DISCLAIMER: Criminal Minds and its characters are the property of CBS. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I've owed Maxi this fic for months. She requested Criminal Minds with a photo album as her prompt. I managed the fandom, but I changed the prompt to a journal. Thanks, as always, to the wonderful Debbie for taking the time to beta.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Five Random Entries in the Journal of Emily Prentiss
By Ann


Day 1 - Down and Out . . .

Solitude can be both a blessing and a curse. When the hustle and bustle of real life takes over, I crave it desperately, but when life slowly comes to a rolling stop, the silence soon becomes almost too much to bear. Those are the times I'm left to assess and critique the decisions I've made, to crawl into myself and delve on my mistakes and faulty judgments, and to play out different scenarios over and over again, each time changing variables until I'm able to obtain results I truly desire. Problem is the satisfaction is superficial; it's all in my head, crammed tightly against my lofty hopes and dreams. But with the dawning of a new day, I'm right back where I started – having to live with the choices I made the first time around, having to protect myself from what others might think of me should I ever express my true self, and the absolute most difficult thing of all, having to pretend I'm happy in my own skin. Perhaps someday things will be different; perhaps someday I'll find someone who touches me so deeply, I'll be willing to climb from the protective shell I've carefully cast around myself.

Day 2 - A New Day Dawns . . .

It's been almost three months to the day that I was accepted into the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the F. B. I., and I find myself feeling a part of something for the first time in my life. You couldn't have put a more different group of individuals together if you'd tried. Each unique in their own special way, myself included, but we work, we click. Our focus is always on the case at hand, but occasionally, our outside lives creep in, and when they do, it's surprisingly comfortable, whether it be something trivial or something much more serious. These people have become my family or rather what I perceive a family to actually be. Yes, I still put up my walls, surround myself with a fake veneer to protect myself from harm, but the truth of the matter is that, with this group, I don't have to. Old habits die hard though, especially ones that have been carefully crafted and perfected through the years from early childhood to adulthood. Perhaps someday my instinctual reflexes will not be to cover my true thoughts and feelings, but rather to share everything – confusion, sorrow, happiness, and even pain – with my new family.

Day 3 - A Moment of Perfect Clarity . . .

I never saw it coming – how blind could I have been? Of course, I'd noticed how well Special Agent Jennifer Jareau and I got along, how we'd always share glances and teasing words, sometimes not having to finish a sentence because the other instinctively knew what would come next. I'd simply thought we were a couple of kindred spirits, two women in a man's world who'd been given the unique opportunity to work side by side practically every working moment. Neither of us had any reservations about sharing a room in the field, it was the obvious choice. From day one, JJ and I would settle comfortably into a room – she'd take the bed to the right of the nightstand and I'd take the left, our sleeping habits as well as our nightly and morning rituals in perfect sync with each other. It was in one such hotel room in Miami where I saw JJ in a completely different light. I'd awakened in the middle of the night to find her standing in front of the window, silhouetted in the soft moonlight that streamed into the room. My breath was ripped from my body; I'd never seen anything so beautiful.

Day 4 – Resigned to fate . . .

I did it again. I turned down an invitation from JJ for drinks after work. The minute I'd discovered Garcia wouldn't be able to join us, I'd scrambled for an excuse, finally grasping hold of one I'd hoped would sound plausible, one that wouldn't appear to have been made up on the spot, one that wouldn't hurt JJ's feelings. I went with the old standby – my mother phoned at the last minute and wanted to have dinner in the city. JJ had smiled sweetly and assured me that she'd understood. And I truly believe she had. So, as I stood in front of my apartment window, sipping from my wine glass and staring out at the spectacular view of the Capitol that I'd paid way too much for, I was overcome by guilt. I'd lied to the one person I care most about, but I simply couldn't chance that she didn't harbor the same feelings. I couldn't risk the one friendship I've come to depend upon. The Cabernet suddenly tasted bitter and sour, and I swallowed grudgingly, allowing the liquid to leave a tainted taste in my mouth. I'd finally found the one I want, only I couldn't have her.

Day 5 – Just a day, just an ordinary day . . .

I dread those days when loose ends need to be tied up and boxed into a tidy package. It's difficult to keep focused on facts and not the faces of victims. Out in the field, I'm constantly searching for the next clue and don't spend long moments dwelling on the sadness that has brought another life to an end. There's simply not time for that. Paperwork days, though, are different. There's too much time to linger on the sadness, so I often hide out in an empty conference room, away from the others, as I struggle to treat the day as any other, just an ordinary day. Today, however, was even more difficult than usual; today, I couldn't wipe the angelic face of ten year old Mary Evans from my mind. I was unaware of tears that had welled up in my eyes until a single drop escaped and landed on the table's surface. I stared down at the perfectly formed droplet as more tears joined their counterpart. Equally startled by the gentle touch of lips against my temple, I hesitated long moments before finally accepting my fate and allowing strong arms to surround me. Today was far from ordinary.

The End

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