Work Header

Changed for the Better

Chapter Text

The entire Bureau, if not the entire Department of Justice, was aware of the lengths Emily Prentiss would go for her team.

They were aware of how she had risked her career and the entire BAU A-team in order to prove Spencer Reid was innocent when all the evidence initially pointed to him as the unsub. They were aware of how she was suspended as unit chief when her actions caught the attention of AD Linda Barnes. They were aware of how she had shouldered the finances needed to pay the overtime salaries of FBI and SWAT agents when Spencer Reid and Penelope Garcia were abducted. Those in higher positions and the agents, who have been with the Bureau for at least a decade and had witnessed the team's growth, were aware that she had faked her death nine years ago to protect her team from Ian Doyle.

Everyone who worked at the Bureau knew that Emily Prentiss would do anything for her team. What they didn't know was that, right now, she wanted to put David Rossi's head through a wall, and she wasn't going to blame it on the pregnancy hormones too.

"Emily, please take a seat, you're going to wear out the carpet," Penelope begged, trying to get the pregnant woman to stop pacing. Sadly, her pleas fell on deaf ears; Emily could only hear Spencer's voice, repeating itself over and over like a mix tape recorded specifically to amplify her emotions of guilt, anxiety, and anger.

JJ's down. She's been hit. We need an ambulance, now!

They had been trying to get in touch with him ever since they received word that the ambulance had safely arrived at the hospital, but all they got was radio silence. It did nothing to calm the nerves driving Emily insane.

JJ could be dead and she wouldn't know. JJ, her best friend for who knew how long now, her surrogate sister, was probably dead, and her blood would be on Emily's hands.

"Emily." Emily closed her eyes and balled her hands into fists, slowly turning around to face Dave, who was looking at her warily.

"I thought I told you to focus on the Everett Lynch case," she cut him off, opening her eyes and glaring daggers towards him.

Dave winced at the cold tone of her voice and the glare she was giving him. He knew that glare; it was typically reserved for unsubs and uncooperative suspects and/or witnesses. When she had become unit chief, he had witnessed some of his colleagues be subjected to her glare, so even though he had been her sort-of mentor when he returned to the Bureau, he was extremely terrified of being subjected to it. Sometimes he wondered if Emily and Hotch had attended a seminar together on Glaring People to Submission 101.

"I gave you an order, Rossi," she continued. "And you went against it."

"I know, but the similarity of this case to the Lynch case really bothered me, so I did some research and compiled a list of retired and current doctors or surgeons within the Baltimore area. While I was doing that, I found out that Dr. Herst had nearly gotten engaged with Roberta Lynch so I figured he might have a clue on where Everett Lynch was."

"If you had done exactly what I told you to do and talked to Grace and Roberta, you would've run into Everett Lynch posing as Grace's lawyer. You never needed to confront Herst because we found out that he was the unsub at the same time you probably have."

"Emily – "

"Don't 'Emily' me," she snapped in a harsh tone that made the team exchange a glance of mixed concern and fear at her. "You defied a direct order!"

There was a fire raging in her eyes, but the team could only see the tears filling her eyes along with the shaking hands and her heaving chest. It made a scary sight, but right now, they were more afraid of the effects the stress would have on Emily and her baby.

Tara, who had been silent throughout the entire exchange, took tentative steps towards Emily and placed her hands on Emily's shoulders. She withdrew them immediately when the woman froze. "Emily, please take a deep breath," she said. The emotions reflected in her eyes betrayed the calm tone of her voice.

"I don't need to take a deep breath, I'm fine."

"Emily, honey, you're stressed out," Penelope said. She exchanged a nod with Tara and took over the role of comforting Emily. "And yes, I know that's a specialty that comes with this job, but now you have to think about your little one, too. She does probably not like it in there, don't you think?"

As if her daughter could hear Penelope's words, Emily felt a series of panicked kicks and movements and instantly dropped the glare on her face. She turned her head to meet Penelope's gaze and took in the genuine concern reflected in her eyes. Bowing her head, Emily let herself be led to her office and sank down on the couch the moment she was inside. She distantly heard Tara say a few words to her but her mind didn't register what they were. Eventually, she heard the door close and then it was only her and Penelope.

