DISCLAIMER: Criminal Minds and the characters therein belong to CBS and the show’s creators. I own nothing…except maybe Daphne and Katie.
SPOILERS: Mostly for Season 2 (but I'm hoping everyone has seen that season already) and very vague ones for Season 4 Demonology as I draw information from that episode as well as the Season 4 Ep Cold Comfort.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To cmsvu2010[at]gmail.com

The Road Not Taken
By Acathla


Chapter 5

After she was released from the hospital, Emily, Katherine and her parents headed to their house in Atlantic City so they could begin to prepare for the move back to Wayne. They stayed in Atlantic City for a few days before they packed everything up and left early in the morning for Wayne.

The trip to Wayne was uneventful, Katherine slept the entire trip in her car seat with Emily right beside her.

It didn't take them long to settle back into the Wayne house and Emily and her mom came up with a cover story to explain why they suddenly had a new baby in the house.

Emily returned to school and William would take care of Katherine during the day. Emily reconnected with Daphne and it was like she'd never left. When Daphne came by the house one day, Emily explained to her the cover story her mother had come up with, saying that Emily's mother was actually pregnant when they left for Italy. Katherine was born at the consulate in Rome, making her an American citizen.

From then on, Daphne went on believing that Katherine was Emily's sister.

Months flew by and Katherine grew into the cutest baby. Emily would come home from school, get her homework done then takeover for her father and take care of Katherine, whom they began calling Katie. Once Katie was down for the night, Emily would be free to watch television or even talk on the phone with Daphne for a few hours before she crashed for the night.

Before too long, Emily and Katie developed a routine and there were occasions when Daphne would join them when they went out to the park on the weekends or even during the week when Daphne and Emily would hang out together.

Emily's junior year flew by with little fanfare. Emily was too busy with Katie and being a mom to worry about trying to fit in with the popular crowd or even extra-curricular activities. She wasn't one to play sports even before she had Katie so it was no big loss to her that she couldn't play them now.

Summer vacation was spent mostly with Katie, with Daphne occasionally tagging along, but just before school let out, Daphne started dating a boy on the baseball team and she spent most of her summer with him. Emily was a little sad at losing time with her best friend but she understood what it was like when there was a new relationship so she tried to be happy for Daphne.

It was near the end of August when her mom came into Emily's bedroom after dinner and said, "Emily, honey, there's something I need to talk to you about."

Emily put aside the book she was reading and gave her mom her full attention, thankful that Katie was already sleeping in her crib in her bedroom across the hall. "Yeah mom?"

Elizabeth sat down on the corner of Emily's bed and said, "Well, Katie's first birthday is coming up soon and I was wondering how you wanted to celebrate it. We could have a party for her, with some of the diplomats I know and their children, or we can have a private celebration with just the family…and Daphne of course."

Emily thought about that for a moment and decided that she didn't really want to have a big party with people and kids Katie didn't know. She didn't want to have to make her daughter dress up and be on her best behavior at her own birthday party. Emily decided that she would much rather have a private celebration with just her parents and Daphne. Something small and intimate that wouldn't require Katie to be anything other than exactly who she was. "I think it might be best to have a private celebration. I don't think Katie's ready for a big party. Besides, she wouldn't even know what was going on, you know?"

Elizabeth smiled, "Yeah…I guess first birthday parties are more for the parents than the kids. Okay, we can have a small celebration. Maybe a simple dinner and cake, can't forget the cake."

Emily chuckled, "Oh yeah, can't forget the cake mom. Maybe have a small one just for Katie and another one for the grownups?" Emily knew her daughter was likely to forego the utensils and attack the cake, so she figured if she had her own it would be better than trying to stop her.

Elizabeth, also knowing her granddaughter very well, just grinned and nodded, "Yeah, that sounds like a good plan."

They shared a quiet laugh before Elizabeth excused herself to finish some paperwork. Emily watched her leave then went back to her book, smiling at the image of her daughter grinning, with cake all over her face.

The day of Katie's birthday, Emily went to school as normal then came home and began preparing for the small party. It wasn't going to be much, just a nice dinner, some cake and then some time with Katie playing with her toys and just being the cutest one year old on the planet.

By the time evening fell, everything was ready for the small celebration. The gifts had been stacked in a corner of the family room, waiting for Katie to rip them open (with some help from Emily of course), dinner was ready to be served and the only thing missing was Daphne who was running a bit late.

Emily had an idea that she wanted to run by her mom so she left Katie with her father and pulled her mother aside into the kitchen.

"Mom, there's something I need to talk to you about and it has to happen before Daphne gets here."

Elizabeth was confused but she was willing to listen, "Ok, what did you want to talk about?"

Emily paced a few steps before she forced herself to sit down across from her mother at the small breakfast table and she asked, "What would you say if I told you I was thinking about telling Daphne the truth about Katie?"

Elizabeth took a moment to process what Emily had just said, it didn't seem like she'd heard right. "You want to tell Daphne the truth? That Katie is your daughter?"

"Yeah. I've thought about this a lot mom and it basically comes down to the fact that I don't like lying to my best friend." Emily explained, knowing that it was the simplistic version of what was motivating her to come clean with her best friend.

Elizabeth thought about that for a moment and tried to think of all the possible consequences of what Emily wanted to do. She stood up from the table and walked to the fridge and took out a bottle of orange juice. She poured two glasses then sat down again at the table, offering one of the glasses to Emily. After a long sip, she looked up into dark eyes so much like her own and said, "I understand that you don't like lying to Daphne. I, myself, am not comfortable with it because she is you best friend, but Emily have you thought this through? What if she doesn't react well and tells everyone at your school? It would defeat the purpose of all that we've done to keep the truth of Katie's origin a secret."

Emily thought about what her mother was saying and she said, "Daphne wouldn't do that. She wouldn't betray me like that mom."

Elizabeth looked down into her juice for a moment then looked up and said, "How about a compromise?"

"Like what?"

"I won't stand in your way of telling Daphne the truth, if you at least wait until after graduation to tell her." Elizabeth figured that if Emily waited until she was out of high school, the damage wouldn't be as bad as if she told her now and had to go through her senior year with people whispering behind her back about her being a mom so young. The words 'slut' and 'whore' ran through Elizabeth's mind as she imagined the cruelty of teenagers who had nothing better to do than tear each other down.

Emily thought she knew why her mother was suggesting she wait until graduation and she had to admit that her mother had a point. If she waited until after graduation, and Daphne reacted badly, the time she would have to spend dealing with an angry Daphne wouldn't be long. College would make sure of that, especially if they ended up at different schools. Emily looked up at her mom and said, "Ok, I'll wait."

Elizabeth stood up from the table and pulled Emily to her feet and hugged her. She knew it wasn't fair on Emily to have to lie to her best friend about something so important but in the long run, it was what was best for everyone.

After a few minutes, they separated and Emily went upstairs to check on Katie while her mom sat back down at the table and let out a shaky breath. She allowed herself a moment of mental entropy before she pulled herself together. It was going to be a long night but it would be worth it to see Katie opening her gifts and smiling and happy. This was her first birthday and Elizabeth was determined to make it memorable.

Dinner had gone smoothly with everyone just talking and enjoying themselves. They brought out the two cakes and sang 'Happy Birthday' to Katie, with Emily helping her to blow out the lone candle on the small cake. She tied a bib around Katie's neck and then stood back as Katie attacked the cake with both hands, just making a mess.

