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07 January 2013 @ 06:57 pm
Fic Post: On the Center Line  
I started this AU a while back and as much as I can hear the characters in my head, it just cant seem to come together on paper past a certain point. I dont know if it ever will. But what I do know is that I'm proud of this universe I've created in my head and the stories these characters want to tell. So I'm going to post the beginning of it, which might be all there ever is. Still, telling some of their story is better for me than telling none at all.

Title: On the Center Line
Author: Montiese
Category: AU/Drama/Friendship/Humor/Romance
Characters: Emily Prentiss, Erin Strauss, David Rossi, Jason Gideon, Ensemble
Pairings: Rossi/Strauss, Gideon/Prentiss
Rating: TEEN
Summary: Erin Strauss happened to be smarter than some of the adults she’d encountered in her travels. Not only was she smarter, she might even give a damn.


Emily let out the breath she was holding as she gingerly placed her right foot onto the carpet. Thunder clapped across the sky and she almost screamed but held it back. She couldn’t do the same when the lamp in the room suddenly came on.

“Where the hell have you been?”

Erin’s calm demeanor didn’t express the anger and worry she was feeling. She wasn’t going to give up on this girl…she would prove them all wrong. Emily Prentiss was a lost cause they said. She was smart, bordering on brilliant maybe, but didn’t give a damn. If the system could hold onto her long enough she would make it to 18.

Then she would slip away into the world and surely succumb to drugs, sex, or violence. She had temper and attitude to spare. She never followed rules and just didn’t give a damn. At 16 she’d been kicked out of more group homes and foster placement than Led Zeppelin had been hotels. This was the last stop; if not this place there was nowhere else.

There was the street. Erin couldn’t even say she was surprised to do the midnight bed check and find Emily gone. She woke up Elle, just glad she was in bed, and sent her to sleep in JJ’s room. And then she waited. It was 2:47 in the morning and Emily Prentiss was climbing through a third floor window. With the pouring rain Erin just counted her lucky that she made it. Finding her crumpled body in the shrubs tomorrow morning would be no way for anyone to start their weekend.

“I guess you're not going to believe I was taking a walk.” Emily said, turning around.

“If this doesn’t work they're gonna lock you up. You know that.”

“They can't lock me up…I have rights.”

“No you don’t.” Erin shook her head. “You're a minor.”

“Fine, I’ll run away to Canada. I'm sure I have rights there.”

“Where the hell were you?” Erin asked again.

“Out.”

“Clearly. Emily, you can't keep doing this. You have a lot of freedom here, more than any other group home in the area. Curfew is something we take seriously.”

“I'm not hurting anyone. I wasn’t doing anything wrong.”

“You broke curfew and that is something wrong. If you were caught by the police past curfew you would end up in the system. You would've been in some juvenile facility all weekend. I would've reported you missing but no one would give a damn since you're a chronic runaway.”

“I am not.” Emily felt the need to defend herself.

OK, she ran away a lot. But that was because she wasn’t wanted. Or maybe she was wanted a little too much. Some of the places they put kids weren't safe. Sometimes the streets were better. Sometimes Emily would rather do favors for someone who might not be the most desirable sort to have a warm place to stay for a few days than have to keep both eyes open in a “home”.

She could admit to herself that this place was better than most. Emily had been there a month and there hadn't been any major incidents. Still, she had a life outside and wanted to live it. Erin Strauss happened to be smarter than some of the adults she’d encountered in her travels. Not only was she smarter, she might even give a damn. It was going to take more than the pillows stuffed under the sheets to fool this one.

“I really was taking a walk.” She said.

“In the middle of the night?” Erin raised an eyebrow.

“I like the quiet.”

“So you went for a walk for nearly three hours in the pouring rain?”

“It wasn’t pouring when I left.” Emily replied.

Erin sighed, getting up from the bunk where she sat and waited. There was no talking to Emily; it was her way and that was it. She would get caught breaking three rules, booted out, and that was the end of the story. Years from now staff might have memories of her and some of the funnier things she did.

But she didn’t seem to want to save herself. There were kids there and some of them had goals. Even if that goal was just to make it; Erin had to look after them. If the darkness wanted to call to Emily Prentiss, she couldn’t follow her. She’d already seen enough of it.

