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If there was one thing Emily Prentiss had learned from her mother, it was never let the slings and arrows of life's little happenstances leave marks where they could show.
Neither flying bullets nor curses and epithets in a hundred different dialects roaring in their ears like the snarls of a thousand lions, could shatter Ambassador Prentiss' façade of perfect serenity. Like armor worn by knights of old, that cool expression had been passed on from mother to daughter and had followed Emily throughout her career in the FBI.
In crimes both hollow and harrowing, among the detritus of a broken family or the scattered remains of a serial killer's bloody imaginings, Emily Prentiss had kept her emotions locked away in tiny little boxes.
Within her mind, each container bore a label. Some, she would take out and examine as a scientist studies a treatise on the origin of the species; others were locked away in a vault so deep that only her nightmares held the key to open them.
One box, one special container held something else, something so bright and fine that Emily feared letting even the slimmest shred of conscious thought to haze across its contents.
Upon this one, the label shone in shades of blue and gold, and it was a name. Five syllables, fourteen letters and a world of meaning that so far outweighed the simple tag forced Emily to admit that, where Agent Jennifer "JJ" Jareau was concerned, she was completely unable to maintain her mask.
It was a damn good thing that JJ couldn't read minds.
Or, at least, that's what Emily had assumed, until one simple, ordinary night following a day that was so far from unusual, that the agents actually called it "boring".
Everything changed. No words were spoken; no softly whispered phrases to a future too blurry to guarantee promises crossed her ears. Only the sharp rap of knuckles against a door, one glance into eyes filled with tears, fears and a question that needed a single answer.
It was then that the stagnant whispers of past failures threaded like cobwebs before Emily's eyes. Mockingly, they teased her with sense memories of a broken heart and almost almost, she gave in to the horrible siren's keen.
There, upon the liminal stage of fight or flight, Emily chose flight. Banishing the ghosts in her head, Emily fell into Jennifer's embrace and spread her wings.
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