Elizabeth then brought out the other cake and sliced it up for the others. Emily, William, Daphne and herself each got a piece of cake and enjoyed it as they watched Katie eating her cake and giggling. She had frosting all over her cheeks and even on her nose and her hands were a lost cause. No one minded though, because they knew it was better this way than to try to get Katie to eat with any sense of decorum. Besides that, it was her birthday and no one was going to tell her no today.

Once the cake was eaten and Katie was satisfied that there was nothing left on her plate, Emily took her into the bathroom and cleaned her up. She also changed her into her pajamas while she had the chance so that it would be easier later to put her to bed.

Daphne, William and Elizabeth had retired to the family room where Katie's gifts were waiting to be torn open. The adults had coffee while Daphne had opted for a glass of orange juice. They were watching MTV with the volume set low as they waited for Emily to return with Katie.

The video for the Jets' Crush on You came on just as Daphne worked up the nerve to ask something that had been bugging her for a while now. "Mrs. Prentiss, can I ask you something?"

Elizabeth smiled at Daphne and said, "Of course Daphne."

Daphne took a breath, "There's something I've been wondering about for a while now. I realize it's probably none of my business, but I was wondering why Emily is always the one who takes care of Katie. I mean, I know they're sisters and very close but, Emily is always taking care of Katie. Even now, she's the one cleaning her up when it seems like something you as her mother should be doing." Daphne didn't mean to sound rude or anything but it bugged her that it seemed like Emily was sacrificing her teen years to be more of a mom to Katie than their own mother.

Elizabeth glanced at her husband for a moment then looked to Daphne. She had to make a real effort not to snap at the young girl, knowing that her questions came from a place of caring about Emily. The lie that rolled off her tongue was so smooth and flawless that she almost believed it herself, "Daphne, there were complications with Katie's birth. I pushed a bit too hard and ruptured a blood vessel…down there…and it led to other complications which resulted in me being in a coma for a week after Katie was born. Emily stepped up and took care of Katie while my husband stayed by my side. Emily named Katie and took really good care of her. They bonded in a way that I can't explain," she paused for effect as she glanced at her husband again. To the outside observer, it would seem like she was looking at him for emotional support and then she looked back at Daphne, "but I would never do anything to come between them. So yes, Emily takes care of Katie probably more than most sisters would but that's to be expected after what happened."

Daphne took a moment to process it all and then she felt a tear slide down her cheek when it hit her how close Emily had probably come to losing her mother. "I am so sorry I asked Mrs. Prentiss. I didn't mean to bring up a bad memory."

"It's alright Daphne, you were curious and like I said, I know that to someone who doesn't know the truth, it might seem strange how much Emily takes care of Katie." Elizabeth said, silently hoping Daphne bought it and dropped the subject.

Daphne sensed the topic was closed so she just smiled and nodded then turned back to the tv, which was now playing a Madonna video.

After a few moments, Emily walked into the family room with Katie and smiled as she set her daughter down in front of the pile of gifts. She whispered into the one-year-old's ear, "Hey baby girl, these are all yours. Have fun." With that, she stood back as she watched her daughter first looked around at the grown-ups around her then back to the gifts. She then looked at Emily and pointed to the gifts.

Emily knew what Katie was trying to ask and she just nodded, "Yup. Go ahead." She motioned with her hands to the gifts and waited.

Katie heard the voice, not totally understanding the words but knowing from her mom's face and smile that it was ok, and she saw the hand motion and she grinned before she turned back to the pile and leaned forward. She landed on her hand and crawled to the closest brightly wrapped box. She grabbed it then sat back and stared at it. She turned it over in her hands, as if she was studying it, then she found a fold in the paper and she grinned again as she slipped a small, slender finger into the fold and began to pull.

For the next half hour, Katie gave each gift a similar treatment, opening each one on her own as the grown-ups watched from the couch, smiling at the precocious little girl. One by one, Katie uncovered toys, a book and two outfits.

By the time she was finished, she was laughing and happy but she was also yawning a bit. Emily knew it was time to put Katie down for the night so she turned to Daphne, "Hey, it's Katie's bedtime. Can you wait for me while I put her down?"

Before Daphne could answer, Elizabeth stepped in, "Actually, Emily, why don't I put Katie down while you and Daphne hang out a bit?"

"Are you sure mom?" Emily asked, wondering what her mom was up to.

Elizabeth just smiled, "Absolutely. Go on, we'll be fine."

"Ok." She turned to Daphne, "Come on, let's go." She grabbed Daphne's hand and pulled her out the back door onto the deck then led her down the steps into the yard and over to the small gazebo in the far corner of the yard. She stepped into the small building, pulling Daphne in behind her and they sat down on the benches.

They sat in silence for a few moments before Daphne asked, "So, why are we out here?"

Luckily, it was still warm enough outside that they didn't need coats and could sit outdoors like this. Emily shrugged, "I dunno. It was the first place I could think of to go when my mom gave me the night off." She chuckled at her words, as if taking care of Katie was a job or something.

Daphne nodded as if to say 'I see' and then she smiled. "Well…I guess you could've come up with worse places. At least it's a nice night."

"Yeah." Emily looked up at the sky from one of the side panels and smiled at all the stars she could see. She was silent as she studied the night sky and began to silently identify the constellations. It was something she'd picked up when she was a child. Her father had taught her how to recognize the constellations as a way of helping her with her homesickness. Every time her mom got a new assignment and they moved to a new country, Emily and her father would spend the first night looking at the skies, finding the constellations. He explained to her that these same stars she was looking at in this foreign country were the same stars that were shining down on her grandmother here in Wayne.

After her grandmother had passed away, the stars held a new comfort, they were the same stars that her grandmother now hid behind in heaven. For as long as she could remember, the stars always held a comfort and security for Emily.

Daphne let her best friend study the stars while she studied her best friend. Sometime in the six months that Emily was away in Italy, Daphne had begun to realize that she felt more for her dark haired friend than simple, platonic friendship. She had fought it for a long time but when Emily came back and they spent time together, it became too strong to ignore. Daphne had finally accepted that she was in love with her best friend…and it had scared the hell out of her.

She knew there was no way Emily would ever feel the same and she didn't want to risk their friendship over it so she pushed her feelings down and went looking for someone to take her mind off of it. What she found was a cute baseball player on the school's team. It was easy for Daphne to play the role she'd assigned herself, not even feeling the least bit guilty about using the poor boy as a distraction.

It was working out great until she realized that she would rather be alone than continue the charade…especially after he had started bringing up sex. Daphne wasn't about to sleep with him and she knew that her only choice was to break up with him. She had done that about a week ago but she hadn't told Emily yet.

Looking at Emily now, Daphne felt her heart constrict a bit at the thought of losing her best friend because she had fallen for her. Finally the silence became too much and she said, "So…senior year is finally here…should be great huh?"

Emily turned to look at her best friend and smiled, "Yeah, I guess. I mean, so far it's the same as Junior year."

Daphne grinned, "Yeah but it's only September. Your birthday is next month, plus there's the prom and senior week and…graduation. I think you need to come out of your shell a bit there Em. Maybe even get a boyfriend this year?" Despite her feelings, Daphne knew she'd never stand in the way if Emily found a boy she liked enough to date.

