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Changed for the Better

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The baby shower was scheduled to be at three in the afternoon, but Luke and Penelope asked her to come an hour earlier to bring the cake, which Penelope had called the “surprise gift for Kristy.” The woman pregnant at thirty weeks was advised to watch her sugar intake after her latest check-up found that her blood sugar had skyrocketed, and so Emily, knowing she would soon experience the sugar ban and withdrawal Kristy was currently going through, took it upon herself to make sure the woman gets some cake on her baby shower.

Two blocks away from their apartment, there was a bakery she and Andrew frequented enough that they had managed to befriend the owner, Louis. Emily had called in a favor and asked if he could whip up a pregnancy-friendly cake, which Louis had gladly agreed to do, and even sent Emily a jar of pregnancy-friendly cookies as well, with a note telling her she could ask for more if she wanted to.

“Hey!” Luke greeted as Emily entered his apartment. He took the cake from her and led her towards the kitchen. “No Andrew today?”

“He’s stuck in a meeting, but he promises to be here soon,” Emily said, sitting down on a bar stool. She looked around and saw that most of the decorations were already placed, including the table reserved for presents for either Kristy or the baby. “Is there anything I can do to help? Other than bring the cake, of course.”

“Oh no, you are not doing anything, baby mama.” Emily turned around to see Penelope enter the kitchen. Penelope grinned and gave her a quick hug, patting her baby bump lightly. “You are going to sit, relax, and open this present I got for you,” she added, placing three shopping bags, two pink ones and one yellow one, on the counter top next to Emily.

“Garcia,” Emily groaned. “It’s not my baby shower.”

Penelope waved her hand dismissively. “But you are carrying a butterball inside you, one that will be ruling over the J. Edgar Hoover building by the age of two months, and it is my job to make sure she gets all the best things possible,” Penelope explained. Luke cleared his throat, making her roll her eyes. “Alright, one of the bags is from Roxy.”

Despite the slight irritation, Emily couldn’t help but smile amusedly at how Penelope acknowledged Luke’s present for her butterball by mentioning his dog instead of Luke himself.  For two years now, Luke had been an important member of the team but Penelope has yet to drop the hazing attitude towards him. Emily knew that as unit chief and Penelope’s boss, she could put a stop to it but she noticed that Luke seemed to enjoy being the bane of the technical analyst’s existence and decided to sit back and allow herself to be entertained by the back-to-back banter between the pair. Besides, she knew that there was a little something-something beyond the lines, which was also the reason why she had placed a hefty bet on the team’s secret betting pool about the pair.

“Pen, I appreciate all of this. I really do,” Emily said in a genuine tone, “but this is too much. She isn’t even born yet but she already has more clothes than I do.”

“There is no such thing as too much in my vocabulary,” Penelope said, giving her an incredulous look.

“Fine, but the daily presents have to stop, okay? I mean it. Andrew and I are drowning in onesies and dresses my daughter might only wear once in her life.”

“Not okay!” Penelope pouted. “Your baby girl’s the first girl of the second generation, not counting Kristy’s baby since she and Matt are waiting until she gives birth to know what it is.”

“And Joy and Portia,” Luke said, smiling sheepishly when Penelope turned to glare at him. “But they are almost your age, so it would’ve been impossible for you to spoil them since you were a baby or a kid yourself.”

“What I was trying to say before the new guy so rudely decided to interrupt my line of thought was that girls are so much fun to shop for! Girl stuff is way cuter than boy stuff!” Penelope said.

Emily sighed, and ran a hand through her hair. She knew that asking Penelope Garcia, the self-proclaimed fairy godmother of the BAU children, to stop buying her unborn daughter gifts would be impossible, but never let it be said that she didn’t try. “Alright, I concede, but I hold my ground on daily presents.” She saw that Penelope was about to protest and decided to put a stop to it. “The government doesn’t pay much, Garcia, and baby stuff isn’t actually cheap. I’m not letting you spend your entire paycheck on daily presents for my daughter. Monthly presents.”

“Weekly presents.”

“Every three weeks.”

“Weekly presents,” Penelope repeated. “Take it or leave it, Emily Elizabeth Prentiss.”

“Hey!” Emily cried out. “No need to bring out the second name, Penelope Grace!”