“You should get out of those wet clothes before you catch your death and go to bed.”

“That’s it?” Emily asked, stopping Erin in her tracks as she walked to the door.

“That’s it. You need to be up to help with kitchen duty by 7:30. I’ll be checking on that myself before I go home. If you're not, I'm writing the letter myself to have you placed somewhere else.”

“You're gonna kick me out?”

“You don't want to be here anyway.” Erin looked at her. “I would think it was doing you a favor.”

“Fuck your favors.” She rolled her eyes.

“Strike one, Emily.” The older woman held up a finger.

“What have I got to lose?” the teenager shrugged. “You're gonna kick me out anyway. It’s irresponsible to make me work the kitchen on like 4 hours of sleep. I could report you.”

“Goodnight.”

Erin didn’t say another word; she just walked out of the room. The hallway was dimly lit and quiet. That was expected at this hour. She needed to do one more check of the twenty rooms. There were 10 on this floor and ten downstairs.

Then she’d send security to do a ground sweep and put in a request to have the trellis removed from outside of Emily and Elle’s window. It was easier than reassigning her room and shaking up the lives of other girls who were adjusting much better. Not that it would matter much if she wasn’t in that kitchen when Erin told her to be. She had to put her foot down.

This was it…the games were over. She couldn’t be walked all over by a girl that was barely 16. Shaking off the feeling that she was letting Emily down just as everyone else had, Erin went into the room next door. Two beds and two sleeping girls…everything was as it should be.

***


“You look like warmed over dog shit.” Coop said, handing her the lighter.

“Are you serious?” Emily lit her cigarette and handed it back.

“What, you didn’t know?”

“Yeah dodo, I knew. I meant are you seriously going to bring that up right now.”

“Sorry.” Coop gave a little smile as he looked at his shoes.

“I’d still be asleep if Strauss hadn't busted me last night. She told me if I wasn’t here by 7:30 slinging hash then she was booting me out.”

“What were you doing when you got busted?” Coop asked.

“She was climbing back in the window after some face time with that photographer that’s too old for her who she's fucking.” Elle came out the side door wearing a sly grin.

“Shut up, Elle. You don’t know anything about it.” Emily almost blew smoke in her face but thought twice. Everyone knew Elle Greenaway was cool as shit but had a hair trigger. There was no way that Emily planned to add fist fighting to the list of things she was pulled into this morning.

“I know you’ve been here for a month and you’ve got like two strikes.” Elle said. “Strauss isn’t to be messed with…she will boot your ass out.”

“You think I don’t know that?” Emily sighed as she smoked her cigarette. “I know it.”

“We all have ways of getting around the rules.” Coop said, handing off his smoke to Elle. “We tend to do it inside the walls to save ourselves the trouble.”

“Anything you want to admit to right now, Mr. Cooper?”

All the teenagers stood at attention when they heard the voice. Coop threw out the cigarette that Elle gave to him. Emily wasn’t wasting hers. They were a precious commodity in life.

“No ma'am.” He shook his head.

“I'm sure the both of you have things you need to be working on.” Erin said. “Have a nice weekend.”

“Yes ma'am.” Elle and Coop went back into the building as fast as their feet could take them. Coop looked back at Emily; she looked like she could handle herself.

“When I gave you kitchen duty this morning Emily that didn’t mean standing outside smoking and lollygagging.”

“I'm just taking a break. Federal law allows workers 15 minutes for every four hours worked.”

“You’ve barely been here an hour.” Erin looked at her watch. “I bet if you used your powers for good more often then you could actually sleep in on the weekends.”

“I'm McMurphy.” Emily said, taking one last inhale of her cigarette before crushing it under her imitation Doc Martens. “I'm McMurphy, you're Nurse Ratched, and we’re playing the roles just as we’re supposed to.”

“Life isn’t a movie. And if you remember, Ratched made sure that McMurphy was given a frontal lobotomy for his inability to tow the line.”

“Actually she did it because he embarrassed her, and damn near killed her. He tore her clothes and shamed her in front of the same men she shamed everyday. As a result Ratched lost most of her voice, which was the strongest weapon she had. I was talking about the book, though I certainly hope things don’t escalate like that between us.” She smiled. “I thought you'd be off by now.”

