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In an Instant

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Emily had never envisioned herself still being at the BAU. Every time she seems to take a break, it calls her back. Like an old friend. If you consider sadistic serial killers friends, that is.

She doesn’t travel with the team very much, instead staying back to work the case remotely. She misses it sometimes, the strange hours, the stuffy motels, the terrible food. But, this allows her much more time with her family, and that’s more important to her.

This case, though, it’s all hands on deck. They need everybody, it’s a big one. Missing college kids near Baltimore.

Now that Keely is in college and Hazel is almost ten, Emily worries constantly about their safety. It seems that every victim reminds her of her girls. But, she reminds herself, that’s why she does this. For them.

The team works quickly getting there, briefing on the jet and collaborating with the local cops as soon as they land. It had been a super quick flight, they were hardly in the air an hour, but it was much quicker than driving. They’re trying to get ahead of it before the media. It’s a long day, and a sleepless night for the team as they try to find the missing young women.

They’re so busy for the next couple of days, Emily barely looks at her phone.

Needless to say, when they break for lunch the third day of the case and Emily checks her phone and sees five missed calls from Andrew, her heart drops. She feels tears immediately well up in her eyes, she has a horrible feeling in her gut that something is wrong. She blinks the tears away.

She holds it together long enough to excuse herself. With shaky hands, she calls Andrew and tries to stay calm until she knows what’s going on.

“Hey,” she hears him say softly.

“What’s going on?” She asks.

“Em,” he says. She can tell by his tone it’s bad.

“Andrew,” she whispers.

“It’s Hazel.” He says.

Emily feels all the air leave her lungs. “Andrew — what’s wrong with my baby?”

“It’s her appendix. It ruptured. We had to rush here... she’s having emergency surgery.” Andrew says.

Emily closes her eyes, leaning back against the wall as she feels her knees start to go weak.

“I’m on my way.” Emily says weakly, forcing herself to start down the hall where she plans to gather her things and figure out the quickest way home.

“She’s gonna be fine, we got here just in time.” Andrew assures her.

“That doesn’t make me feel any better.” Emily says. She enters the stuffy conference room they’d been eating lunch in and starts to grab all her things, tossing her barely eaten food in the trash. “I’ll call you back in a sec,” Emily says, hanging up the phone and shoving it in her back pocket.

“Emily?” JJ asks, brow raised. “What’s going on?”

Emily takes a sharp breath, not trusting herself to speak without breaking down. She can’t do that, not yet.

“It’s…it’s Hazel. Appendicitis.” She says quickly, not wanting to divulge any other details. “I — I have to go.” She glances over to the board in the corner of the room, littered now with photos and notes, their roadmap to finding this killer.

Sensing what she’s thinking, JJ says: “Go. We’ve got this. It’s okay.”

Emily nods. “You’ll… you’ll lead the team while I’m gone?” Her voice is so uncharacteristically Emily, soft and timid where she’s usually strong and confident.

JJ nods. “Of course.” The rest of the team encourages her to go, offering well wishes and promising her that they’ll be okay. Her baby needs her and she has every right to go be with her.

Emily nods and exist the room, slinging her bag over her shoulder and pulling out her phone.

The case had only been an hour and a half away, and she knew renting a car and driving was going to be her quickest route home. She calls for an Uber to take her to the nearest car rental place, and then calls the car rental place and makes sure there’s car waiting for her once she gets there. She hadn’t wanted to pull the “I’m an FBI agent” card, but otherwise she would have to wait to rent the car, and she just didn’t have the time.

Once she’s in the Uber, she calls Andrew again. He answers on the first ring.

“Hey,” He says, he sounds calmer.

“What’s going on?” Emily asks.

“She’s in surgery right now. I don’t really know much else yet. We know her appendix definitely ruptured, but she said she won’t know more until she gets in there to see how much the infection spread.” Andrew explains.

Emily swallows a lump in her throat at the thought of some stranger cutting into her baby. Her sweet, sweet baby girl who was growing up way too fast.

“I’m renting a car now, I’m on my way.” She promises. “Have you told Keely?”

“Not yet. I didn’t want to worry her until we knew more. You know her, she’d fly right down. And I know she’s got exams soon.” Andrew says.

Emily nod, biting her lip anxiously.

“Emily,” Andrew says, soft but firm.

“Hmm?” She answers.

“Don’t blame yourself.” He says seriously.

Emily opens her mouth to argue back, but closes it quickly. Of course she’s blaming herself. She feels terrible. Ever since she became a mother, she’s made it her top priority to be there for her children. She knows a deep part of herself had never settled down earlier because she so feared becoming like her own mother. Her work was important, and she loved what she did. Knowing that she was helping make the world a little safer meant everything, and she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to stop. She knows the job, she knows there’s not an off switch. It’s all consuming, practically entwining with one’s DNA. She had always been so afraid that she would become so attached to the job that she would miss out on her children’s lives.

As terrified as she had been of that, she found it surprisingly easy to scale back at work. Much easier than she had thought it would be. She never misses anything important to the girls. There have only been a few things that Emily has missed out on, and all of them were inevitable and planned. This, though, there was no way to know it would happen, and somehow that makes Emily feel even worse.

Instead, she sighs. “I’ll call you again when I’m in the car.” She says simply.

“Okay, love you.” Andrew says. He doesn’t press her, knowing she needs to process.