“Ha, joke’s on you, Emily Elizabeth, because unlike you, I happen to love my second name,” Penelope said with a smug smirk on her face. “Weekly presents.”

“Fine,” Emily pouted, narrowing her eyes at how Penelope did a tiny dance of success. “You suck.”

“If sucking means winning, then I concede,” Penelope said with a cackle, only fuelling Emily’s slight irritation towards her. “Open your present. The pink ones first.”

Still frowning, Emily reached for the pink bag and opened it, smiling at what it contained. Inside was a pastel yellow bath lotus, a type of baby cradle meant to create a safe seat to support babies during bathtime. Emily had seen videos of babies looking completely comfortable on their tubs with the lotus, and had actually included it on the list of items they needed to get for their daughter.

The second pink bag contained a transparent jelly bag full of sea animal-themed bath toys, including a shark with a net inside of its open mouth. She opened the bag and took out the purple toy penguin, barely managing to hold back a squeal at how its wings flapped around when she pressed the button on its behind.

“Okay that’s completely inaccurate, because I looked it up and there are no purple penguins in real life,” Penelope said. “Oddly enough, there are blue penguins in New Zealand, and I tried to look for a set with blue penguins instead of purple ones, but—“

“Pen, I love it,” Emily said with a bright smile on her face. She put down the toy and wrapped her arms around Penelope, who didn’t hesitate to hug her back. “I love it so much. Thank you.”

“Anything for you and your mini me, mon amour,” Penelope said.

Emily laughed at the nickname. She stepped away and took more toys from the bag, smiling at the different functions of each one. “These are so cute. Would it be bad if I played with them now?”

“Absolutely not,” Penelope scoffed. “I wanted to buy one for myself.”

“I wouldn’t even blame you if you did,” Emily said with a slight laugh, cooing at a toy dolphin in her hand. “Look at it! It’s so cute I want to bite it.”

Penelope’s eyes widened at the uncharacteristic high octave of Emily’s voice and met Luke’s amused gaze over the brunette’s head. She had to put a hand over her mouth to hide the smile on her face while Luke had to look down and purse his lips together. They both let Emily marvel at the toys before telling her to open the yellow bag, the one from Luke, while Penelope put back the toys in the jelly bag.

Emily barely managed to hold back her tears at Luke’s present. Inside was a baby-sized gray tweed jacket and shorts, with matching black knitted booties and white socks. It was a complete replica of the outfit she wore to work one day, a little office outfit for her daughter.

“Luke,” she said, hating the catch in her voice. Damn hormones. “This is—I love it.”

“Really?” Luke asked with a raised eyebrow. He loved Emily as a friend and admired her strength, resilience, and unwavering support for her team as a boss and colleague, and, like any agent in the BAU, looked for approval from the unit chief. She was a legend, after all, with most of the agents in the Bureau wondering how she lived with a demotion from Interpol Director to unit chief.

“Really,” Emily said, smiling at him. She groaned when she felt a tear slip from her face, quickly wiping it away with her hands. “I really really love it. I was expecting a toy or maybe some baby blankets, but not this, and I just—thank you.”

Luke returned her smile and reached over to give her a quick hug. “Just so you know, I expect photos of you and your little girl in matching tweed jackets once they fit her.”

“You’ll be the first person I’ll send a photo to,” Emily promised.

“So Will is outside right now, drooling all over your boyfriend’s super cool motorcycle,” JJ said, giving Emily a knowing look.

“Ugh, I’m sorry about that,” Emily rolled her eyes, but was unable to hide the fond smile creeping on her face. “It’s sexy, yet statistically stupid.” She hated that motorcycle for the sole reason that while she knew Andrew was a careful and responsible driver, it doesn’t remove the fact that not all motorcycle riders were.

“Ooh, sexy huh?” JJ teased, laughing when Emily bowed her head and had a sudden fascination on the non-existent wrinkles of her cardigan. “Care to share the spicy details?”

“Do you like your job, Agent Jareau?” Emily asked in a serious tone, trying to ignore how she could feel her cheeks heating up. Unfortunately for her, her hormones were too out of whack (as she remembered JJ describing it when she was pregnant with both Henry and Michael) for her to manage to hide the chronic blushing.

“I do, but considering the amount of dirt I have on you, I don’t think you’re actually going to fire me, Chief Prentiss,” JJ replied cheekily. Emily tried to glare but found it was impossible to stop herself from pouting indignantly, making JJ laugh at the expression on her face. “Honey, trying to control your emotions at times like these is not going to do you any good. Trust me. So spill.”