“I bet you did. You need to get inside and help with breakfast…now.”

“Have a good weekend ma'am.”

Emily gently brushed past her and went back to the kitchen. Erin took a deep breath, following her. The kitchen was bustling with activity. Erin spoke to people as she walked through, put on a pleasant smile, and was soon out in the main area.

The weekend mornings were usually quiet; today was no different. She walked out of the front door and into the mid-June sunshine. Summer was right around the corner. The weather would fluctuate between heat and humidity and cloudy rain. Erin’s moods would probably fluctuate right along with it.

Things had been harder lately even though she pretended they weren't. Even breathing sometimes seemed like Erin was drowning. Emily Prentiss would probably be the death of her. She wasn’t going to help the teenager win. In the end she’d probably end up losing, destroying herself and maybe even Erin in the process.

“I really appreciate you picking me up.” She climbed into the passenger seat of the Chevy Suburban. After exhaling she leaned to kiss him.

“Do you want some breakfast?” Dave Rossi asked.

“Unless you're going to serve it to me in bed while I sleep I'm going to have to decline. I'm exhausted.”

“Did you have to stay 90 minutes overtime?” he drove down the long driveway and onto the road.

Dave didn’t know if they were going to his place or hers. Usually on weekends that he was in town they liked being together. For the past month or so Erin had been quite distant. Dave didn’t like it but wasn’t sure how to bring it up.

Erin wasn’t fragile, and if she found that he was concerned about that she might roast his balls for lunch to prove otherwise. Still, something was wrong. Dave couldn’t be the man she loved and ignore that. He swore to himself that he would never ignore even the smallest symptom again. Erin’s life depended on it.

“I was compared to Nurse Ratched this morning.”

“Was it done in the right context?” Dave asked. He glanced at Erin as she pulled her hair back into a ponytail. She looked exhausted. He knew how much she loved her job but it took a lot out of her. Dave wasn’t sure how much left she had to give.

“It was done in the context of the Kesey novel.”

“Oh, you’ve got a special kid on your hands.”

“Tell me about it.” Erin smiled but it was tired and sad.

“Are we going to my place or yours?”

“Is that why you're driving like an old man?”

“I resent that…I am an old man.”

“You're my old man.” She said it before she could stop herself. And this time her smile was genuine.

“Damn skippy baby.” Dave smiled too.

“We’re going to your place. I'm off on Monday and switching shifts come Tuesday. I’ll need you to bring me in, if you're in town.”

“No matter where I am, you'll get there. Are you alright?”

“Mmm hmm.”

Erin didn’t think it sounded believable and was sure Dave wasn’t going for it. None of it mattered; this long week was over. Erin wanted to go down face first into the nearest pillow and forget all about it. Doing that with David Rossi would actually make her happy. Happy was quite an interesting concept.

***


“Hey Prentiss, close your mouth. We wouldn’t want anything to fly in.”

Emily turned away from the window and looked at Jill Morris. She was sneering but she was always sneering. She might actually be pretty if her face wasn’t in a perpetual scowl. Lisa Woodbridge was with her, which wasn’t unusual.

“Hey Lisa, you really shouldn’t feed the animals. It encourages them to stick around.”

“Go to hell.” Jill sneered.

“I'm already there; I'm talking to you aren’t I?” Emily walked away. “By the way Jill, envious is a good color on you. No wonder you wear it everyday.”

“Cute Prentiss.”

“That’s what all the boys say.”

Once she was out of the redhead’s sight, Emily practically ran to the kitchen. Sunday was spaghetti night and the scent was everywhere. The teenager inhaled it before approaching Bill Hightower. He ran the kitchen with military precision because once a soldier always a soldier.

On the one hand he could be a total hard ass but Bill was always kind to the kids. Emily sensed he didn’t have an easy time growing up. The military was most likely his escape, like so many inner city teens before him. It seemed to have done the job.

“Bill, can I have a bottle of water?”

“Sure.” he grabbed one out of the fridge. “Catch.”

“You're the best.” Emily smiled as she caught it.

“That’s the rumor.”

