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Changed for the Better

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After the success of solving the bombing case in Memphis, the Deputy Director gave the BAU team Thursday and Friday off. They gladly accepted, and instead of spending it at home, spending time with their loved ones or catching up on sleep, they offered to help Andrew and Emily move out from their condo and into the greystone. Emily tried to decline at first, but with the magic of Penelope Garcia’s persuasion skills, agreed.

The first day was spent moving and reassembling furniture around the house, which was easier said than done because Emily and Andrew sold most of their old furniture and ordered new ones. By lunch time, they managed to finish the assembly in the office and the dining room, and delegated the rest of the day to assemble the rest of the furniture in the living room. Overall, it was a tiring and uneventful day, but all that was left to do was unloading all the boxes still in the condo.

For their second day, they were down one team member since Matt had to go with Kristy to the hospital to have their last appointment. They all laughed at him when he said maybe this time he can convince Kristy to agree in finding out what the sex of their baby was and wished him luck, even though they knew it was never going to happen.

Luke and Andrew rented a U-Haul truck and drove to the condo to get the rest of the boxes and finish up the paperwork with the landlord. The rest of them stayed behind, unloading boxes and decorating the house.

“I can’t believe you still have this photo,” JJ laughed as she pulled out a picture frame from a box on the coffee table. Emily took a peek over her shoulder and smiled at the photograph in friend’s hand. It was a photo of the team, taken sometime around 2012, if Emily’s estimate was correct. In the middle was Hotch with Jack sitting on his shoulders, wearing the blue ribbon Hotch got when he crossed the finish line of the triathlon. Dave and Spencer stood on either side of him, the former holding the banner Jack had made for Hotch. Derek had his arms wrapped around Penelope, who was covering her ears and seemed to be in pain. The same could be said for JJ and Emily, but Emily was more subtle in hiding her wince and managed to put on a small smile on her face.

“It’s one of my favorite photos of us. It’s perfect… well, if you forget that you, Pen, and I were hung over and wished we were dead, of course,” Emily snickered. “I have learned since then to avoid that acid green drink because that was the worst hangover I have ever experienced.”

“I think we would’ve handled it better if we didn’t have to drag ourselves off our beds at six in the morning to watch Hotch cross the finish line,” JJ said.

“After only two hours of sleep,” Spencer added, smiling smugly at them. With his eidetic memory, all his memories, good or bad, were always fresh in his mind, but the memory of that morning was one of his favorites. He can still see JJ unable to stand properly as she tried to open the latch on her gate, and how he had to drag her to bed because she was always tripping on her feet. He could only imagine how Penelope and Emily were.

“Where do you want me to put this?” JJ asked.

“Just leave it in the box for now. That one’s going to the nursery,” she said.

“Speaking of nursery, I got you a little something,” Dave said.

“Dave, you don’t have to get me any—oh really? That’s a little something?” Emily asked incredulously as she stared at the huge box he placed in front of her.

“You don’t have to open it now, but it’s a baby rocker,” he said and wrapped an arm around a speechless Emily, smiling like a proud idiot.

“Damn, Rossi,” Tara whistled as she studied the picture of the rocker chair on the box. Emily glanced at the brand name and raised an eyebrow at Dave. “This thing looks stylish. Where did you get this?”

“Joy visited for a day last week, and I asked her to go with me to get Emily a present. She said that was currently the It-brand on the baby registry market, whatever that’s supposed to mean.”

“You went shopping with Joy and you didn’t invite me?” Penelope asked in an affronted tone.

“I wasn’t even thinking about getting a baby rocker,” Emily said.

“You’re insane,” JJ chuckled. “I firmly believe that baby rockers, slings, and pacifiers should be at the top of the list for every new mother.”

“Yeah, I’m not really sold on the baby sling thing,” Emily winced, placing a hand on her stomach. “What if she slips and falls out of it?”

“I’ll show you how to wrap one so she doesn’t slip out,” JJ said.

They went back to work after that, with Dave slipping out of the unboxing tasks and heading to the kitchen to start working on lunch. Soon enough, the U-Haul truck arrived and they unloaded the rest of the boxes. . By eleven, Spencer left, saying he was going to visit his mother, so there were only six of them at the dining table at lunchtime.

“Has anyone heard from Matt yet? He still hasn’t called about how Kristy’s last appointment went,” Tara said.