Emily moved her hand to cradle her baby bump and rubbed it gently with her fingers, whispering soft words of solace. "Oh, mon amour. Je suis vraiment désolée de t'avoir fait peur. Toi et moi, ça va." She let a small smile appear on her face when she felt the panicky movements inside her begin to calm down. She ignored the gaze Penelope had on her and put all her focus on calming her daughter, and herself, eventually. "C'es exact. Vous pouvez vous calmer maintenant. Maman va bien, et toi aussi, chérie. Je taime, bébé."

When the movements finally stopped, Emily let out a shaky sigh and closed her eyes tightly. She opened them when she felt the cushion sink beside her and smiled at Penelope, who returned it without hesitation.

"Are you okay?" Penelope asked.

"She is," Emily nodded and sniffled, feeling tears pool in her eyes. "Me? I'm not sure yet."

Penelope was at a loss for words. Getting Emily to admit that she wasn't okay was like pulling teeth, so she was surprised at the candor the woman usually lacked. She guessed that the pregnancy hormones driving the woman insane were to thank, and she would gladly be milking it until Emily gives birth. She opened her mouth to reply but was cut off.

"I don't think I will be okay until I see how JJ is doing," Emily whispered. She hated how shaky her voice was. It made her sound vulnerable. "I can't get Reid's voice out of my head."

Penelope bit her bottom lip to stop it from quivering. JJ was the only member of the team that has never gotten shot before, which led to them joking that even the bullets were afraid of JJ. This recent event had shaken all of them, but unlike Emily, they didn't have a baby growing inside them, requiring them to keep their blood pressures normal. It was why Penelope wanted to make sure Emily was absolutely okay before she let her emotions get the best of her.

"JJ will be okay," Penelope reassured her.

"Rossi was right," Emily cried, wiping the tears on her cheeks. "I should've listened to him when he said this case would have something to do with Lynch. This is my fault."

"Emily, honey, this wasn't your fault," Penelope said, swallowing the sob that was threatening to escape her throat. "You were not responsible for this."

"You can't say that, Pen," Emily said. She looked up and met the blonde woman's gaze. Both pairs of eyes were glassy and filled with tears. "You can't say that when JJ is fighting for her life just because I didn't listen to Rossi. She could die, and it would be my fault if she did."

Before Penelope could gather her thoughts in order to formulate a reply without bursting into tears, the door opened and Andrew walked in. The worried look on his face deepened when he saw Emily sobbing on the couch. Penelope stood up and walked towards the door to leave the couple alone, stopping briefly when Andrew thanked her.

Andrew took a seat beside Emily and took her shaking figure into his arms. "Hey. It's okay."

"No it's not," Emily choked out through her tears.

"Breathe, babe. Let it out." He tucked her head against his chest and squeezed her tight in his arms, rocking gently back and forth. Andrew said nothing more as he rubbed circles on her back. They sat like that for a couple of minutes before her breathing turned from body sobs to hiccups, and only then did Andrew pull away from her. He cupped her cheeks and tilted her head upwards so she would meet his gaze, wiping away the tears on her face with his thumb.

"Why are you here?" she asked.

"Tara called and told me what happened," he said. His heart broke when Emily's face crumpled in tears again. "Emily, it's not your fault."

"It feels like it is," she hiccuped. "I should've listened to Rossi. Or maybe I should've made sure he followed my orders. Bottom line is, I should've done more to make sure no one in my team got hurt."

"Emily, you never could have predicted that it would all go down like this. No one could have. You did what you thought what you thought was appropriate for the situation. This was just out of your control," he said.

"If JJ dies I would never forgive myself."

"JJ's going to be okay," he reassured her. "She's one of the strongest women I've ever met, and I'm sure she won't let a bullet take her down. If she was here, what would she be saying to you?"