Emily frowned at the thought of dating anyone. She wasn't ready for that…especially since anyone she dated would have to be kept in the dark about the truth about Katie. It was bad enough she was lying to her best friend, she didn't want to have to lie to anyone else. "Somehow I doubt I'll be dating anyone anytime soon."

Despite the brief surge of joy those words produced, Daphne still had to ask, "Why not? You're cute and there are a lot of guys at school who would love to go out with you."

Emily just shook her head, "I'm just not into dating anyone. Besides, none of the guys at school really catch my attention anyway. I'd rather focus on my grades…and Katie."

Daphne frowned, "Ok, the grades I can understand but Emily, you have to live your own life and leave your sister to your mom's care. She's not your responsibility, and when you go off to college next year, it'll be easier on everyone if Katie is already used to you not being around."

Emily knew that, if Katie really was her sister and not her daughter, Daphne's words would make sense, but knowing that Katie was her responsibility and that she couldn't just pawn the little girl off on her parents, made it harder to hear what Daphne was saying. "I hear what you're saying Daph, but it's…complicated. Katie needs me and that's why I am most likely going to stay in New Jersey for college, so I can be around for her." She shrugged as if she was helpless to change the situation, "It's the right thing to do."

Daphne was about to argue but she knew from the look in Emily's eyes that it would be pointless. So she simply sighed and looked up at the sky, "So, remind me again which one is the Big Dipper?"

Emily relaxed as it seemed that Daphne wasn't going to pursue this topic. She leaned closer and began to point out all the constellations they could see and she even gave brief but detailed histories on how they got their names.

By the time Daphne went home, things were back to normal between them. Katie was asleep and Emily checked in on her before she said good night to her parents and went to her room to read for a bit before bed. It had been a good birthday for Emily, seeing her daughter turn one had a profound effect on the teenager and before she turned the light out to go to bed, she reached over and picked up the rosary that Matt had given her before she'd left Italy.

Matt was a devout Catholic, and finding out he was gay had shaken his faith for a long time, but he seemed to be coming to terms with it when Emily left Italy. He had given her the rosary as a keepsake to remember him by. Emily stroked the cross as she thought about her current situation. She silently thanked whoever might be listening for Katie, knowing that despite how she came into the world, Emily wouldn't change a thing if it meant she could have her daughter. That night, Emily fell asleep with a smile on her face as she thought about the other milestones in Katie's life that she would be there to see and celebrate.


Chapter 6

December 1988

The weeks following Katie's birthday flew by in a flurry of activity. Emily's birthday in October had come and gone with very little fanfare. She didn't mind though, she was only turning 17 and she was more excited over Katie's first birthday than her own. Her parents had surprised her with a car for her birthday, complete with car seat and fully insured.

Daphne had refused to let the day pass without celebrating at least a little, so she took Emily out for a movie and then bought her a cupcake at a local bakery to mark the occasion. She'd even brought along a candle and lit it so Emily could make her birthday wish.

It had been a good time, and Emily was glad that her parents had insisted on babysitting Katie so Emily could celebrate her birthday.

For Halloween, Emily dressed Katie in a bumblebee outfit and spent the night at home, handing out candy and watching television. Daphne had come over, dressed as a sexy nurse, and together they had a good time passing out candy and watching TV and playing with Katie.

Emily's parents had dressed up as Bonnie & Clyde and gone to a Halloween party in the City that was being hosted by one of her mom's bosses. It was mandatory attendance so they didn't have much of a choice, however William insisted that if they had to get dressed up, they might as well go as something fun. Elizabeth had given in after a token objection.

Thanksgiving was a fairly quiet event. Elizabeth had pre-ordered dinner, turkey with all the trimmings from a local catering company because she was going to be working the whole day and wouldn't have time to cook the meal.

Emily and Katie camped out in the family room to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving parade. Katie was mesmerized by the big balloons and the performances, and Emily was just content to watch her daughter enjoy the parade.

They sat down to dinner around six o'clock then went back into the family room and watched Christmas movies to avoid the football games. William had even taken the day off from his writing to enjoy the time with his daughter and granddaughter.

That had been over a week ago. It was December now and Emily had less than a week to plan what to do for Daphne on her birthday. Emily had already arranged for her parents to watch Katie so that she could do something special for her best friend, she just needed to figure out what she was going to do.

She didn't want to just take her to a movie, it would just be like she was copying what Daphne did for her…no, she wanted something original.

Wednesday, December 7, 1988

The day started off normal enough for Daphne Morris. It was her birthday today and her parents had already wished her a happy birthday and given her, her gifts. Her mom had bought her a new Walkman and a few cassettes for it while her father had gotten her three new movies for the VCR in her bedroom.

After that, she'd taken a quick shower before getting ready for school. She walked out of her house at 7:30 on the dot and smiled at the now familiar sight of Emily sitting in her car waiting for her. Ever since Emily's birthday, Daphne could count on seeing Emily waiting for her to drive to school together. Before Emily got her own car, Daphne's mom would pick Emily up and drive them both to school.

Daphne walked to the car and smiled as she got in and buckled her seat belt, "Hi Em!"

Emily grinned at her best friend, "Hi Daph! Happy birthday!"

"Thanks." Emily handed her a thin box wrapped with purple paper.

As Daphne opened the gift, Emily began driving. Daphne was so focused on opening her gift, she didn't notice that Emily was going the wrong way.

Emily drove silently as she waited for Daphne to notice they weren't going to school. She had a full, fun day planned and she just hoped Daphne liked her birthday surprises.

Daphne finished opening the box that Emily had given her and she was surprised, and a little confused, when she saw what was inside. It was a pair of the softest black leather gloves. Daphne took the gloves out of the box and turned them over in her hand. They were absolutely beautiful. Daphne looked up and was about to look at Emily when she realized they weren't on the right road to school…in fact, they were about to get on the highway. The gloves forgotten, Daphne turned to Emily and asked, "Um, Emily? Why are we getting on the highway? School is back that way." The blonde pointed behind them with a grin on her face.

Emily merged onto the highway then glanced quickly at her best friend before turning her eyes back to the road. "I know where school is…but we're skipping school today."

"We are? Why?"

Emily grinned, "It's your birthday Daph, and the rest is a surprise."

Daphne shrugged her shoulders and decided to just go with the flow. She'd found out a while ago that it was fairly pointless to argue with her best friend. Besides, ever since she'd accepted that she was in love with Emily, she'd found it very difficult to say no to the dark-haired girl.

Emily saw the shrugging shoulders out of the corner of her eye and grinned again, knowing that she had won this round. She drove confidently towards Manhattan, already thinking of the day she had planned.

Daphne turned to look at her best friend and finally thought to ask, "Um, Emily? Not that I don't love them and think they are just gorgeous, but…why gloves?" Daphne already had a pair of gloves, granted they weren't leather and didn't have fleece lining but they did the job.

Emily kept her gaze on the road as she answered, "I saw them and wanted you to have them…plus, they're part of your birthday surprise." Emily shut up then, knowing that if she said anymore she would give the whole thing away.

Now the blonde was intrigued, her brain started racing through the possibilities of what her surprise could be that it involved leather gloves.