Emily sighed and gave in. “I’ve ridden it twice.”

“And?” JJ asked.

Emily couldn’t help but chuckle at the way JJ was basically bouncing excitedly while waiting for her to continue. “It was during our weekend trip to the Blue Ridge.”

JJ’s mouth dropped open, forming an ‘o.’ “No.

“Yes,” Emily grinned. “It was quite…memorable, for the lack of a better word.”

“Oh it’s memorable alright,” JJ agreed. She knew the details about the weekend trip to Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. It was a trip Emily and Andrew had planned at the last minute on the weekend of Dave’s honeymoon when the Deputy Director had given the BAU A-team the weekend off as a reward for the three back-to-back cases they had solved in one week. JJ knew for a fact that memorable was a correct way of defining the trip, knowing that it was when Emily had finally (finally) confessed to Andrew that she was in love with him, a whole month after he had confessed. “Wait, you said twice. Isn’t that how you guys got here?”

“No, no,” Emily said, eyes wide as she shook her head. “I’m not allowed to ride that thing, thank god, and even if I was, hunting serial killers is enough of a thrill for me,” she said, sharing a laugh with JJ. “Besides, I had to pick up the cake.”

“It’s a great cake by the way,” JJ moaned in delight. “Not too sweet, but not too bland either. And that frosting? Out of this world.”

“I’m glad,” Emily smiled, making a note to tell Louis that his cake was loved by all guests, including Kristy herself.

“You know, I haven’t seen Dave and Krystall yet,” JJ said. “It’s not like him to be late.”

“No it’s not,” Emily agreed, avoiding JJ’s gaze. David Rossi was the living early bird when it came to social hangouts with the team, if only so he could subtly rub in the fact that out of all of them, he was the best host. She had expected Dave to be here when she arrived, and was slightly surprised to find out he had called Luke and let him know he was going to be a little late. Emily suspected it had something to do with the Lynch case, knowing it was the reason why Dave had been acting off for the past six months. But an hour and a half had already passed, and there were still no signs of him and Krystall around Luke’s apartment. It only fueled Emily’s suspicions and she did not like it. “Although I’m sure he’ll have a good excuse.”

JJ’s eyes narrowed curiously at the emphasis on ‘excuse,’ but decided not to question it when she saw the determined set of Emily’s jaw. “Do you want me to call him?”

Emily shook her head. “No. I’ll call him.” She waited for JJ to leave before taking her phone out from her pocket and dialed Dave’s number. When Dave picked up, she could practically feel the nervous energy radiating off of him.

“Hey, Emily,” he greeted in a faux cheerful tone, one Emily easily saw through, confirming her suspicions. “I should be on my way to you guys ASAP.”

“You know it’s not in our jurisdiction,” she said, putting a stop to all the lies he was about to tell her.

“I-I called, and Captain Paige said she would be more than willing to – “

“Dave, I have been more than willing to give you a lot of latitude on the Everett Lynch case,” she said, losing the calm hold she had on her voice. “But over the past six months you have taken it upon yourself to conduct a solo manhunt for the guy. It just can’t continue.”

“I-I’m sorry I didn’t tell you – “

“Stop,” she cut him off, “you want to know what worries me the most? I think you didn’t tell me because you weren’t sure how to lie to me.” Emily felt her throat throb and closed her eyes to try and keep her tears at bay. “Anyway, now really isn’t the time to discuss this. We’ll talk about this later.” Without waiting for his reply, Emily hung up and shoved her phone back in her pocket. She took a seat on a nearby chair and buried her face in the palm of her hands.

She had a lot of respect for Dave, not just as a colleague but also as a friend, and she trusted him with her life. As it turned out, he never felt the same way towards her and didn’t trust her enough to tell her his plans to catch Lynch. If he asked, she would’ve gotten the team on it immediately, not caring about the scrutiny she would’ve received from the upper heads about her decision. It hurt, knowing that he didn’t trust her to help him.

“Emily! There you are, I’ve been looking for you everywhere,” Kristy’s voice brought her back from her reverie and she looked up to meet her concerned gaze. “Why are you crying? Is something wrong?”