“He called me earlier when we were still in the condo,” Andrew said. “Kristy and the baby are okay, and he said Kristy is about to pop anytime so they’re rushing to prep the nursery and the baby bag.”

“Oh right, Matt told me he sold the twins’ crib two years ago and he bought a new one online,” JJ said. “I can’t wait to see how that’s going to turn out.”

“Speaking of cribs,” Andrew said and placed a hand on Emily’s thigh. “Kristy asked if you and I could go over there tomorrow to help them finish up at the nursery.”

“Of course,” Emily nodded.

“Count me in, too,” Dave said. “I still have to give him the baby rocker anyway.”

“Ooh, someone’s vying for godfather,” JJ sang.

“Hey now, Penelope’s not the only one who can spoil the BAU kids,” Dave defended himself.  “And I’m an equal opportunity giver when it comes to them.”

“Are you going to let my daughter call you Uncle Dave the way Jack, Henry, and Michael do?” Emily asked.

“She can call me whatever she wants.”

“That’s brave,” Andrew smirked. “What do you think, Em? Is ‘Lothario’ an okay name?”

“Without a doubt. And she’s moving, so she thinks it’s cool too.”

“I call dibs on teaching Emily’s kid to call Dave ‘Lothario,’” Tara offered, raising her palm in the air.

“Ugh you beat me by a second.”

“Sorry, JJ. You snooze, you lose.”

“Fine,” JJ rolled her eyes playfully. “I’ll teach her to call him ‘Casanova.’”

“On second thought, Uncle Dave sounds like the best option,” Dave interjected, giving each one of them a half-hearted glare.

After they finished eating, they continued with the work. Andrew made Emily take frequent breaks, and much to Emily’s annoyance, the rest of them ganged up on her and kept her from working too hard. Every time she bent down to pick up a box, someone would suddenly appear next to her to pluck it out of her arms and give her a less stressful task. Emily wanted to yell at them, but eventually accepted the role of organizing the silverware in the kitchen. At least she could sit for that.

Come three in the afternoon, most of the rooms in the house were finished save for the master bedroom and the ensuite bathroom, and the nursery, which Andrew and Emily assured they could do on their own. Penelope wanted to get started on the nursery, but Emily stood her ground and explained that she wanted to wait for the closet and the baby crib to arrive before she began decorating the nursery.

She did, however, promise that she would invite the team over once more to help. It seemed to satisfy them, and she was glad. They hung out at the backyard for a few more minutes before Dave excused himself and took off. Soon, JJ said she had to go to the supermarket to pick up a few groceries, and Luke offered to drive Penelope home.

Emily and Andrew cleaned up and did a little work, but by eight, he suggested they head to bed, explaining that they needed the energy to help Kristy and Matt tomorrow. Surprisingly enough, she didn’t put up a fight. For a minute, Andrew worried and thought maybe moving while Emily was five and a half months pregnant was not the wisest decision. Those worries immediately ceased when Emily straddled his lap and placed soft kisses against his neck. They didn’t even bother with heading to their bedroom — climbing stairs seemed like too much of a task for the both of them — or taking off their shirts, the sound of their moans and grunts filling up the room as they reached the edge.

After a quick shower, they headed to bed and slept peacefully in each other’s arms.

The next day, they arrived at the Simmons residence with arms laden of frozen yogurts from the store they drove by earlier. Andrew wasn’t fond of yogurt and thought it was just fermented expired milk, but Emily was practically drooling at the sight, and before he knew it, he was heading back to the car with a bag of frozen yogurt for her.

“Hi! You guys are just in time. Dave just arrived and he’s already with Matt at the nursery, the room between Jake and Dave’s, uh, our Dave’s, room. You can head up, I still have to wait for my mom,” Kristy greeted them. They didn’t even get the chance to reply before Kristy walked away, yelling for Jake to hurry up because ‘Grandma’s on her way.’

Andrew and Emily reached the room just in time for Emily to hear Dave ask, “Where’s Emily?”

“We’re here!” she said, grinning at the two men. “What can we do to…help?” She couldn’t help but gawk at the sight of the unfinished crib in front of her.

“Wow,” Andrew whispered beside her.

“That’s what I said when we unboxed it, but in a more aggressive tone.” Emily glanced behind her and smirked when Kristy rolled her eyes. She gladly accepted the glass of water Kristy handed her. “My mom picked up the kids, so my hands are free.”

“Oh no, you are off-duty,” Emily said.

“Just Kristy?” Dave asked, giving her an incredulous.