Silence settled in the car as Daphne's brain tried to figure out what Emily had in store for her. Emily, for her part, was hoping that Daphne would like her surprise. It had taken her a while to come up with the perfect way to celebrate Daphne's birthday and she only hoped that her friend liked her surprise.

Emily drove into the city and found a parking garage. She parked the car and then led her friend out onto the city street. They paused for a moment, just taking in the atmosphere of New York City. Daphne turned to Emily and, smiling, asked, "So, what's first on the agenda?"


"Oh, come on Em, I know you and I know that you wouldn't have brought us to the city, on a school day, if you didn't have a plan for the day. So, what's first?" Daphne asked, chuckling.

Emily sighed, smiling as she gave up and said, "Ok, there is a…flexible plan. Just trust me ok?"

Daphne grinned, "Okay, I'll trust you. Where to first?"

"First, is caffeine and some breakfast, sound good?"

Daphne looked around then back to Emily, "Sounds perfect. Lead the way."

Emily looped her arm through the blonde's and led her down the street towards the small diner that she remembered from her last trip to the City with her parents.

Daphne followed Emily down the street, placing herself in her best friend's hands, trusting her completely.

The morning passed by fairly quickly for them as they had breakfast at the small diner. They left the diner and began walking around the city just taking in all the sights. Daphne kept trying to get Emily to tell her what the big surprise was, but Emily would only smile and say that it wouldn't be a surprise if she told her.

Daphne's surprise turned out to be ice skating at Rockefeller Center. The two girls rented skates and spent close to two hours on the ice. Daphne needed some help at first and her new gloves came in handy to keep her hands warm as she fell a few times on the ice but she soon got the hang of it. Emily skated around her like an Olympic pro. She had taken lessons when she was younger and her mother was posted in Switzerland but when they had moved, the lessons had sadly ended. Still, she remembered enough to make it look like she was better than she really was.

After the ice skating, Emily and Daphne walked towards Broadway, drinking hot chocolate to warm up.

Daphne turned to Emily, "Ok, the ice skating was great, it was so much fun! But shouldn't we be getting back home?" It was already three in the afternoon and she was worried her parents would be upset when they found out that she had ditched school.

Emily smiled at her friend as she took a sip of her hot chocolate. "Relax Daphne, there's one last stop before we head home." Emily didn't want to tell the blonde that she had already cleared this birthday field trip with Daphne's parents unless she had no other choice. She had talked to them a few days ago and explained what she wanted to do for the day and they had agreed to let it happen. They were willing to let Daphne miss one day of school if it meant she had a great birthday. Emily wasn't worried about Daphne's parents and her own had already agreed to watch Katie for the whole day. If only for one day, Emily was determined to be like any other girl her age, carefree and happy.

Daphne, not knowing her parents were in on it with Emily, frowned and said, "Em, I love that we're in New York and I get that you want this to be a great day, and it is, but when my parents find out I ditched school they're going to kill me!"

Emily sighed and she moved closer to her friend, "No, they won't. They already know, they gave me permission to 'kidnap' you for your birthday and show you a great time. So relax and just enjoy the day, okay?"

Though the news that her parents had approved of this field trip was a bit of a surprise, she decided to go with it and face the consequences later. "Okay. Where are we off to now?"

They had reached Broadway by then and Emily took a moment to look around before she spotted their destination. She grinned and began to lead Daphne towards it.

Emily stopped in front of the Winter Garden Theater and directed Daphne to look up at the marquee. The blonde looked up and she saw the big poster/sign for the musical Cats. She turned to look at Emily, "Are you serious?"

Emily grinned and nodded, "Yup. You told me you wanted to see this one day well…today's the day. Come on." She motioned for her to follow her to the box office.

The guy at the window looked up at the pretty young girl who stepped up to his window. He smiled at her, "May I help you?"

Emily smiled her most charming smile, knowing that sometimes it was easier to deal with smarmy guys with a smile than with sarcasm, even if they did have nice British accents. "Yes, I have two tickets on hold, under the name Prentiss."

The guy's grin widened a bit then he turned away to look in the box of reserved tickets. This girl was really very pretty, and if she had tickets to the show, it meant she had or came from money. If he played his cards right, he might be able to score a date with her. He loved dating rich girls, they were always looking for someone to bring home to piss off mommy and daddy and he was very willing and able to play that role…especially when it resulted in money from the rich parents to 'stay away from their daughter'.

He found the tickets and turned back to the girl, still smiling. He wanted to charm the girl, his window of opportunity was growing smaller, "Here they are. I hope you enjoy the show Miss." It never took him much to get a girl interested and he was certain this girl would be no different.

Emily smiled at the guy, she knew he was trying to get her attention but she wasn't interested so she just took the tickets and thanked the guy. She turned away and walked back to Daphne. She held up the tickets, "We're all set, let's go inside."

Daphne smiled then hooked her arm through Emily's and followed her inside.

Mick Rawson watched as the pretty girl walked into the theater with her equally hot friend and he smiled, thinking that it would be very hot to have a threesome with the both of them. He shook his head ruefully as he was pulled from his fantasy by another customer.

It was close to 7 o'clock when Emily pulled the car to a stop in front of Daphne's house. The show had been great and afterwards, they had gone to dinner at small diner near the theater. Emily had wanted to take Daphne to a nice fancy restaurant but the blonde had insisted that she preferred a diner instead.

Emily turned to look at her best friend, "So…good birthday?"

Daphne grinned at Emily and said, "best birthday ever. Thank you so much for today Emily."

Emily smiled at her friend and said, "You don't have to thank me Daphne. I wanted to give you a great birthday…that's what best friends do, right?"

Daphne nodded, knowing that for her it was more than just a great day with her best friend. Thanks to her recently discovered feelings for her dark haired companion, Daphne secretly considered today to be almost like their first date.

After a few more minutes, they said good night and Daphne got out of the car and walked towards her front door. Emily watched her go, torn between walking her to her door and simply watching her walk. Soon though, it was taken out of her hands when her friend reached her door and slipped inside the house with a final wave.

Emily waited a few more moments before she shifted the car into drive and pulled away from the curb. As she drove home, Emily let herself think back on their day together and she found herself smiling at the memory.

She couldn't quite put her finger on it but something had happened today. Something had…shifted inside of her as the day wore on and she knew that she wasn't the same person that she was when she woke up this morning. Something had clicked inside of her and, until she figured out what that something was, she knew it would bug the crap out of her. She only hoped she figured it out fast, before her frustration caused her to lash out at someone.


Chapter 7

Christmas 1988

In the weeks that followed her friend's birthday, Emily had been slowly realizing that what had shifted inside of her that day was something she had no real frame of reference for…she was developing feelings for her best friend that she could only classify as more than friendly.

There had been moments when she caught herself wondering what it would be like to kiss Daphne, to run her hands through her long blonde hair. When her thoughts turned in that direction, she quickly shook it off and focused on something else—anything else to keep her imagination from going down that road.

It didn't help matters that, as best friends, they hung out every day after school and they even had a few classes together. The moments when Emily would fantasize about her best friend were becoming more frequent and she was having a much harder time just shaking them off.

In light of these new feelings, Emily was even more concerned over what to get her best friend. What was okay anymore? What was too personal, too impersonal, what would be considered too much or not enough? She was stressing out over what to get Daphne that the blonde would love but that wouldn't give her cause to think Emily felt more than just friendship?