“No, no, Kristy, everything’s okay. I’m just, a little exhausted,” Emily reassured half-heartedly, giving Kristy a weak smile. She knew Andrew and her team would’ve effortlessly seen through her façade, and she hoped that Kristy’s lack of profiling skills would get her to not ask any further questions.

Unfortunately for her, Kristy was good at reading facial expressions; it was a skill she had developed when Matt began shielding his expressions from her after the law firm she used to work at was attacked. But Kristy knew, from Matt’s stories, that getting Emily to open up would only lead to her closing in on herself, so she decided not to push. “Well it has been a long day. Penelope told me you were the one who brought that magnificent cake, so you would’ve been here earlier than everyone else, so it’s okay if you and Andrew head out, really.”

“Oh, it’s no big deal,” Emily said with a dismissive wave of her hand. “I’m glad you like it. Louis, he’s the one who made the cake, also sent me a jar of cookies that are amazing. I can send you one too, if you want.”

“Yes please, I need every bit of sugar I can get if I want to keep my sanity,” Kristy said, placing her hand on her stomach. “So far, this one has been relatively easy, but this was the first time I had to watch my sugar intake.”

Emily could only manage a sympathetic smile. She ran a hand down her bump and mentally sent her daughter a message that she better not act up or she would be in big trouble. “You look fantastic by the way,” Emily said. “I only hope to look as good as you do in, what, twenty-nine weeks?”

“Thirty, actually, and thank you, but I am anything except fantastic right now. You on the other hand,” Kristy whistled as she studied Emily from head to toe. “You’re one hot momma,” she said. And she was being genuine. Emily was radiantly glowing in her all black attire of a shirt and leggings, hugging her figure perfectly, under a black cardigan decorated with artworks all over and red accents on the hems.

“You lie,” Emily accused teasingly, a grin forming on her face.

Kristy merely winked. “Matt told me you were having a girl. I bet she already has Andrew wrapped around her tiny little pinkie.”

“Oh tell me about it,” Emily said with a fond eye roll. “She has him at her beck and call, and now he won’t leave me alone.”

“Matt was the same way with all five of them. It was sweet at first, but it became so irritating because he hovered,” Kristy informed her with a rueful smile Emily couldn’t help but return.

“I have to admit, he does give off a sort of chill vibe at first,” Emily nodded, “but once you get to know him a little bit longer, finding out that he hovers a lot doesn’t surprise me.”

“That accurately describes him, yeah,” Kristy threw her head back as she laughed at the description. “Did you guys pick any names yet?”

“Not yet, although Andrew and I plan to reconvene next week to discuss our name options,” she said. “What about you guys? Does the mystery baby number five already have a name?” Emily asked.

“None at all because every time I try to get Matt to choose a name, he always tries to convince me that we should find out what we’re having to make the name choosing easier,” Kristy scoffed.

Emily groaned good-naturedly. “The not knowing is torturing him.”

“I know!” Kristy giggled. “It’s so fun watching him try to profile my OB. Doctor’s appointments have never been so fun until now.”

“You are an evil, evil woman, Kristy Simmons,” Emily gasped, eyes wide at the sudden realization of the woman’s hidden wicked sense of humor. “Pure evil.”

The women shared a laugh before letting a comfortable silence take over for a few moments. Kristy, however, still had her full attention on Emily. She noticed how often the woman had placed a hand on her growing bump, gently rubbing it with the pad of her thumb, as if reminding her baby that she was not being ignored. Kristy was certain the woman was unaware of the soft smile curving the corners of her lips upwards and the sparkle in her eyes as she was unaware of the gestures she made.

“You’re going to be a great mom,” Kristy told her. She smiled when Emily gave her a confused look. “I mean it. That little girl of yours is so lucky to have you as her mom.”

Emily smiled and bowed her head. The compliment was unexpected, and completely out of topic, but she appreciated it nonetheless. Despite the reassurances from Andrew and her team that she would handle motherhood magnificently, she was still terrified and insecure of screwing up. It didn’t help that her gut kept telling her they were only doing it to reassure her. To have Kristy, someone she was still on the process of getting to know, tell her she was going to do great was a relief that took some weight of her shoulders.

“That means a lot to me,” she said, tears brimming at the corners of her eyes. “Thank you, Kristy.”

Kristy wrapped an arm around Emily’s shoulders and smiled. “You’re welcome.”