“Hey! I’m twenty six weeks along, I can still help.”

“Good luck trying to convince your baby daddy otherwise,” Kristy giggled, pointing behind her.

Emily rolled her eyes and turned, meeting Andrew’s stare and matching it with a glare of her own. “No.”

“Emily.”

“Do you want me to call Dr. Nichols to give me the all-clear to help? Because I’m sure she will.”

“Babe, this isn’t even about you being pregnant. It’s more of I’m scared you’ll pound the nail into your hand instead of the wood.”

An image of Andrew pounding a nail against, well, anything, somehow turned Emily on. “I’ll pound you against the wall.”

“Okay, lovebirds,” Dave cut them off.

“Rude,” Kristy narrowed her eyes at him.

“Forgive me for not wanting to be in the room when those two choose to reenact how Andrew got Emily knocked up,” Dave said in a nonchalant tone.

“I think we need to be at your house for that to happen,” Emily snickered, patting her belly when she felt a series of movements.

“What?” Dave asked in horror.

“Kristy, is there something else you need help with? Something that involves a lot of sitting down,” Andrew asked, ignoring Dave sputtering and Matt laughing behind him.

“Actually, I do. I still have to organize the baby bag in our room, and I can’t bend down much to pick up stuff, so maybe Emily can help me out with that.”

“Of course,” Emily said. “Besides, the farther we are from that crib, the less you might consider getting a divorce.”

“I think you may be right,” Kristy nodded slowly.

Andrew glanced at the crib once more and winced. “Matt, brother, you know I have nothing against you, but why is the crib so —“

“Don’t say it.”

“Red?” Emily asked, finishing Andrew’s sentence. She smirked when Matt sent a glare in her direction. “Genuine question.”

“To be specific, it’s actually called ‘Daddy Issues’ red,” Kristy informed her. “I checked the website.” Emily and Andrew laughed, pursing their lips together when they saw Matt pouting.

“Please, make them stop,” he pleaded to Dave.

“Children,” Dave chastised.

“Alright, alright, we’re stopping,” Emily laughed.

She and Kristy left the men to start on the crib and headed towards the master bedroom. The bed was filled with baby clothes, blankets, linens, different brands of kale chips and cereal bars, and a bunch of baby stuff Emily is still trying to familiarize herself with.

They finished the baby bag an hour and a half later and headed downstairs to make sandwiches for the three men working on the crib in Matt’s old office. Emily was slicing some ham when the doorbell rang, and Kristy excused herself to open it.

A few seconds later, she came back with a confused frown on her face. “Emily, it was for you.”

“For me?” Emily asked. “But I don’t live here.”

“I know that, but it was from the post office, and they specifically asked for you.”

“Okay,” Emily said warily. She hesitated for a moment before discreetly taking the knife she was using and hiding it under her sleeve just in case. Sending a smile in Kristy’s direction, she went to the foyer and took a deep breath before opening the door.

“Are you Emily Prentiss?” the man asked.

“Yes,” she replied, plastering a fake smile on her face.

“You’ve been served.”

“What?” Emily took the file being handed to her but was preoccupied by what the courier said. “Hey! How did you find me here?”

“I’m just the courier, ma’am. I’m only following the directions sent to me,” the man shrugged before walking away completely.

Emily sighed in frustration as he walked away. She opened the file and took out the paper, skimming through it to find the name of the person threatening to sue her. Once her eyes landed on a name, she slammed the door and climbed the stairs, barging into the unfinished nursery. She was fuming and if it was possible, there would’ve been steam escaping her ears. “My ex-neighbor is threatening to sue me.”

“What?” Andrew asked, rushing to her side. Furious, she handed him the file and crossed her arms over her chest. Andrew quickly, but patiently, read the papers to get the necessary information. “Brian Garrity?”

“Do you even know this guy?” Matt asked.

“He’s an old neighbor,” Emily said. “I think he worked at a fish hatchery? I know he has a wife that was way out of his league, and don’t look at me like that, Dave. It’s true. That man used to walk this large cat with a leash-thing. He didn’t even feed that cat meat because he was vegetarian. The other neighbors and I took turns feeding it. He’s a cruel person who doesn’t deserve to have a cat!”

Matt’s mouth was hanging open, too flabbergasted to form words, and Dave was staring at her, an eyebrow raised in question. Andrew saw the expressions on their faced and widened his eyes, warning them not to make fun of everything Emily just said if they wanted to live.