Now, she only had a week left to get something before it was too late. Idly, Emily wondered what Daphne would get her this year.

What Emily didn't know was that Daphne was going through a similar struggle as she browsed the stores in the local mall. She had narrowed it down somewhat but she was still struggling to get something that was suitable between friends and not something you'd get someone you're dating. It wasn't until she took a right and walked down one of the hallways in the mall that she spotted a store she hadn't ever seen before. Curious, the blonde walked into the store and started looking around. Near the back of the store, in an ordinary looking display case, she found exactly what she was looking for…the perfect gift. She caught the sales lady's attention and within minutes she walked out of the store with the gift in a bag. Now, she just had to get something cute for Katie and she'd be all set.

William Prentiss could tell there was something bothering Emily. His little girl, which Emily would always be no matter how old she got or how many children she had, could usually hide her emotions from the rest of the world, but she'd never been able to hide them from him. They were too close for that, their bond had grown and strengthened over the years as they were always the ones who were left alone together as his wife did her job in her foreign postings. That was not to say that his wife had ever ignored or neglected them, but she had more important things to attend to than the everyday details of life outside the diplomatic circle.

William understood completely that his wife was doing important work and he fully supported her, doing his part to make sure their personal life, their family, was tended to and safe. He knew Elizabeth loved them both more than anything else, and her reaction when Emily had told her she was pregnant was further proof that his wife had her priorities straight.

Despite all that, however, he knew that Emily was closer to him than her mother and so, where Elizabeth might not have noticed the emotional turmoil Emily was going through, he certainly had.

When Emily returned home from Katie's latest appointment with Doctor Wingate for a routine check up, William decided it was time to confront his daughter about what was bothering her. He couldn't stand to see her sad anymore. He waited until Emily put Katie down for her afternoon nap, then he knocked on her bedroom door.

Emily looked up from the book she was reading when she heard a knock on her door. Since her father was the only one home with her she smiled and said, "Come on in dad."

William walked into Emily's room and smiled at his little girl. "Hey Kitten, how did it go at Doctor Wingate's?" He decided to start small, work his way up to asking the big questions.

Emily grinned, "it went as well as can be expected."

"What do you mean by that?" He grew concerned that maybe something was wrong with his granddaughter. Without thinking about it, his head turned in the direction of the bedroom where Katie lay sleeping then turned back to Emily.

Emily realized how she sounded and was quick to reassure her father, "Don't worry dad, Katie is fine. Clean bill of health…it's just that, she got some of her shots today and I just hate it when she hurts. I know it's important to give her the shots I just…don't like it when she's hurting."

William nodded, remembering quite well when Emily was Katie's age and he had to stand by and watch her get jabbed with needles for her immunizations. For Emily it had been a bit worse, since sometimes when his wife got a new posting, they would need to get immunization shots before they could fly with her to the new country. He hated seeing his little girl cry over the shots so he could sympathize with what Emily was going through now. "I remember that feeling. The only time I ever resented your mother's career was when one of her postings required extra shots for both of us. No parent likes to see their child in pain. Luckily, the pain fades and before you know it, she's smiling again."

"Yeah…that is a plus. She's sleeping it off right now." Emily paused a moment then asked, "So, what have you been doing all day?"

William chuckled as he took a seat on the corner of the bed. "Oh, you know me…working on the new book. Taking advantage of the silence to get some work done."

"Good. I can't wait to read the next installment of the adventures of Alex Nightwolf, private detective to the stars." Emily loved her father's books. Crime novels based on a character he created called Alex Nightwolf, half Native American, half English private detective who specialized in celebrity cases. This would be the third in the series so far and the first two books had been on the New York Times Best Sellers list for several months.

"Yeah, you and the rest of the country." William grinned, loving that Emily was his number one fan.

They were both quiet for a moment before William decided it was time to just ask Emily what he had come there to ask. "Em, you know that if there's anything you want or need to talk about, I'm always here for you, right?"

The change in topic surprised Emily but she was able to reply, "Of course daddy. I know I can always come to you with anything. Why would you ask that?"

William looked away for a moment before he took a breath and then looked at Emily again, "Lately, I've sensed that something was bothering you. Something more than the usual teenage stuff. So…if there's anything you wanted to talk about with me…I'm right here, okay?"

Emily took a moment to think about what her father was saying. A part of her wanted to tell him everything about the feelings she'd been having about Daphne, maybe get some advice or even just have someone to confide in…but the rest of her was scared that if she said it out loud, it would become real and there would be no going back. Emily wasn't ready to take that step…she also wasn't ready for the possibility that her developing feelings might ruin her relationship with her dad.

So she settled for smiling and saying, "it's nothing I can't handle daddy. I promise."

William knew there was more to it but he also knew that Emily would come to him when she was ready and not a moment sooner. He sighed then said, "Ok kitten." Sensing that was all he was going to get for now, he stood up, "Well, I should get back to work. But, why don't you come down stairs and keep me company? Maybe watch some TV, take advantage of Katie's nap and just relax?"

Emily thought about that and said, "That sounds like a good idea. I'll be down in a few minutes, I just want to check on Katie first."

"Ok, see you downstairs." William left the room and went back downstairs to the desk he'd set up with typewriter.

Emily watched him leave then got up and went to check on Katie, who was still sleeping soundly, before she went downstairs to the family room and turned on the TV. MTV News was on and Emily settled in to watch it.

Two days before Christmas

Emily hung up the phone with a smile and then walked over to where her father was sitting watching Katie play in the family room. She hugged him from behind and kissed his cheek. "Thank you so much dad!"

William Prentiss smiled and patted the arm that was around his shoulders. "You're welcome. I take it the 'mission' was a success?"

"Yup…it's all set. Thanks to you and Mr. Nightwolf." Emily chuckled as she came around the couch and sat down next to her father. Her eyes strayed to her daughter playing with her alphabet blocks, building towers then knocking them down and laughing her butt off at the results. She looked back to her father. "All it took was your credit card and an avid Nightwolf fan and those tickets were mine."

"Well, I'm happy to help." William smiled, glad to know that he was able to help Emily with her problem.

Emily sat on the couch with her dad, thinking about what she had to do now that the first step was taken. After weeks of wondering what to get Daphne for Christmas, she was watching MTV News and heard that Daphne's favorite band was playing in New York in March of next year. It took some doing, mostly explaining to her father why she wanted the tickets, which were insanely expensive, and how she was going to pay him back.

Now that she had the tickets secured and waiting for her at the box office, she just had to go and pick them up. Her next step after that, she knew, was going to be getting Daphne's parents to agree to let them go to the concert as well as getting her own parents' permission and babysitting services. But she knew her parents would let her go as long as she kept her grades up.


Chapter 8

May 1989

It was a month until graduation and it was starting to really sink in for Emily. High school was almost over and soon, she would be in college and Katie would be another year older, and Daphne would be almost 3000 miles away.

Daphne had recently been accepted to Stanford University for the fall semester and Emily, being a good best friend, had put aside her own feelings and encouraged Daphne to go for it. Emily had gotten her acceptance letter from Princeton a week ago and when she'd told Daphne, her friend was happy for her.

Emily knew that, while she might've liked to go to Yale or Harvard, she had to stay in New Jersey for Katie. It wouldn't be fair to uproot her daughter for four years when she didn't have to. She knew Daphne didn't totally get why she was staying in New Jersey and not taking advantage of the opportunity to 'escape' her parents.

