame him, Fran was more of a grandma type than the Ambassador.

"You're sure about this, Fran?" Emily asked yet again.

"She's sure, Em, and we've gotta go," Derek called from the door.

"He's right," Fran said, patting Emily's shoulder maternally.

Emily sighed heavily, then pulled Declan into a tight embrace. "Call me if you need anything. I'll be back as soon as I can. Be good. Promise me."

"I promise, Mommy. I love you. Bye." He kissed her cheek, then ran off to set up Candyland.

"Uh-oh, waterworks incoming..." Morgan said, seeing the way Emily's face fell. He dragged her out the door. "They'll be fine. Mama's an old pro and we are gonna be late and Hotch will have our asses on a platter!"

She couldn't help but laugh a little at that, even if it was a choked, watery sound.

Chapter Text


No Way Out II

"Do you think I did the right thing?" Emily asked out of the blue as she curled her hair. She caught Ian's eye in the mirror, his expression one of utter confusion. "With you," she clarified.

"I'm afraid you've lost me, Love," he replied, fiddling with the ends of his tie.

She smiled fondly at his reflection. "With you – with us..." she elaborated, indicating between the two of them with the curling iron.

"Oh..." He seemed lost for words and a little worried she might accidentally burn him. "What makes you ask?"

She sighed and turned to meet his gaze, leaning back against the vanity. "A woman asked me if it was wrong that she loved a serial killer and I told her that you don't choose who you fall in love with..." She glanced down at the floor, then back up at him through her lashes. "Do you think that's true?"

He hummed thoughtfully, but didn't seem to have an answer. Or, at least, an answer that she wanted to hear, if such a thing existed.

"Do you think I chose to love you, in spite of everything?" she pressed, desperate for some kind of absolution she didn't normally crave.

"I think it only matters that you do," he said, studying her. He, at least, didn't need any reassurance.

She sunk her teeth into her bottom lip in thought. "Even knowing everything I did about you, about what you'd done...I still fell for you. I went into it knowing I'd have to pretend, but none of it was..." She flicked her tongue out to nurse the spot her teeth had worn. "I think about what kind of person that makes me..."

"You think you're...evil? Because you love me?" He tried to keep his voice gentle and soft, lest Declan hear from where he was splayed on their bed watching TV and likely rumpling his dress shirt.

She shrugged awkwardly – it wasn't that she didn't have an answer, but rather that she wasn't sure he'd like it.

"There isn't much I believe in, but I know that there's true evil in this world – I've seen it – and I know that you aren't it. I believe that, sure as anything." He seemed to think for a moment. "Perhaps, you're the purest kind of good."

She gave a little self-deprecating snort and rolled her eyes as she turned back to the mirror to finish doing her hair.

"No, I mean it," he insisted, approaching behind her to rest his hands on her shoulders. "You saw past everything to see who I am underneath it and instead of horror, you found only love. That's something I never believed would be given to me, something I didn't deserve."

"Oh, Ian..." she started to soothe, but he didn't let her finish.

"I have no delusions. I know I wasn't a good man. I didn't deserve your love, but somehow it was given to me anyway. I don't understand why, but every day, I thank the Lord that it was."

"That doesn't answer my question," she pointed out.

He laughed a little. "I think it's part of yourself, you couldn't have helped it anymore than you could stop the sun from burning."

She seemed to think that over for a moment, apparently deciding it was true or, at least, she liked the way it sounded. She ran her fingers through her hair, sending her loose curls cascading around her shoulders.

"I'm a lucky man," he said and she wasn't sure if he were referring to their conversation or their appearance. He leaned in to press a kiss to the spot where her neck met her shoulder.

Either way, she rolled her eyes, elbowing him playfully in the chest as a warning not to start anything they didn't have the time to finish. "Declan," she called into the bedroom. "Are you ready to go?"

He came bounding into the bathroom looking rather bedraggled. His hair that had been neatly combed now looked like it hadn't seen a brush in weeks and the tie Ian had nearly had to wrestle Declan to get tied was askew. "Ready!" he shouted.

Emily groaned. "You look like a ragamuffin!" she cried, reducing him to a fit of giggles. "All your friends are going to look really nice for your kindergarten graduation," she informed him, getting down on her knees to meet his eyes, "Do you want to look like you don't own a comb?"

He shrugged.

She looked to Ian for help, desperately hoping this wasn't the start of a phase.

Taking pity on her, Ian joined her on Declan's level. "Look how pretty your Ma looks..." he said. "Don't you want to look really nice like her and make her proud?"

Declan pursed his lips, giving the matter serious thought.

"You know," Ian added, as if it were an afterthought. "We're going out for ice cream afterwards and if you don't look nice and handsome, they'll only give you vanilla..."

Declan's eyes went wide. "But I don't like vanilla!" he exclaimed.

Ian shrugged. "Then I guess you better brush your hair..."

Emily was reduced to tears.

In all the time he'd known her, Ian had never seen her sob like that. "Why are you crying, Love?" he asked, a little desperately.

She kept her eyes trained on Declan as he shook the teacher's hand and she gave him a little diploma. "He's so grown up," she whispered hoarsely. "Before you know it, we're going to be watching him graduate from high school and he won't need me anymore!"

"He just turned six," Ian pointed out, "That's a long way off from eighteen."

She shook her head, bottom lip wobbling pitifully. "No, it's not..."

Smiling fondly at the woman who loved him in spite of all the reasons not to, who loved his son with her entire heart, he pulled her into his side and kissed the top of her head. "One day at a time, Love," he whispered. "One day at a time."