“He named you and the government as co-defendants in a fifth amendment Civil Rights violation?” Andrew asked in a disbelieving tone.

“He said he’s being watched,” Emily explained.

“Oh, boy,” Matt winced.

“What do you want to do about it?” Dave asked.

Emily sighed, shrugging. “I-I want to go home, change my clothes, and call him into Quantico.”

“Are you sure about that? He sounds like a conspiracy theorist. And we need to be careful of how much oxygen we give those types.”

“Give me a little credit here, Dave,” Emily chuckled. “I’ve talked the guns out of psychopaths. I can handle one kook who hired a lawyer.”

“Come on, let’s say goodbye to Kristy,” Andrew said, placing a hand on her lower back and leading her out of the room.

“Andrew, you can stay. You don’t have to come with me.”

“Are you kidding? If it involves you, it involves me.”

With a small smile, Emily shook her head and took his hand in his. “Thank you.”

“I accept payment in kisses and cuddles,” he teased.

They bid their goodbye to Kristy, who told her to be careful, and went home. Emily spent the entire drive fiddling with her fingers, a nervous habit she had overcome but had managed to return full-time during her pregnancy. She hated how the prenatal vitamins were supposed to yield healthy nails but here she was, biting and chipping them off.

When they got home, she dressed while simultaneously talking to Brian on the phone. She nearly lost balance and fell over when putting on her shoes, but thankfully, Andrew was quick to catch her, even making a joke about always catching her every time she fell. Emily responded by rolling her eyes and promising a thank you to all the times he caught her after Brian was dealt with.

The moment they arrived at the sixth floor of the Hoover building, Emily paced to the bullpen and was shocked to see the number of people working.

“Boss woman!” Emily turned around and saw Penelope rushing towards her, bag slung over her elbow.

“Hi,” she greeted and then waved her hand towards the bullpen. “What’s going on here? Why is everyone working on a Saturday?”

Penelope gave her a confused look. “Oh. Stalking case. I texted you twenty-eight minutes ago. Alvez and I are going to the victim’s apartment?”

“Oh. Right. You did. I’m sorry, I’m just, uh, a little distracted,” Emily mumbled.

“Is it because of that guy in your office?” Penelope asked.

“He’s already here?” Emily asked, eyes widening in shock. She turned her head in the direction of her office and saw a man pacing, while an agent, who Emily identified to be Agent Foreman, stood guard by the door. The woman turned her head and met Emily’s eyes, proceeding to give her a pleading look of wanting to be anywhere else except here. Emily couldn’t help but feel the same.

“He arrived twenty minutes ago, looking mighty and demanding to see you,” Penelope said. “I think you owe Agent Foreman a drink or two.”

“What is that thing he brought with him?” Emily asked.

“That, my lovely, is what your guest called a ‘crime board,’” Penelope quoted the word, biting her bottom lip for a second to stop herself from laughing at Emily’s situation, “complete with pins and strings to connect the details. All of them point to a photo of you in the center.”

“Ugh,” Emily groaned.

“Oh, hey! Andrew’s here too!” Penelope exclaimed as he moved towards Emily’s side.

“Hey, Garcia,” he smiled. “How’s the case going?”

“We have the ex-boyfriend in the interrogation room, and Tara and JJ are going to tag-team him.”

“I pity his poor soul,” Andrew winced. He looked at Emily and finally saw the distress on her face. “What’s wrong?”

“Garrity’s here,” Emily mumbled under her breath.

“Already?” he shockingly asked and glanced at Emily’s office. “Why does he have a chalkboard with him?”

“Crime board,” Penelope and Emily corrected. The blonde’s voice sounded amused while the brunette didn’t bother to hide how appalled she was by the entire situation.

“Wow,” Andrew said and turned to Emily, placing an arm over her shoulders. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

“I don’t have a choice, Andrew,” she reasoned. “He’s threatening to sue me.”

Andrew nodded in understanding. “Do you want me to be there with you?”

Emily gave him a small smile as she shook her head. “I can handle it. I’ll call for backup when I need it, but I really doubt I would require one.”

“If you insist,” he conceded. Andrew badly wanted to give her an encouraging hug, but they were at work, and he knew Emily wasn’t comfortable with public displays of affection. He resorted to placing a kiss on her belly, warning their baby girl to behave while mommy dealt with a bad guy, and squeezing Emily’s hand.