She was off and running again, this time out of the side door. Around the corner, on the front lawn of Brooks House, a handful of boys were playing touch football. Jason Gideon was one of them. They were all grunting and sweating, as boys tend to do.

They were also tackling, which they weren't supposed to be. These guys had to get their frustrations out somehow. It was better to attack each other in a friendly game than to hurt someone who didn’t deserve it. After a particularly rough run, Derek Morgan called a time out.

The boys went their separate ways. Jason wiped sweat from his brow. He lifted his Dartmouth College tee shirt over his head, using it as a sweat rag. Smiling, Emily walked over and handed him the water.

“You look like you could use this.” She said.

“Thanks.” Jason smiled.

“What about the rest of us?” George Foyet asked. “Are we supposed to die of thirst?”

“Only if I'm lucky.” Emily replied.

“There's no need to be mean.” Jason said in a lowered voice as he suppressed a smile.

“I can be very good at it.” she told him.

“You can be lucky, if you want.” George grabbed his balls.

“Don’t be vulgar George.” Jason said. “You're done; go back inside.”

“Aww c'mon Gideon, seriously?”

“Seriously. Go back inside now.”

Sighing, George passed off the football and went inside the building. He was glaring at Emily the whole way. Jason watched him go and then turned to look back at Emily.

“As if I would ever go anywhere near his balls,” She rolled her eyes. “That guy has some serious psychopathic tendencies.”

“Is that what you think?”

“C'mon Jason, don’t act like you don’t know. He wears those glasses, looks down at his feet while talking to authority figures, and people think he's quiet and sweet but there's something in his eyes. Actually, there’s nothing in his eyes…they're as cold and dark as Siberia.”

“Hmm.” Jason drank his water.

“And have you ever really looked at him when he looks at a girl?” Emily asked.

“That’s not fair; he's a sixteen year old boy. At that age you're just a ball of hormones and sexual frustration. He shouldn’t be judged for that.”

“Every guy in here has hairy palms, I get that. But George is different. Lets take Derek for example.” Emily’s eyes found the teenage boy boasting about something with the others. He was animated like always.

“What am I taking him as an example of?”

“He's a relatively normal teenage boy. I mean we’re all bad seeds or whatever; we’re all at the end of the line for a reason. But he tends to look at girls the same way a seven year old looks at Chicken McNuggets. They get excited and can't wait to indulge. They’ll do and say whatever they have to get their hands on them. You know?”

“That’s an interesting analogy.” Jason replied.

“George looks at girls like they're science experiments. I don’t mean the kind that grosses you out. I mean the kind he wants to cut open and explore. You mark my words Jason…he gives me the heebie jeebies.

“Someday, like twenty or twenty five years from now we’ll be reading an article about him. They’ll be comparing him to Ted Bundy. People they interview will say he was so kind and quiet and be shocked by the allegations. But the truth is that he's had the compulsion his entire life. He doesn’t…why are you looking at me like that?”

“You're very interesting.”

“What are you doing here anyway?” Emily asked, dropping the subject of George. Not a lot of people saw what she saw. Emily often used that to her advantage. “I'm quite pleased to see you but you don’t usually work on Sundays.”

“You’ve memorized my schedule?” he asked.

“If you answer my question than I’ll answer yours.”

“Hey Gideon!” Donny Sanderson shouted. “Stop trying to get laid and let’s get this game going.”

“You guys go ahead and play.” He said. “And go easy with the tackling.”

The game started up again as Jason smiled at Emily. He put his shirt back on, noticing the disappointment in her big brown eyes. At least he thought it might be disappointment. Jason could read people as well. It wasn’t the first time he noticed Emily Prentiss.

Every time he noticed her Jason thought she might be noticing him too. Until this conversation she’d never said anything more than hello and goodbye to him. As much as he tried to stop himself Jason Gideon had been reading her since the first time he saw her about three weeks ago. There was something about her…something that smacked him right in the gut. He stayed far away but she was upping the ante.

“I have some tests to take tomorrow and things to do for next semester so I figured I could do my hours today.”

“So you're free tomorrow?” she asked.

“My morning is really busy but I should be done by about 1:30 I hope. I have to get up really early though.”

“You and I should have lunch.”