+ +

As soon as Emily gets to her rental car, she plugs in the address to the hospital that Hazel is at and starts to drive. She turns the radio on, but she doesn’t even hear the song, she just drives and anxiously bites her fingernails on one hand. She calls Andrew again. He doesn’t have any news for her, and she doesn’t really feel like talking, but neither of them hang up. They just sit together on the phone, as together as they can be for the moment.

Thankfully, there’s not much traffic so she’s able to get there a little quicker than she expected. She parks and rushes inside, fighting the desire to flash her badge. Luckily, she doesn’t need to. A kind receptionist points her in the right direction and Emily speed walks down the hallway, where she’s met with Andrew, standing there waiting.

She practically runs into his arms and lets him wrap her up in a comforting hug. She feels the tension in her shoulders relax a little as she lets herself melt into his embrace. He gently rubs her back and pulls away to pull her over to a chair. They sit, and immediately she takes his hand in hers.

They sit together for a moment, but before either of them can speak, a young woman calls Hazel’s name.

“That’s us!” Emily says, as she and Andrew stand up.

The woman smiles and approaches them. She introduces herself but neither of them hear the name.

“Hazel’s out of surgery. She’s not awake yet, they’ve got her in recovery. Once she’s all settled in her room, you guys can see her.” She tells them.

“How is she?” Emily asks.

“She’s a rockstar.” The woman smiles assuringly. “She did great. Such a brave girl you guys have. Everything went well, and luckily the infection hadn’t spread too much by the time she got here. She will definitely need to be here for a few days, but I definitely expect a full recovery.”

Emily lets out a breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding, feels Andrew put an arm around her and squeeze her shoulder gently.

“That’s great.” Andrew smiles softly. “We can see her soon?”

“Absolutely, we’ll come back and get you in just a few minutes.”

As the young doctor turns to walk away, Emily thanks her.

The wait is agonizing, and not very long at all but to the two of them it feels like an eternity. Finally, they are led to Hazel’s room. They’re told she’s been awake, she’s okay, but she’s still groggy and in and out of sleep, so to not be alarmed.

Instantly, her parents sit on either side of her.

Emily just stares at her sleeping daughter, her hair sticking out in all different directions, much paler than normal. She looks even smaller in the hospital bed.

Emily brushes a stray curl out of Hazel’s face and tucks it behind her ear.

“Oh, my sweet girl.” Emily says softly.

Hazel stirs at Emily’s touch, and her eyes flutter open. She squints at the harsh light.

“Mommy?” Hazel says groggily.

“Yes, honey. It’s me.” Emily says, fighting the desire to start crying and smiling instead.

“You’re here.” Hazel says, surprised.

“Of course I’m here. I came as soon as your dad called me.” Emily tells her.

“How are you feeling?” Andrew asks.

Hazel furrows her brow, looking so much like Emily.

“Sleepy.” Hazel decides.

Andrew smiles softly. “Go back to sleep.” He tells her.

Hazel’s eyes close again, and they sit quietly until they’re sure she’s asleep.

They sit by her bed until Andrew steps out to update Keely and grab dinner for himself and Emily. While he’s gone, Hazel wakes up again, this time she’s a little more awake.

“Hi,” Emily smiles.

“Hi,” Hazel says.

“How are you feeling?” Emily wonders.

Hazel shrugs.

“Yeah, that makes sense.” Emily says. She moves from the chair she had been sitting in to sit on the bed next to Hazel, wanting to just be close.

Hazel snuggles in close to her mother.

“I missed you.” Hazel says.
Emily gently puts her arm around Hazel. “I missed you more.”

“I’m sorry.” The little girl says softly.

Emily furrows her brow and looks down, seeing Hazel looking up at her with teary eyes.

“What on earth are you sorry for?” Emily asks.

“Because …” Hazel takes a deep breath. “Because I didn’t say anything to dad because I wanted you to be here.” She admits.

Emily closes her eyes and squeezes them tight, forcing the tears she feels welling not to fall.

“Honey,” Emily says quietly, pulling the little girl gently into her side, careful to avoid where she’s all stitched up. “I am here.” She reminds the girl.

“I know…but not at first. When they said I needed surgery I got so scared I would never see you again. It happened so fast.” Hazel says, finally allowing herself to cry.

Emily lets her daughter cry before she responds. It’s hard to see, but Emily is so grateful that Hazel feels that she can be so open with her emotions with her, something that Emily had never been encouraged to do as a child.

After a few minutes, Hazel calms down, but continues to hide her face in Emily’s shoulder.

“I was really scared when your dad called me.” Emily said.

“Really?” Hazel asks, poking her head up slightly.

“Really.” Emily confirms. “I knew you’d be okay, but knowing you were here and I wasn’t was the worst feeling in the world. And I know dad took really good care of you, but I wish with all my heart I had been here with you, too.” Emily tells her honestly.

Hazel sniffles, leaning into Emily again. “I’m so glad you’re here now.”

Emily rubs Hazel’s back gently. “I’m glad too.”

They sit like that together until Hazel falls asleep just as Andrew returns with dinner. Hazel won’t be able to eat much solid food for a day or so.

Emily expertly maneuvers herself off the bed, settling Hazel without disturbing her. It’s a superpower she didn’t know she had until she became a mother.

She and Andrew have dinner together, and stay the night at Hazel’s bedside. Hazel perks up more each day, and heals perfectly. She is discharged a few days later and the family returns home to get back into their regular routine.