“She’s going to be fine,” Penelope assured him. The two of them stood shoulder to shoulder, watching Emily climb the stairs to her office. Andrew gave Agent Foreman an apologetic smile, and sighed when Emily closed the door behind her. He had a feeling this was not going to be as easy Emily claimed it to be.

“I know,” he said. “I still worry.”

“Well, considering that she’s the love of your life and she’s carrying your little girl, I would be surprised if you weren’t,” Penelope nudged him. “Come on, baby daddy. You can help us with the case instead. Alvez and I are going to Elizabeth’s apartment, so I need you to read through some of the messages sent to her, see if there’s anything that might lead us to the stalker.”

“Lead the way.”

For two hours, Andrew sat in front of a laptop in the conference room, reading every single threat sent to Elizabeth for the past six months. He was absolutely enraged that someone could do this to an innocent person. That involuntary celibates, or 'incels', as Penelope referred to them, could easily and wholeheartedly slut-shame women for not sleeping with them. As the unit chief of the Major Crimes Unit of the FBI, he had seen some nasty things, but never as nasty as what Emily’s unit saw on a daily basis. In fact, this was a whole new level of nasty and evil. This was beyond inhumane, and he knew that this case doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the things the BAU has seen.

Meanwhile, Emily just wanted this meeting to be over, but that didn’t seem to be happening soon. Within minutes of Garrity explaining why he agreed to meet with her, she had already profiled him to be a targeted individual, but he refused to let her have a word in.

“And that doesn’t explain all the traffic cameras pointed at me that the FBI uses to surveil me,” Garrity ranted.

“They are not pointed at you,” she patiently said again. It seemed like a mantra she was repeating for the past hour. They are not pointed at you, the FBI is not watching you, I was not an undercover secret agent sent to watch over you… The words do not seem to reach Garrity’s ears at all.

“And you know where else I found them?” Let me guess, your smart TV? Emily thought bitterly. “In my smart TV.” Emily sighed deeply and took a sip of water. “So any time I’m watching TV, my TV’s watching me? Cui bono, Emily? That’s Latin for ‘who benefits.’”

“Yes, Brian. I know what it means.” Did this man think she was an idiot or something? “And yes, I know there are cameras around you. They are around all of us, but the FBI is not watching you with them.”

“Then why is it that the moment I decided to expose all this, you agree to sit with me?”

“Because,” Emily reached over and took the papers from her purse, showing it to Brian. “You are threatening to sue me.” Her hands were shaking with the frustration bubbling inside her, and she sighed. “Brian, please have a seat. I’m—How have you been? How’s Patricia?”

“Not good. She left me.”

“She did?” Well… “I’m sorry. You two were… such a couple.”

“You’re just saying that to get on my good graces,” he snapped, glaring at her. Emily balled her hands into fists and mentally counted in Arabic to stop herself from punching the guy in the face. Even without anything, men always have the audacity…

“This is an odd question,” she changed the topic, “but have you been feeling a weird, burning sensation? As though you’re being heated from inside your body?”

“Yeah! Like a county a fair dog,” he confirmed. Emily flashed him a fake smile. “Wait. How do you know?”

“It’s called ‘targeted individuals.’ These are men and women who are convinced that they are being watched all the time, and it usually happens after a sudden emotional loss,” Emily patiently explained. “I promise, you aren’t.”

Brian nodded slowly, and they were silent for a few moments which slightly convinced Emily that maybe he understood what she was trying to say. Boy was she wrong. “Here’s a question. Why did you fake your own death?”

Emily blinked. “What?”

“In 2011, ya died,” Brian drawled out, smirking. “And then in 2016, boom, you’re magically back in the FBI. And now, here we are in your fancy chief office, and you’re with child.”

Unconsciously, Emily placed a hand on her belly, removing her hand immediately when she saw Brian’s eyes follow her hand, moving her chair closer to her desk to hide it from his eyes. She did not want his prying eyes on her baby.

“I—um, it’s complicated,” she muttered. What the hell was going on? “I can’t fully explain why I left the FBI. I was undercover, and the details about each one are classified.”

“Emily I’ll make it simple for you. You have two choices: you can tell me the truth now, or in court.”

“Brian, please don’t do this,” she sighed.

“Maybe I wouldn’t if you just told the truth about the FBI watching me.”

Emily opened her mouth, prepared to argue right back, when a knock on her door drew her attention away from Brian.