“Oh,” he cleared his throat while pushing one of his raven curls behind his ear. “I think that might be a conflict of interest Emily.”

“Really; how so? Which one are you, my shrink, my priest, or my lawyer?” she smiled.

“I'm none of the above.” Jason replied shaking his head.

“Are you allergic to hamburgers, pizza, or sandwiches?”

“I wasn’t the last time I checked.”

“So you and I should have lunch.” Emily repeated. “You're free on Monday and so am I. It’s meant to be.”

“Is it?”

“I think so. We can meet at the Georgetown Diner around 2:30.”

“I'm too old for you.” it was all Jason had left. He couldn’t think of anything else to say.

“How old are you?”

“I turned 21 on the 14th.”

“You're not too old for me. And even if you were its not as if we’re going to follow up our sandwiches with sex…or a trip to the justice of the peace. I mean, unless...”

“No.” Jason shook his head.

“So…lunch?”

“OK.” Jason couldn’t believe the word when it came out of his mouth.

This had to be against the rules somehow. Jason wasn’t a rule breaker. He also really liked his job and didn’t want to lose it. Emily Prentiss was surely trouble in more ways than one. If he couldn’t turn down lunch what else wouldn’t he be able to turn down? Losing control wasn’t an option.

“That wasn’t so hard, was it?” she felt her face get warm when she smiled.

“I have a feeling it might be the easiest thing about you.”

There was something about this guy but she wasn’t sure what because on paper Jason Gideon was definitely not her type. He had goals and a job and was brilliant. OK, Emily usually liked them brilliant. But the guys she’d dated thus far had fast cars, shitty apartments, and criminal records.

They liked sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Some of them weren't even nice; to her or anyone else. She was in a vicious cycle but found it hard to stop. Bad boys were her thing. Every girl had one.

Still Jason made her feel butterflies in her stomach. It had been a long time since anyone had done that. She was determined to believe it was a good thing. Emily could surely use a good thing.

“I’ll let you find out if you're sweet to me.” Emily leaned to whisper in his ear. Then she put her hand on his shoulder. “Or you can be rough if that’s what you're into.”

She walked off without saying another word. Having the last word was always her favorite thing. As much as she wanted to, it killed her not to, Emily didn’t look back. She didn’t get a chance to see if he was shocked, shy, smug, or something in between. It gave her even more reason to look forward to seeing him outside of prison walls.

***


“You didn’t sleep much.” Dave said, cuddling close to Erin underneath the sheet.

He kissed that special spot on her neck. She didn’t even shiver and that concerned him. Erin always shivered when he kissed her neck. It could have something to do with how tense she was right now. What made someone tense at quarter to six in the morning?

“No, I'm fine.” She whispered.

“I didn’t say you weren't fine; I said you didn’t sleep much. It’s usually the first sign that things aren’t alright.”

“I'm fine Dave.” Erin covered his hand with hers. “But I'm going to be late if I don’t get out of this bed.”

“Is there anything you might want to talk about?” he asked.

Not really.” She shook her head. “It’s going to be a busy next couple of weeks on day shift. The kids are out of school so here comes the quest to keep them busy and out of trouble. That goes double for Emily Prentiss.

“I need her to be very, very busy. One more strike and she's out. I can't change that rule for her no matter how much I want to help her. Everyone there knows she has two strikes. If she’s not at Brooks House I don’t know where she's going.”

“Helping Emily Prentiss won't be worth a damn if you fall apart in the process.” Dave held her close. “I sympathize but you're my priority baby, not her.”

“What?”

“You're my priority. Something is wrong and you can tell me a million times that there isn’t but there is. Don’t be afraid to talk to me.”

“I'm just tired.” Erin turned in his arms and put on a smile. She felt better today than yesterday. When she couldn’t occupy her time then her mind went a little crazy. Work, and all the insanity there, definitely occupied her time.

“I don’t want to push but…”

“Here comes the part where you push.” She caressed his face. She loved his face.

“I'm scared. I'm scared that you're not sharing with me and I’ll come home one day and…” Dave sighed. “I don’t want to find you in the tub or on the floor. It’s not entirely about me. I don’t want to sound like a selfish bastard but I can't lose you.”

“I'm right here.” She kissed him, pressing her forehead on his.