Emily sniffled. "I-I don't know. Maybe she'd be the one calming me down before you arrived. And she'd be telling me it wasn't my fault and I wouldn't believe her because right now it's the hardest thing to believe."

Andrew squeezed her tightly. "When she gets through this, and she will, that's exactly what she'll be doing. She knows you love her, and that you would fight heaven and earth to make sure she gets to go home to Will and her boys. She knows that you would never put her in danger. The entire team knows that you would protect them with all you have, and they would never blame you for anything that happens. Okay?"

Emily nodded. "Okay."

She leaned her head against his chest, exhausted from her tears. She knew that as much as she believed in her abilities to lead the team, there would still be some unexpected variables to be accounted for, but with her friend fighting for her life, she couldn't but feel as though it was her fault. She felt the flutters inside her once more, but this time, they were relaxed movements. It felt like her butterball was trying to comfort her the way she had done a few minutes ago, and the thought put a small smile on her face. She reached out for Andrew's hand and placed their hands on top of her bump.

"Is she moving?" Andrew asked.

"Yeah. A lot."

"I bet that's her way of letting you know it's not your fault."

Emily scoffed and punched his arm lightly. Andrew was glad that, although there were still tears in her eyes, she seemed calmer. "Of course, I'm sure an unborn twenty-three week old baby already knows that her mom is crazy and does her best to reassure her that she isn't."

"Hey don't underestimate her like that," Andrew teased. "She's your daughter after all, so there's a high chance she's going to inherit the mothering gene."

"And you shouldn't underestimate yourself," Emily responded without missing a beat. "She's your daughter, too, and she could get it from you."

Andrew gasped dramatically. "I do not have a mothering gene."

"Whatever lets you sleep at night, babe," Emily said, giggling when he pouted at her. She leaned in and placed a kiss on his cheek. "I'm sorry," she whispered. "I'm sorry I'm being so… irrational. I haven't had a rational thought in over fifteen weeks now."

"You have nothing to apologize for, darling," he said, rubbing her back gently. "Nothing at all."

Once Andrew made sure Emily was okay and had calmed down, she joined the rest of the team in the conference room to help narrow down where Everett Lynch would run to now that he had Grace with her. She refused to acknowledge Dave's lingering presence beside her, and the only words she had spoken to him were related to the case. The team exchanged glances at every one-sided conversation they had, but decided not to say anything that would incriminate them, a wise decision if Emily could say so.

Emily jumped at the opportunity to see JJ at the hospital when the ballistics report showed the possibility that it was Grace who shot at her, and not Everett Lynch. She grabbed her purse and was on her way towards the elevator when Dave stopped her and offered to drive her there.

"Thanks, but I can drive myself," she told him, giving him a look that told him not to argue with her.

"I know you can, but I'm still offering because I have to drop by the penitentiary to talk to Roberta anyways," he said.

She glared at him for a moment, taking pleasure at the subtle nervous gestures he did under her withering stare. It was harsh, but she wasn't really looking forward to talking to him. Not yet, anyway, because she knew she could never stay mad at him for too long. "Fine," she relented.

The drive to the hospital would only be a half-hour long, and ten minutes of that time was spent with only the radio music filling in the tense silence between them. It wasn't too long before Dave reached over to turn off the radio.

"I liked that song," Emily grumbled. She didn't. She didn't even know what the title of the song was.

"I'm sorry," Dave said. "I should've listened to you. If I had, maybe JJ wouldn't be at the hospital."

"It wasn't your fault, Dave," Emily said, repeating Andrew and Penelope's words in hopes of letting herself fully accept the truth. "I mean, you didn't exactly tell Lynch to shoot her, did you?"

"No, but I could've stopped them."

Emily sighed. Was this how she sounded a few minutes ago? She made a mental note to give Penelope an extra hug when she got back, and to show Andrew how grateful she was for him. "We couldn't have predicted this at all, Dave. Everett Lynch played us all, so the blame is his. I know that it's hard to accept that right now with JJ still in the hospital, but we didn't do this to her. We can't-we shouldn't have let this get the best of us."

Dave nodded and glanced at her, deflating when he saw that she still wouldn't look at him. He sighed and said, "There's more you want to say."

