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Title:  Logical Assumptions  (1/2)
Series: Of Innocence and Empathy
Author: [livejournal.com profile] thefrogg
Beta: [livejournal.com profile] fluffnutter
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: I don't own them. Damnit.
Author's Note:  Picks up immediately after Unwanted Resources.  It would probably make more sense if that were read first.

"You're right.  You can't help me."

The words hit home with the subtlety of an atomic bomb.  Hotch half-stood, opened his mouth to contradict her with all the weight of authority and experience he could manage, but stopped, words unsaid; the door had shut between them, a barrier slamming into place with sickening finality.

"Emily."  Her name escaped JJ's throat a shocked and broken thing, clawing its way free.

Hotch tore his gaze away from Emily's hunched form outside the conference room and watched as JJ rose, her grace and poise gone, moving as if pulled by strings until she was pressed against the glass, one hand flattened on the pane.  "JJ?"  He sat down again.

"I.  I never asked."  Her voice was hollow, aching.  "I just--I only--"  She cut herself off, running her free hand through her hair, baring ears flushed scarlet.  "I never asked," she said again, dropping to a hoarse whisper.  "It just meant she was alive, that's all I cared about."

"Wait--JJ, what--"

A glance past JJ had Hotch shaking his head, silencing the questions, the protests.

"Hotch."  JJ twisted around, eyes bleak and pinning him in his chair.

"Go."  Emily had made it to the hall, and there was no telling where she was headed in her frame of mind.  "I don't want her driving."

JJ was gone before he got the last few words out.

"She lied," Reid said softly, finding his voice.  "She lied, why would she, it's us--"

"Reid."  Morgan reached over and covered one twitching hand with his.

"She may not be lying.  Memories are funny things," Gideon rumbled.

"Garcia?"

"Yes, sir?"  The typing paused as she peered over the top of her laptop.

Hotch pinched the bridge of his nose.  "Please tell me you have something."

"Yes, sir, and I can even explain what JJ was talking about--I think.  Sort of?"  She paused then, ducking behind her laptop screen and squirming in her chair.

"The only thing I can think of that would make sense is scars."

Garcia met Hotch's eyes over the screen again, still anxious.  "Yes, sir, but...You know I wouldn't dig, this is team, I--" 

The specter of Morgan's past raised its ugly head in the heavy silence that followed.

"Penelope."

Garcia swallowed and glanced at Morgan, then back at her keyboard, licking her lips nervously.

"Yeah, I was mad, but I forgave you that a long time ago.  Emily will be the same way, I promise.  Once this is over and she calms down, she'll understand you were trying to help her."

"And," Hotch added, cutting off whatever other reassurances Morgan was about to offer - not on Emily's time, his subconscious whispered, "us not profiling each other is a courtesy, one that we cannot afford if one of us is in danger.  I should have made that clear after Chicago, but I'm making it standard operating procedure now.  If Emily has a problem with you digging into her past, you tell her you were under orders and send her to me."

"I just--I just hate treating you guys like suspects, really, I do, and it's just...just makes me feel really horrible doing it."  She gave a little huff.  "So.  I was thinking, since I don't have the training, what would make her this, you know, paranoid, and figured whatever happened had to include major medical, and since I didn't have a clue when it happened - although I guessed it wasn't too early for her not to have some pretty clear memories of it - I started with her medical records at the beginning."

"And?"

Garcia barely glanced at Gideon.  "And...I found a whole lot of normal.  Ear infections, strep throat, one nasty case of bronchitis when she was seven she was hospitalized for but never quite turned into pneumonia, a fractured wrist, no sign of abuse or anything unusual.  Up until about age thirteen she could be the poster child for kid normal."

Morgan pounced on the caveat.  "Until age thirteen?  Tell me it gets interesting then."

"Nooo," and Garcia drew it out, then sighed dramatically; her typing made an arrhythmic staccato backdrop.  "Then, it gets weird.  Like, alien abduction level weird.  Because from three months before her fourteenth birthday to almost five months after her fifteenth birthday, there is absolutely nothing.  No yearly checkup, no flu shot - and she would have needed one since she was back in the good ole U.S. of A. - not even a dentist visit.  There is nada on her for those twenty months."

Hotch frowned.  "I'd call that unusual, but not exactly weird."

"That's--"  She tilted her head slightly, glancing off to one side at the carpet before continuing, "not the weird part."

~~~to be continued~~~
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