“I love you.”

“I love you too. Wanna fuck?”

Dave laughed. He threw his head back and laughed. Then he moved on top of her. Erin’s body relaxed on the bed. He brushed the blonde hair off her forehead and kissed her.

Dave moaned when she wrapped her legs around him. He touched between her thighs; now she shivered. Erin kissed him deeply, passionately, and ran her hands up his bare back. She needed to relax…let him make love to her. She wanted him, always, and good sex cleared her mind.

Sex with Dave had always been amazing. From the first time, which was the first night they met, the two of them fit together. Erin was spiraling downward then. She was falling fast and Dave tried to catch her.

She slipped right through his fingers, landing hard. Still, he never left her. He stayed through the whole tragic, ugly thing. When Erin opened her eyes Dave was still there.

That’s why Erin didn’t understand why it was so hard to tell him that she felt the darkness approaching again. He already knew, wanted her to share the burden, but she just couldn’t. What if she slipped through his fingers again? What if this time she fell and Erin never got up?

***


“Excuse me Strauss?” Emily knocked on the office door late in the afternoon on Tuesday and poked her head in.

“Dr. Strauss.” Erin said. She looked up from her paperwork and pushed her rectangular glasses up on the bridge of her noise.

“Dr. Strauss, can I come in?”

“Of course.”

Emily walked into the office. It was neat, clean, but not too showy. Erin had degrees on her wall from Barnard, Columbia, and Oxford University. Pictures of kids, present and past, were there as well.

On the credenza behind her was where she kept her few family photos. Emily loved the picture of Erin receiving the DC Woman of the Year award from Hillary Rodham Clinton. It was one of the few times the teenager saw her full bloom smile. She wouldn’t call Erin solemn but she was definitely serious.

“I need to apologize.” Emily flopped into one of the overstuffed chairs across from her desk.

“Don’t flop please.”

“Yes ma'am. Anyway, I'm apologizing. The Nurse Ratched thing was totally out of line. That woman was pure evil. You're nothing like that.

“You're no nonsense and not to be played with but you care about the kids who live here. I know that no one else gives a damn…this is the last stop for so many of us. Ratched didn’t have a single redeeming quality and I would never say that about you. So I'm sorry.”

“Your apology is accepted. I appreciate it.”

“I'm still going to find a name appropriate for your fun thwarting abilities.” Emily said.

“I have little doubt about this.” Erin nodded. “I'm glad you're here Emily because there's something I wanted to tell you. You’re getting a job.”

“I am?”

“Yes. Your school grades were good despite moving three times during the year. But the truth is that you need responsibility and discipline. A summer job will go a long way in doing that. My friend Ursula has a bookstore and she needs someone there for 20-25 hours a week. Congratulations, Emily.”

“Do I get to keep my money?” Emily asked. She wasn’t allergic to work. This was doubly true if she was getting paid for it.

“Of course you do. If you earn it, you keep it. You will have to be interviewed though the job is yours if you pass that test.”

“I think I’ll be OK. When do I go in?”

“Ursula can see you on Thursday. She’s also a full-time professor at American University so she's busy. But I’ll let you know when you're going.”

“Right.” Emily stood up from the chair. “Well thanks Str…Dr. Strauss.”

“You're welcome. Do you need anything else?”

“No ma'am.”

She walked out of the office. A job and some money sounded right up her alley. Even better it meant more freedom. The idea of being locked down all summer long didn’t appeal to Emily in the least. Being broke was even less so.

She would be able to save up and get some awesome clothes for senior year. She’d be able to buy the foreign cloves she liked and give Viper money to get her liquor. She didn’t like owing him…one of these days he was going to call in all the favors. He kept pressuring her to pose for him.

Emily declined. She took some pictures but refused to take all of her clothes off. If she owed him too much that might have to change soon. Money in her pocket would keep control in her hands.

“Hey.” Jason walked by her as Emily came into the day room.

“Wanna have a smoke with me?” she asked.

“That stuff is bad for you health.” He said.

“You're adorable but really are a goodie goodie.”

“I don’t get too many complaints.”

“You're not going to get them from me either.” She took his hand. “C'mon.”