Emily scoffed and shook her head. "Damn right there is."

"Emily –"

"Do you trust me at all, Dave?"

"Of course I do. I trust you with my life, you know that."

"Then why did you lie to me about investigating the Lynch case?" she demanded. "After the trail went cold a few weeks ago, you told me you were going to wait until Captain Paige called. Two days ago, I found out that you made a formal request for an expanded air and ground search of parks in Baltimore city."

Dave closed his eyes briefly in shame. "I didn't know how to ask for your permission."

"You could've asked, Dave. Simple as that. I know that this is one of those cases we can't just shake off because the unsub is still out there, and if you had asked I would've gotten the team on it again. But you went beyond my head to do it, and that-that infuriates me, Dave. Not only did you disrespect my authority, you showed that you didn't trust me or the team to help you with the case. With recent events, I'm inclined to believe that you really don't."

"You know that's not true," Dave said. He was saddened that Emily would come to this conclusion, but if the tables were turned, he would've concluded the same thing. "I trust you and the team wholeheartedly, but Lynch was my problem. He got out under my vicinity, and I didn't want to drag you guys out of cases for something personal."

"The thing is, Dave, personal or not we would've helped you because we're a family. If one of us was suffering, we would've done everything to ensure that they wouldn't suffer alone and for so long."

"I know that now," Dave said. "I'm sorry."

"I know you are, and I forgive you, but this cannot happen again. Am I clear?" she asked. She sighed in relief when Dave nodded. "The next time this happens, you'll be stuck with Garcia in Quantico for future cases."

"I understand." He reached over and placed a hand on Emily's knee. "Are we okay?" he asked in a hesitant tone.

Emily raised an eyebrow at him. "We are. Lucky for you, my butterball has me craving Italian food lately, and I don't know anyone else who would cook a plethora of Italian food at my request." She smiled when Dave laughed.

"Your kid has fine taste," Dave said. "So what specifically should I make?"

Much to Dave's relief, the rest of the drive to the hospital was spent with Emily raving on about her cravings and ranting about how she was craving a lot of sushi when she wasn't allowed raw fish. He had suggested eating California rolls to satisfy her craving, which earned him a look of disgust in return.

Emily ran into Spencer at the hallway where he was waiting outside JJ's room. When he saw her, he asked about how the case was going and she updated him on what they had unearthed about Grace and Everett.

"I need to ask JJ if she can remember who pulled the trigger, because if it turns out to be Grace, then this changes our profile," she finished.

"A child would do a lot of things to get their parents' approval," Spencer said. "She could be doing this to make Everett proud of her."

"That's what we think too, but we're still trying to find out where Everett is going to hide now that he got Grace out of jail," Emily said.

Spencer nodded. "I think I'm going to head back to the BAU. I'm not much help here."

"If that's what you want, then go ahead. But if you can, I'd rather you wait for me so we can head back at the same time."

"Actually," Spencer mumbled. "I think you should stay here."

"Reid —"

"— you've already dealt with a lot of stress today, with JJ getting shot and Lynch playing us like this. I know you can handle it, but I don't think your butterball can," he explained. Emily said nothing and glared at him. "Do you remember when you got mad at us when we became overprotective at you? You told us that you were pregnant, not an invalid, and we understood that. But you also told us that if you were going too far or pushing yourself too hard that we had your permission to tie you up in a chair."

"Are you saying you're going to tie me up?" Emily asked, attempting a weak smile to lighten the conversation.

"I would never do that even if there was a gun pointed at my head because I know you would do anything to make sure your daughter is safe," he replied in a genuine tone, "and I know you would listen to us when we remind you to take a breath."

Emily chuckled, the action making a few tears slip down her face. She wiped them hastily and glared weakly at him. "You're guilt-tripping me."

"Is it working?"

"It is, and you are officially the worst friend in the world," she laughed. Spencer smiled and gave her a brief hug, pressing a kiss on her head before pulling away from her. "I'll call once JJ confirms who pulled the trigger. And if you run into him, tell Andrew where I am."