But Emily knew that she couldn't do that, not to her parents and certainly not to her daughter. She loved Katie too much to be away from her for four years even if her parents were willing to raise her while Emily went to college somewhere else. So she had looked into the local universities and Princeton was one of a handful of universities that offered the courses that Emily wanted to study.

Elizabeth Prentiss was very proud of her daughter for making such a mature decision. She knew it couldn't have been easy watching her best friend get accepted to Stanford and knowing that she was going to have to stay a lot closer to home because of Katie, but Emily seemed to be handling it well. Elizabeth also knew that, in a month's time, Emily would be telling Daphne the truth about Katie, in accordance with their deal. Elizabeth just hoped that the revelation wouldn't damage their friendship.

Contrary to popular belief, the weeks leading up to graduation weren't as crazy as Emily had thought it would be. Once finals were over, there was very little left to do but wait for the grades, the class rings, the yearbooks, and the caps and gowns.

Once she finished her last final, Emily decided not to attend the last week of classes, since they were optional and mostly consisted of getting yearbooks signed by your friends and favorite teachers and squeezing the last final moments with friends before college separated them. Emily only really had Daphne and two teachers that she wanted to get to sign her yearbook so she got that out of the way early and chose to spend her final week before graduation at home with Katie.

Emily was sitting on the couch in the family room with Katie playing on the floor with her toys when the doorbell rang. Her mom was in the City at a meeting for work and her dad had gone out to the store so she was home alone with Katie.

Emily made sure Katie was engrossed in her toys before she quickly went to the door to see who it was. She opened the door and smiled when she saw that it was Daphne. She let her best friend in the house and they headed to the family room to hang out.

"So, Emily, tomorrow's the big day. You ready for it?" Daphne asked, wanting to know if she was the only one who was nervous about the graduation ceremony. Luckily, neither of them had to do anything but show up and collect their diplomas. She didn't envy the girl who had been chosen Valedictorian and had to give a speech.

Emily grinned, "Yeah, I am. I'm not going to miss high school…but I am going to miss you when you're off in California."

Daphne looked away for a moment then turned back to Emily, "Yeah, me too. It's going to be so lonely in California without you Em. Are you sure you really wanna stay here in New Jersey?" Daphne wondered if Emily's parents were pressuring her to stay close to home to help with Katie. She didn't think it was fair to make Emily stay in town to look after her baby sister, no matter how close they were.

Emily sighed, she knew the only way Daphne would understand her decision was if she knew the truth…and despite her deal with her mom, Emily decided she didn't want to wait until after graduation. They were going to walk across that stage tomorrow, so what difference did a few hours make in the grand scheme of things? Emily knew that, with both her parents out of the house, now was a good time to just tell Daphne the truth. She took a deep breath and said, "Daphne, there's something I need to tell you. It's about Katie and why I am staying in New Jersey."

Daphne looked into Emily's eyes and realized she was serious, "Okay, what is it?"

Emily found she couldn't look at Daphne while she admitted the truth, so she picked a spot on the wall just behind the blonde's shoulder and stared at it while she began talking. "Katie…isn't my sister…she's my daughter. Before we moved here, I made a stupid decision and ended up getting pregnant. My parents stood by me and we moved here where no one knew us so that I could have a chance at a normal high school experience. We made up the story about Katie being my sister mostly to protect my mom's political career as well as my reputation." Emily stopped there for a moment, giving Daphne a chance to process this new information.

Daphne turned and looked at Katie who was still engrossed in her toys and not really paying attention to them. She studied the little girl and, in light of what Emily had just told her, she began to see the similarities in Katie's facial features that seemed to hint at more than a sister connection. It became clear to the young blonde that Emily was telling her the truth, Katie really was her daughter and not her sister.

Daphne began to nod in comprehension and then she chuckled a little before turning back to Emily with a smile on her face. "So…that's why you're staying in New Jersey?"

Emily nodded, "Yeah."

Daphne shook her head in disbelief and said, "Why didn't you tell me this sooner?"

Emily sighed, "I wanted to, so many times I wanted to tell you the truth. Especially the times when you would talk about how close me and Katie seemed and how you couldn't believe I'd rather spend the night at home with her than go out to some party or to the movies. But I couldn't tell you because I couldn't risk losing your friendship if you knew the truth. That I had Katie when I was just barely 16."

Daphne took a moment to think about that one and she could, objectively speaking, see how Emily might think it would change things between them. "You should know by now Em, that you're stuck with me. I mean, if you moving away for several months didn't change things, nothing would." Daphne paused as she thought of something, "wait, so when you moved away to Italy for your mom's job and then came back in the fall with a kid sister, that was when you had Katie?"

Emily just nodded, knowing she was going to have to explain about that sooner or later.

"So that means that you were already pregnant when we became friends and those guys asked you out? Is that why you said no to them?"

Emily let out a small chuckle at that, "I said no to them because I didn't like them…and also because I was already pregnant then. I had sworn off dating anyone because of what happened the last time where I got pregnant. Dating just…wasn't a priority for me. And yes, when I went away during April vacation last year, I went not to Italy but to Atlantic City to live for the rest of my pregnancy and until Katie was born. That was when we came up with the sister story."

Daphne stood up and paced a little before she sat back down and asked, "So…where's the father?"

Emily wasn't expecting that question and she took a moment to compose herself before she answered, "The last I heard he was still in Italy with his parents. When I found out I was pregnant, I told him about it, and his only response was that I get an abortion. I went home and told my parents and realized I didn't want to get an abortion. My mom and dad stood by me. My dad's lawyer had papers drawn up that basically cut his parental rights. He happily signed the papers, glad to not be on the hook for child support or anything like that. We left Italy soon after that and moved here. Katie's father, John, will never be a part of her life."

Daphne couldn't believe what Emily was saying, "Wow, so he just signed away his rights and walked away from you and Katie?"

Emily nodded, "Yeah…though to be fair, at the time he was mostly walking away from me. Katie was still just a few weeks old fetus. But yeah, in the long run he walked away from us both."

Daphne turned again to look at Katie and her heart ached a little at the thought of anyone just walking away from the little dark haired angel. Yeah, she herself was going to California for college but she wasn't walking away from Emily and Katie. She would be back on the holidays and for summer break. Daphne had every intention of being a major part of Emily and Katie's life and knowing now that Katie was Emily's daughter, didn't change that one bit for her. She turned back to Emily with a smile on her face, "Thank you for telling me the truth. It doesn't change anything though. Like I said, you're stuck with me Emily."

Emily let out a breath she wasn't aware she was holding when she heard Daphne's reassurance. Without thinking about it, she launched herself across the sofa and hugged her best friend tightly.

Daphne returned the hug and she smiled as she allowed herself to indulge in having Emily this close to her. She was still harboring some…romantic feelings for her friend and while she might not be ready to say anything about them to Emily, it didn't mean she couldn't enjoy these moments.

Emily finally pulled away after a few moments and she turned to look at her daughter. Katie carefully stood up and walked over to Emily. She placed a hand on Emily's knee and smiled up at her mama. "Mama, nom nom."

Emily grinned, 'nom nom' was Katie's way of saying she was hungry. Emily picked her daughter up and stood up from the couch. She turned to Daphne, "I'm going to get Katie a snack, wanna join me?"