“Emily…”

Jason felt dread in the pit of his stomach, fear that someone there would see them and misconstrue, but he let her drag him out into the garden. Strauss’ office was on the other side of the building so there was no danger of her coming out and complaining. But there was other staff around and the kids had no problem telling on each other even if things weren't true. Jason never wanted anyone to think he was having an inappropriate relationship with an underage girl.

He wasn’t that kind of person and those rumors could follow you everywhere. Those fears weren't going to stop him from liking Emily but they had to be careful. He was glad he was getting to know her better though. Jason knew from experience that having even one person you could open up and be yourself could change your whole life.

Emily smiled at him as she lit her clove. She liked Jason, plain and simple. It was actually one of the most uncomplicated things in her life right now. And considering how complicated it was that was saying something. They had a nice time at lunch on Monday and she wanted to keep having a nice time. It might not turn into the sex fueled late teen romance that Emily thought it could be at one time but it was going to be something. It was going to be something special.

Tell me about your college plans.”

Emily laughed as they walked out of the Georgetown Diner. It was raining so Jason put up his umbrella to cover them. It was small so they had to walk close. He looked at Emily strangely.

“Why are you laughing?” he asked.

“Jason, I've been told that I'm beautiful but what I can use these good looks to pay for college.”

“You're really smart and there are million of scholarships out there. I know in your predicament they don’t always make information easy to access but it’s out there.”

“Predicament?” Emily smirked.

“What? What is so funny?” Jason let his frustration seep through. He didn’t mean to but she could be maddening. It was both attractive and very much not.

“You make it sound as if I'm about to be sent to a home for wayward girls…my predicament.”

“Everything isn’t a joke, Emily.”

“I know, I know.” She put her hand on his arm. “I'm sorry.”

“I don’t know what you’ve been through, I won't pretend to know. But I hope you know that you're a smartass.”

“I am sometimes.”

“Sometimes?” he raised an eyebrow.

“Do you really think I could go off to college and become whatever I want?” Emily asked.

“Are you being a smartass again?”

“Yes and no.”

“I think you can do anything you put your mind to. And I don’t mean that in some cheesy way that people say when they want to appease someone. I think you're one of the smartest people I've met in a long time and I'm surrounded by college students and adults pretty much all day.”

“What if my mind just wants to go to a movie with you? Can I do that?”

“Emily…”

“There was a man once who offered me all I could ever dream if I just went on dates and entertained his friends. I could just ask him for tuition money.” She said.

“That’s prostitution.” Jason said. “You don’t need to be at anyone’s beck and call. It’s not the kind of life you want.”

“Everything is prostitution in one way or another Jason.”

“Don’t you ever let anyone treat you that way.” he stopped walking and looked at her. She was beautiful. He wouldn’t be surprised if some very powerful men paid a lot of money to use her up. Just the thought of it disgusted him. “You're better than that and I think you know it. If you don’t, I'm telling you. Please don’t go down that road.”

Emily had no idea what road she would end up going down. There was a part of her that just wanted to stop. She wanted to wave the white flag of surrender and just stop. Brooks House was a relatively safe place to live especially compared to where she’d been. Her senior year of high school was coming.

Emily wouldn’t even have to work that hard to get good grades. She could focus on a future that included college and then some swanky ass job in the capital where she had to wear a power suit. That sounded so much better than just thinking about the next weekend where she would get drunk and high with whoever was willing to bank roll it. It wasn’t as if Emily got by for free…the price she paid was high.

As a matter of fact she was practically empty now. Maybe it was in her best interest to file bankruptcy and start all over again. Other people had done it so why couldn’t she? She could, if she really wanted to.

“What are you thinking?” Jason asked.

“American University is playing Hannah and her Sisters on Wednesday evening. Every summer they do their Classic Director Series and this month focuses on the films of Woody Allen.”

“I know.” He nodded.

“Its one of my favorite films and I’d love to see it together. I don’t often get to share my love of Woody Allen with anyone, OK I never do. I'm about to tell you the truth Jason.”

“What's the truth?”

“I don’t have any friends.” Emily replied. “Maybe I've never wanted them or maybe I never knew how to make them.” she shrugged. “There are people I get high with or who sneak me into clubs and bars. There are people who will fuck me but I surely wouldn’t call them if I needed bail money or landed in the hospital.