“Hey,” Tara said, smiling at her. “Sorry to interrupt. Uh, do you have a second?”

“Yeah,” she nodded, eager to get away from the room and put some distance between her and Brian. “If you’ll excuse me.” She stood up from her chair and walked out of the office, placing her head in her hands once she was out of the bastard’s line of sight. She took a deep breath and met Tara’s gaze. “What’s up?”

“Garcia’s in a tailspin trying to find Elizabeth’s stalker. Andrew and Luke are helping her, but she said it’s still like ‘looking for a specific needle in a bucket full of needles,’ whatever that’s supposed to mean,” Tara said. “It looks like you are, too. Are you okay?”

Emily absently nodded, letting out a shaky sigh. “He’s dug in.”

Tara gave her a sympathetic smile. “Well, that’s the problem with targeted individuals. You can’t convince them that their delusion isn’t real, and the only strategy that works is just to indulge them until they’re no longer a threat to themselves or to others and why are you looking at me like that?” Emily was staring at her, eyes slightly narrowed as if in deep contemplation, and a small smirk on her face. “Hello?”

“Did you notice how he checked you out?” Emily asked.

Tara scoffed, rolling her eyes. “Yeah, yeah. It felt like I needed a thick coat or some kind of taser.”

Emily chuckled in agreement. “That’s because you look like his ex-wife who just left him.”

“I look like that man’s ex-wife?” Emily nodded. “Somebody married that man?” Tara asked in disbelief.

“It’s more of the attitude; strong, forthright, convincing—“

“No.”

“Tara, he’s going to sue me, and he keeps looking at my belly and it’s creeping me out,” she begged. Tara glared at her. “Please,” she said, popping out her lower lip.

Tara thought she looked pretty pathetic for a grown woman, but sighed and walked towards Emily’s office. “You owe me a lot of drinks.” In her peripheral vision, she could see Emily clapping in excitement, and allowed herself to smile a little before putting on her poker face when she sat Brian’s gaze.

This was not going to be fun, but for Emily, she was going to do it.

Emily, satisfied that she wasn’t needed anymore, headed to Penelope’s office to see what she could do to help find Elizabeth’s stalker. She was both surprised and relieved to see Andrew there, who smiled and held his arms open for her. She stepped into his hug and buried her face in his shoulder, letting out a shaky breath.

“How did it go?” he asked.

“He asked me why I faked my death,” she replied, her voice muffled by his chest.

Andrew winced and pulled her closer to him. Emily told him of the Doyle case on her ‘death anniversary’, and although she was long over it, he knew she was still being haunted by nightmares. Her fake death was something he never brings up in any type of conversation with her, not unless she was the one who brought it up.

“Do you want to talk about it?” he asked. “After the case, I mean.”

“After dinner,” she nodded. He agreed, placing a kiss on the top of her head. Emily pulled away from him and gave him a small smile, before she moved closer towards Penelope and placed a hand on her shoulder. The sudden action caused the technical analyst to jump and throw the stress toy she was squeezing at whoever it was, in this case, Emily.

“Don’t do that,” Penelope exclaimed, placing a hand over her chest. Behind them, Andrew chuckled but was immediately silenced by the glares sent in his direction.

Emily apologized. “Is there something I can do to help?”

“Yes, Andrew and I have been listening to some of the recordings, but before that,” Penelope trailed off, reaching under her desk and pulling out a small box and a shopping bag, and handed it to Emily. “That is for you, and your mini-me.”

“Has it been a week since your last present?” Emily narrowed her eyes in a teasing manner.

“Yes it has,” Penelope responded quickly, making both Emily and Andrew doubt that a week has passed, “the box has a mini red velvet cake.”

“Ooh, cake!” Emily said excitingly and took a seat next to Penelope. She opened the box, and using the fork already in it, treated herself with the delicacy. “Penelope Grace Garcia, you are the goddess of all divine beings.”

“That’s what I like to hear. Now, take these earphones, and help me find something to pin this S.O.B. down.”

Although she was still eating, Emily paid attention to the recordings. Occasionally, she gave Andrew a forkful, but most of the time, they spent it trying to listening to and narrowing down hundreds of recordings that could them catch the unsub. Penelope could admit that the extra pairs of ears actually helped.

They caught their guy two hours later, a man living a floor down from Elizabeth and apparently made the moves on her ex-boyfriend. While JJ was gone to make the arrest, Emily spotted Tara and Agent Foreman leading Brian Garrity towards the elevator, bidding him goodbye. A part of Emily felt as if this wouldn’t be the last time she saw him, but before her thoughts dwelled on the possibility of facing Brian Garrity once again, her phone rang.