Daphne nodded and stood up too. Together, Emily and Daphne brought Katie into the kitchen and Emily placed Katie into her high chair while she got out a snack for her daughter.

Before too long, Emily and Daphne were also enjoying a snack as Katie began to feed each of them from her bowl of Cherrios.

It was a nice afternoon, spent playing with Katie and then just talking about their future plans once Katie went down for her nap. By the time Daphne left, Emily's parents were home and Emily felt much better about the future now that Daphne knew the truth about Katie.

Emily went to bed that night with a smile on her face as she thought about what the future might hold for the three of them.

The graduation ceremony went off without a hitch. The speeches by the Principal, the Valedictorian and two guest speakers were long and dull but Emily got through it by thinking about what would happen later that night. Her parents were taking care of Katie so that Daphne and Emily could have one last night to party and celebrate graduating. Daphne would be leaving for a summer immersion program at Stanford before beginning her freshman year, in a few days and Emily wanted to spend some extra time with her friend before she left.

Once the final name had been called and the student walked across the stage to grab his diploma, the ceremony concluded with one last brief speech by the Vice Principal before they were released onto the world.

Emily, Katie and her parents were gathered around her dad's car when Daphne came up to them, her own parents trailing behind her. The adults greeted each other warmly, the years of having their daughters be best friends had worked to allow them to get to know each other. Daphne's dad was a big fan of William Prentiss' books.

Emily and Daphne hugged and Daphne picked up Katie and hugged her too. Soon, pictures were being taken and everyone was in a pretty good mood. Emily made sure to get a picture of herself with Daphne and one of Daphne with Katie and of course, one of the three of them together.

Elizabeth took the picture of the three of them and, as she looked through the camera's viewfinder, she couldn't help but notice how much they looked like a family. She took the picture and then shook those thoughts out of her head.

Before too long, both families left the parking lot of the hall where the ceremony had taken place and headed home. It was only five pm and Emily and Daphne were set to meet up around eight. That gave Emily three hours to change clothes and make sure Katie was fed and down for the night before she left to pick Daphne up for their night of fun.

Once Katie was safely in dreamland, Emily took a quick shower and got dressed in jeans and a t shirt before she said a quick goodbye and thank you to her parents and sailed out the door. Tonight was hopefully, going to be a night to remember for both of them.

Emily pulled up to the curb by Daphne's house and wasn't surprised to see her best friend waiting on her porch. There was still some sunlight out so Emily just watched as Daphne walked to the car and got in.

Once she had her seatbelt fastened, Daphne turned to Emily, "So Em, where are we going?"

Emily had kept the details of their celebration a secret, simply telling her friend to dress casually and to be ready by eight. Emily smiled at Daphne and just said, "You'll see…it's a surprise."

Daphne, trusting Emily completely, simply shrugged and said, "Okay then. Let's get on with it."

Emily grinned and put the car in drive and drove away. She hopped on the highway a few minutes later and soon she was taking an exit that would lead to their destination. Emily drove confidently but quietly, not willing to risk conversation and have her secret plan leak out.

Daphne just went with it and decided to play with the radio, willing to let Emily have her secrets as long as she needed to, knowing Emily would soon show her what she had planned.

Emily turned onto a private drive and soon was parking in front of a rustic-looking cabin. She turned off the engine and turned to Daphne. "We're here."

Daphne looked around through the windshield and noticed they were in the woods, and the house before them had only the porch light on. She turned to Emily, "Where exactly is here?"

Emily grinned, "This cabin belongs to a friend of my dad's and he agreed to let us use it for the night when I asked him. He said, graduation is a big deal and if we weren't going to be joining all the other wild parties going on tonight, the least he could do was give us a place to celebrate our own way. So, he gave me the keys this morning and told me it was all ready for us. Come on."

Emily got out of the car and walked around to Daphne's door, which was still closed. Emily opened it and looked down at her friend, "What's the matter?"

Daphne looked from the cabin to Emily and back to the cabin. She took a deep breath mentally scolding herself for being such an idiot. Her initial thought when she saw the secluded cabin was that, out here in the middle of nowhere, she might not be able to control her feelings for Emily and she might end up saying or doing something that she wouldn't be able to take back. She shook her head and smiled, "Nothing, just taking it all in." With that, she stepped out of the car and walked towards the cabin.

Emily closed and locked the car then followed Daphne to the cabin. They reached the front door and Emily unlocked it and let Daphne go in first. Emily followed and turned to lock the door. When she turned back to look at Daphne, she could see the blonde looking all around.

The cabin was fairly big, with a great room, a kitchen, three bedrooms, and two bathrooms. It had central heating and air conditioning and a fireplace in the great room. Emily took Daphne's hand and led her to the couch in front of the fireplace. They sat down and Emily just smiled, "So…do you like your surprise?"

Daphne took one last look around the room and then turned back to Emily, "Yeah…I do. So is there any food or drinks here?"

Emily laughed and said, "Oh yeah. Everything we could need. You relax and I'll get us something to eat okay?"

Daphne nodded and leaned back into the couch, enjoying the plushness of the cushions. She looked around again and, against her better judgment, her mind began conjuring up images of the things she wanted to do with Emily in this cabin. The couch, the deep plush carpet just in front of the fireplace both became ideal places to make out and make love with Emily. She thought about the bedrooms this place must have and again began picturing herself and Emily entwined, naked, on crisp white sheets. She knew it was never going to happen but that didn't stop her traitorous mind from creating the images, or her body from reacting to them.

Emily went to the kitchen and began to pull together some sandwiches and chips. She was about to reach for the soda when something caught her eye in the corner of the kitchen. She moved closer and realized it was a liquor cabinet…and it wasn't locked. She opened the doors and saw the options. There was vodka, whiskey, rum, and a few bottles of wine. Emily donned an evil grin as she reached for one of the bottles of wine, a Chardonnay, and quickly uncorked it and poured some into two wine glasses she'd found.

Tonight, they were going to have wine with their 'dinner' and Emily wasn't going to worry about the consequences. Her parents had already agreed to watch Katie until the morning and Daphne's parents had also agreed to let Daphne stay out all night, it was graduation after all.

Emily put everything on a tray and carried it back out to the great room. She placed the tray on the coffee table and handed Daphne one of the wine glasses. She lifted hers in a toast, "To graduation and the future."

Daphne nodded and clinked her glass with Emily's before taking a sip of the wine. She knew she probably shouldn't be drinking alcohol, that it would only lower her defenses and increase the odds that she would make a move on Emily, but she didn't care in that moment. She had decided to just let it all go and enjoy the night.

Several hours, and two bottles of wine later, they were on the couch just enjoying to mellow feeling the wine was giving them. During the course of the evening, they had moved closer together until there was no room between them. Now they were on the couch, just drinking their wine and listening to the music that Emily had turned on a few hours ago.

Emily lifted her head and turned to look at Daphne, "You know, there's something else I wanted to tell you before you left for California."

Daphne turned to look at Emily. "Oh yeah? What's that?"

"This." Without warning or really much thought behind it, Emily leaned forward and pressed her lips to Daphne's. She kissed her best friend for a few seconds before she pulled away and looked at Daphne, waiting for her to say something.

