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It all started with touch.
Well, no, it really started with a smile. JJ's eyes fluttered closed as the memory snuck in and caressed her with whispers of the past. That first day, warm brown eyes lingered just a little too long as hands were shaken, introductions were made and the nickel tour was given.
Going home that night, all she could remember about Emily was how alive the older agent's smile had made her feel. She should have known then that it was too late.
Emily Prentiss had stood on the outside of their little family for so long that JJ had almost forgotten that initial response, but then, as these things do, something happened.
Maybe it was gradual, like the tide stealing a bit of the land with every swell, or perhaps there was some defining event JJ could never quite decide, but what she did know was deep and intensely pure. Every minute spent in the company of Emily Prentiss was worth every hour she had to spend wallowing in the filth of human unkindness.
In the kitchen, Emily looked up from washing the dishes and bestowed one of her rare, full-faced smiles on her lover.
Flooded in the warmth of that regard, JJ slid from her perch on the couch and joined Emily in the kitchen. Their embrace was natural, almost regal as Emily drew JJ close and rested her cheek against the blonde crown of the press liaison's head.
Sighing, Jennifer said, "You are something else."
"I am?" There was a hint of a chuckle tingeing Emily's voice.
"How on Earth do you manage to wash dishes and not get the sleeves of your jacket wet?"
Full and merry, Emily's laughter blossomed. "Would you believe me if I said it was a secret?"
"Maybe if you share it with me?" JJ tipped her head back to look at her lover and grinned at the expression of consternation that rippled across Emily's noble features.
"You're one of those people that always wants to know the secrets behind the magician's tricks, aren't you?" Emily shook her head and stroked the back of her fingers across JJ's cheek. "Don't you know that some things are better left to the greater mystery of life?"
JJ smiled even as Emily's touch ignited a flurry of heat in her gut. "And the fact that you managed to keep your sleeves dry is one of those great mysteries?"
Somehow, Emily managed to look perfectly serious. "Of course. Long ago, an ancient and wise man passed the secret on to my family. It is to honor him that I practice the art of 'Wet Dishes, Dry Sleeves'."
For about thirty seconds, it looked as if JJ would buy the older woman's explanation, but then she stepped back and snorted disbelievingly. Catching sight of something, she reached down and revealed the pale tan strip of a large rubber band.
"You," JJ said, punctuating her words with a poke to her lover's chest. "Are full of so much shit, Emily Prentiss. It's a damn good thing I love you."
As the words left JJ's mouth, Emily's eyes became the windows to a soul that had been long parched. Such was the depth of sadness growing within them, that JJ felt her own eyes moisten. Yet, in less than a heartbeat, the emotion was gone, replaced by a joy so intense that it struck JJ like a blow.
"I love you too, Jennifer." The words were spoken with all the solemnity of an oath and a prayer.
The light that went on inside of JJ's mind was blinding. That was the first time we said it. Her face a mask of wonderment, JJ slid back into Emily's arms and whispered, "I do, you know. Love you. Like nothing I've ever known."
Emily swallowed and murmured, "Me too." Slowly, she brushed dozens of soft kisses over JJ's cheeks until the other woman captured her lips in a long, intense embrace.
She is light and sound and fury. She is comfort and passion and pain. She is hero and savior and saved. She is everything that is and isn't. In that moment, all that she is or ever will be has shifted. The tune of her life has changed from a singular, melancholy air to a symphony of such explosive passion that not even the sun going nova would eclipse this one, perfect heartbeat.
"Take me to bed, Emily," whispered JJ. "I have all the mystery I need right here."
In this moment, she just is, and that is enough.
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