Dave was calling. Kristy was in labor.

Penelope called Spencer while they all packed up and waited for JJ to return. Emily made sure to brief Agents Anderson and Foreman on what to question the unsub, wanting the proper procedure to be followed. Both agents assured her they would handle it well.

They made it to the hospital in no time, and spotted Dave in the waiting area for the family. JJ joked that this wouldn’t be the last time they would sit here waiting for someone to finish pushing a live human out of them, sending Emily into a brief panic about labor. The rest of the time waiting was spent with Emily asking JJ to describe the pain level of giving birth; in a low volume, of course, considering how the rest of them looked queasy afterwards.

Spencer made it two hours later, wearing a huge sweater that looked like the ones they sell at a tourist hotspot.

“Thinking of leaving the BAU to be part of America’s tourism department?” Emily asked in a laughing tone. “Just ask. I’ll write a colorful letter of recommendation.”

“M-my clothes got wet,” Spencer said, but his rising voice intonation at the end made it sound like he was asking a question.

“Of course they did.”

Another hour passed before Matt came out of the delivery area, huge smile lighting up his face. “It’s a girl!”

The team rose as one and went to congratulate him.

“What’s her name?”

“Daphne Rose Simmons,” Matt said. "We'll call her Rose."

“Aw, a perfect name for your perfect little girl,” Luke said.

“And you can say that you chose a red crib specifically for that name,” Andrew joked.

“You know what, Mendoza? That doesn’t even bother me right now, and I cannot wait to see you when Emily gives birth.”

“Oh, that’ll be a sight for sore eyes.”

“Don’t talk about giving birth. It makes me feel nauseated after hearing what JJ said."

"Ew."

"And that is why I will not be having children."

“When can we meet her?” Emily asked, changing the topic.

“Right now,” Matt said and led them towards Kristy’s room.

Rose was a perfect little gem. She had Kristy’s nose and hair color, and Matt’s ears and eye-shape. Spencer gave a little fun fact about newborns that the parents paid serious attention to, and Daphne was passed around gently.

“Hello, Rose,” Emily cooed once the baby was placed in her arms. Memories of holding a newborn Henry and few months old Michael and Hank came to her mind, and she couldn’t help but smile softly at the baby staring at her. “Welcome to the world. I hope you had a fun time in there, but the real fun is about to begin. I can’t wait for you to meet your friend, and I bet she can’t wait to meet you, too.”

Emily didn’t notice Andrew’s loving gaze at her as she stared at the baby’s cherubic face until she looked up to hand her over. For a moment, the same thoughts passed through their minds, thoughts of excitement about meeting their own little girl. There was a tiny bit of fear nervousness in there as well but despite that, they shared a smile, knowing that they would make it through thick and thin as long they did it together.

Andrew shifted once Daphne was in his arms. Although he could still remember holding Julia as a newborn, the feeling of a light, tiny human being in his arms was always new and exhilarating. Like Andrew had loving stared at him while holding Daphne, Emily kept her eyes on his face, feeling her heart melt at the warm smile on his face. Little Daphne, barely two hours old, already had Andrew wrapped around her tiny fingers, and Emily was almost certain that their little girl, their butterball, would have him weak on his knees the moment he meets her.

The entire room was silent, all occupants content in watching the soon-to-be parents hold the newborn. The BAU team, especially, was amazed at the couple’s growth within a year of being together. If someone told them that their friend and unit chief would be enamored with an agent for the Major Crimes Unit, they would’ve laughed and thought they were too different to be compatible. Time proved them to be wrong.

When it came to those two, there was no ‘other half’, but rather two wholes making each other’s difficulties bearable. They taught each other how to love, made one another strong and brave adults out of fragile, half-hearted children. When it came to those two, it was a balance of character, an equality of wills and souls, because he could be a pain in the ass if warranted, and so could she. When it came to those two, it wasn’t tolerance or compromise. When it came to Emily and Andrew, it was love.

A year had come and gone, and they witnessed this love bloom from a hesitant, unfamiliar spark to a lifelong, unconditional, and all-encompassing love. This was a love meant to leave a legacy, one they were all sure would have a combined calm and chaotic temper but a heart bigger than her body, and one they were all eager to meet a few more months from now.