“I think you're a very nice guy; you're a good guy. Look, I totally get that you would never date a girl like me. You can't exactly bring me home to mom or anything. But maybe it would be fun to go to movies or talk over milkshakes.

“I don’t have to perform when I'm with you. Who would've ever thought I’d be so tired at barely 17? Being around you puts a little pep in my step. I know that’s not your responsibility and I'm sorry but maybe it could be fun for you too.”

Jason stopped walking again. It took all he had not to let out the sound of pain stuck in his diaphragm. Hearing what she said, the way she said it, broke his heart. No one should ever be so defeated. That someone so young could give up on life was horrible.

He couldn’t let her do that. Jason had no idea what quicksand he was about to jump into. Knowing that Emily was sinking alone and not helping was inconceivable. He wasn’t that kind of guy. The silly crush he might have on her aside, helping someone in need had always felt like a calling for him.

“I'm a little doubtful that I can keep up with you Emily Prentiss, but I can try.” He managed a smile.

“I wouldn’t ask you if it was too much. Wait, I might ask but please feel free to say no.”

“I'm not going to say no.” Jason took a deep breath. He was in this; something in his gut just told him that he was in it. “I haven’t seen many Woody Allen films?”

“Have you seen Annie Hall?” Emily asked.

“Yes.” He nodded.

“Manhattan?”

“Yes.”

“Then you're fine. Hannah and her Sisters is one of his best.” She started walking again and Jason walked with her. “There are probably a million things I could educate you on Jason Gideon. I think you lucked up having such a generous new friend.”

“I plan to give too.” he said. “Friendships aren’t supposed to be one-sided. People are supposed to be good for each other.”

“I think we can be that.” Emily smiled, slipping her arm in his
.

“I'm getting a job this summer.” She slipped her Zippo back into the back pocket of her cut off shorts.

“That’s good news. I know Dr. Strauss and other staff is working on occupying everyone’s time. It can't be easy; I can't imagine the kind of favors she has to call in. People just assume some kids are delinquents because they end up here.”

“Some kids are.”

“Yeah, and so are some kids in Woodley Park.” Jason said.

“So true.” she nodded.

“Where will you be working?”

“She said her friend owns a bookstore. I have to interview for it but I'm really good at that kind of thing. I can be whatever people need me to be.”

“People only need you to be Emily.” Jason replied.

“I’ll be Emily tomorrow night when we go to the movie. I'm really excited; I've never seen a Woody Allen film on the big screen.”

“Are you sure you even like him?” Jason couldn’t help but grin when he asked.

“Jason Gideon, you're not allowed to play games with my mind. Not unless…nevermind.”

“What?”

“I was just going to say something overtly sexual. I probably shouldn’t.”

“You stopped yourself. There is some hope for you after all, Emily Prentiss.”

“And you made a funny…so I can say the same.”

***

 
 
Where am I?: the lair
Feelings: pensivepensive
Background Noise: "Have You Ever Been in Love?" Peter Cetera
 
 
 
( 2 had thoughts — Thoughts? )
purplediamond87purplediamond87 on January 8th, 2013 10:13 am (UTC)
i really hope you can continue this universe cos its really interesting!
of course you know me, I love everything Rossi/Strauss and I would love to know more about them in this world you've created!
This first part was fantastic, even though they're still the characters we know and love they still have a new unique back story and I enjoy reading about that, this universe is no different!
Looking forward to more already!
SSA McGeek: Erin.....mcthinkymcgarrygirl78 on January 8th, 2013 12:47 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed it. I think the reason it might be so hard for me to go on is because it gets darker and deals with some things like suicide, physical abuse, and that sort of thing and sometimes even when its in your mind you just dont want to release the Kraken...you dont know what else is going to come with it when you open the Pandora's Box. Plus I never want to fall into the "Women in peril, men rescue them" box, which is always possible when writing shipper fic.

Anyhoo, I dont know if there will ever be a forum where my brain opens and I get the whole story but I did love the beginning and the world it shows and these two women living their lives, struggling and suddenly colliding, and the men who love them.
( 2 had thoughts — Thoughts? )