"I will," he said. Emily watched him disappear around the corner before stepping inside JJ's room.

"Hey," she greeted. She giggled when Henry ran towards her and gave her a tight hug and a gentle pat on her growing belly. She smiled at Will and narrowed her eyes at JJ. "How come you look that good after just getting shot?"

JJ rolled her eyes in amusement. "Beginner's luck, I guess."

"Right," Emily said, drawling out the vowel. "Actually, I wanted to you about the case because the ballistics report just came back, and we need your confirmation on… something," she censored her words the moment she remembered that Henry and Michael were in the room.

"We'll let you two talk alone," Will spoke in his Southern drawl. He called the boys and told them they were going to the cafeteria.

"It's not your fault," JJ said the moment they were alone. Emily turned her head towards the blonde and raised an eyebrow at her.


JJ gave her an unamused look and gestured towards the chair next to her bed. "Have a seat."

Emily returned the look but sat down on the chair, shifting to make herself comfortable, which was staring to get difficult. Most days, her migraines were the least of her worries because the back aches were worse. "What were you trying to say?" Emily asked.

Rolling her eyes, JJ couldn't help but think about how it was typical of Emily to be somehow preoccupied when people were reminding her of words she needed to hear. "I said it wasn't your fault that I'm here."

"JJ — "

" — Emily," JJ cut her off with a sigh. "This entire thing happened out of nowhere. No one predicted that this was how things were going to end, so don't be too hard on yourself. I don't blame you, none of us do."

The blonde woman's words reminded Emily of Andrew's words earlier, and it made her chuckle as she reached for JJ's hand. She felt tears burning her eyes and mentally groaned at how her emotions seemed to be out of her control. "I'm really glad you're okay. I don't know what I would've done if you – " Emily never got to finish her sentence before the tears slipped down her face.

"Oh, Emily," JJ whispered, squeezing Emily's hand. She attempted to sit up, but stopped at the sudden pain rushing through her torso. "I'm okay. I'll be out of here and back at the office before you could say merde."

Emily laughed, wiping her tears away. "How long do I have until I have full reign over my emotions again?" she whined.

"Five years, give or take. And that's just the minimum."

"Damn it." JJ laughed as much as she could without straining her wound at the sullen expression on Emily's face. If Emily noticed her winces, she didn't mention it. "By the way, the ballistics report stated that the bullet you were shot with came from a government-issued gun."

"It was Grace," JJ admitted. "I asked Everett to drop the gun the moment I cornered them in the underground tunnel, and when I leaned down to get it, Grace took out a gun from her jacket pocket and shot me." She cleared her throat when her voice cracked at the end. Emily squeezed her hand. "I was about to point my gun back at her, but I was too late."

"We'll get them," Emily said in a firm tone, giving JJ's hand one last squeeze before she placed both hands on JJ's bed and pushed herself off the chair. She glared at JJ when she heard a suppressed snort fill the room. "Rude."

"Sorry," JJ chuckled. "Pregnancy really looks good on you, Emily Prentiss. I mean it."

Emily narrowed her eyes at JJ. "The drugs are doing a number on you, huh?"

"Fine, don't believe me," JJ rolled her eyes. "But please get yourself checked out."

"I'm fine," Emily waved her hand dismissively.

"Humor me," JJ said. "Besides, if you go, they're going to set up an emergency ultrasound for you and you get to see your little butterball, so really, you've got nothing to lose."

"I have a feeling you're not taking no for an answer."

"I will get off this bed and drag you to the nurse's station myself," JJ nodded with an innocent smile on her face.

Emily sighed. "Fine, but I'm only doing this because I'm your friend and I don't want you to hurt yourself."

"What you are is a true example to the masses," JJ teased, making Emily roll her eyes.

"I'm going now, mom," Emily said. When she reached the doorway, she looked back at JJ and smiled. "I'm really glad you're okay."

JJ returned the smile. "Me too, Emily."

Emily gave her one last smile before making her way towards the nurse's station to ask for an emergency check-up.