With the wine buzzing through her veins and lowering her inhibitions, Daphne opted not to say anything. Instead, she moved forward and kissed Emily.

Emily, while surprised, wasn't about to let this opportunity pass her by…not after all the months she'd spent trying to convince herself that what she was feeling for her best friend was wrong. Daphne was kissing her back and Emily planned to enjoy every moment of it.

Before long, Daphne pressed forward and soon had Emily on her back on the couch. They stretched out together on the couch and their legs entwined as their lips continued their exploration of each other's mouths. Emily opened her mouth and let her tongue play against Daphne's lips for a moment before the blonde got the hint and allowed her entrance.

Tongues dueled for dominance but Emily soon surrendered to Daphne. Hands soon began to wander and Emily sighed when Daphne's hand closed around her breast. Emily's own hands had found their way to Daphne's ass and she squeezed lightly as she brought Daphne more snugly against her.

At this point, Emily knew she wouldn't be able to stop herself if Daphne didn't stop her. Emily suddenly wanted more…she wanted to make love to Daphne and so she pulled out of the kiss to give Daphne the choice of continuing to the bedroom or stopping now. It was an option she never really had with John and she didn't want to do anything that Daphne might regret in the morning.

"Daphne, I…I wanna take you back to the bedroom and make love with you…but if you're not ready or you don't want to, you need to tell me now, please?"

Daphne lifted herself on her arms enough to look into Emily's eyes. She was a virgin but she knew that she wanted her first time to be with Emily. She wanted this as much as Emily seemed to and so she smiled, "Emily, I want this…I want you. Let's go find that bedroom." Daphne lifted herself off the

couch and reached a hand down to help Emily up.

Emily stood up and felt all the blood in her body rush south at Daphne's words. She took Daphne's hand and led her to the back hallway where the bedrooms were. They walked into the master bedroom and paused a moment to really appreciate the king sized, four poster bed in the center of the room.

Emily slowly led Daphne to the side of the bed and she leaned in and kissed her again. As they got lost in the kiss, clothes began to fall away until they were naked in front of each other. Emily took a step back and took a moment to take in and admire the sight of her best friend and soon to be lover. Daphne was absolutely gorgeous and Emily, knowing Daphne was a virgin, felt doubly blessed that she was being given this special gift.

Emily drew the sheets back on the bed and slipped under them before she pulled Daphne down next to her. She rolled over until she was hovering over the blond. In a moment of clarity, Emily realized something and she knew she couldn't continue until she told Daphne, "I love you."

Emily lowered her head and kissed Daphne, not giving her a chance to respond, because she didn't need to know how Daphne felt about her, she just needed Daphne to know how she felt.

Emily began planting kisses down Daphne's neck, nipping and licking and she even managed to leave a good sized hickey on her shoulder before she moved lower to Daphne's breasts.

Daphne's mind was spinning with the sensations that Emily's lips were causing. She wanted to let herself go completely but first she needed to say something. She reached down and pulled Emily head up to hers so she could look into her eyes. When she had Emily's attention she whispered, "I love you too Emily."

Emily kissed her again before she resumed her task of making love to Daphne. Knowing Daphne loved her too had her smiling the whole time. Emily knew in that moment that nothing and no one else would ever come close to Daphne in her heart.

The rest of the night was spent learning and exploring each other's bodies. They spent the whole night making love, and it wasn't until the first streaks of sunlight began to light the sky that they finally managed to fall asleep. Emily lay behind Daphne one arm wrapped around her waist and the other under the pillow, one leg draped over Daphne's. It had been a perfect night together and before Emily succumbed to the Sandman, her final thought was that she could see herself spending the rest of her life with Daphne and Katie…as a family.

Several hours later, Emily woke up and found Daphne awake and looking at her. She smiled and said, "Good morning."

"Good morning. Sleep well?"

"Yeah, I did. You?"

Daphne grinned, "Oh yeah…especially since I was next to you. I love you Emily."

Emily felt her heart melt, "I love you too." She paused a moment before asking what she knew would be the make or break question, "So…are you…okay with everything that happened last night?"

Daphne took a moment to give the question some honest consideration. She didn't regret anything about last night. Her only regret was that she was leaving soon for California and college. "Yeah, I am. Are you?"

Emily smiled, "Yeah…I just wish you weren't leaving for college tomorrow."

"Me too." Daphne wished now she had applied to an East Coast school but it was too late. She was driving to California so that she would have her car in California. Her parents had surprised her with a car a few days before graduation.

There were a few moments of silence as each girl thought about what it would mean to be separated so soon after discovering this new facet of their relationship. Emily wondered if it was fair of her to want a long distance relationship with Daphne. Daphne was going off to college in a new place and she would be meeting new people and finding out who she was, Emily didn't want to hold Daphne back from anything in California. Plus, there was Katie to consider. Emily knew that any relationship she entered into would have to include her daughter and while Daphne genuinely cared for Katie, Emily wondered if that would be enough. Daphne was still young enough to find someone else, someone who didn't already have a child. She still had time to realize that this wasn't what she really wanted. Emily didn't want to be the reason that Daphne missed out on anything because she was tied to a girlfriend and a kid.

Daphne was looking at Emily and seeing practically every thought telegraphed in her face. Emily didn't really have a poker face and Daphne was glad for that, because she had never been much of a mind reader. She could see that Emily was thinking about things that were too heavy for this early in the day.

Emily turned to Daphne, "I think…given that you're leaving for California tomorrow, that we should keep what happened last night to just last night. Daphne, I don't ever want to be the reason you miss out on anything in college. So how about we just stay friends and if, when you come back for summer vacation, we still feel the same…we'll go from there?"

Daphne thought about what Emily was saying and, while she didn't think being with Emily would hold her back or make her miss out on anything, she could see the logic behind Emily's words. They were going to be 3000 miles apart with only letters and the occasional phone call to connect them. It wasn't fair to either of them. Daphne knew that the feelings she had for Emily weren't ever going to go away but she also knew that the only way she was going to prove that to her dark haired friend was to go along with Emily's suggestion and come back next summer ready to woo Emily back.

"For the record, my love for you isn't ever going to go away. But I can see that you need this to convince you of that so, okay. We'll go back to being just friends and next summer, when I come back here, you and me…we'll try again." Daphne leaned closer and sealed their deal with a kiss before she left the bed and gathered her clothes and went into the master bathroom to take a shower and get dressed. She knew if she stayed in that warm bed, naked, with Emily she wouldn't be able to resist the temptation to have Emily again.

Emily lay in the bed and watched as Daphne left the room. She knew she was doing the right thing, but that didn't mean she had to like it. She wanted nothing more than to join Daphne in that shower and just allow their relationship to develop but she knew that wasn't an option. She had to be the grown up here, because she was the one with a kid, and not be selfish.

Emily got out of the bed and took her clothes to the other bathroom to shower and get dressed, stubbornly ignoring the ache in her chest at the thought of what could've been.

Emily dropped Daphne off at her house a few hours later and they said their goodbyes for the day. Tomorrow, when Daphne left for California, they would have another chance to say a proper goodbye but for now, they both chose to keep it casual.

Emily waited until Daphne was inside her house before she pulled away and headed home.

She got home and the minute she walked in the door she was attacked by a tiny blur of giggling fun as Katie launched herself at her mama. Emily grabbed her daughter and held her close. She had missed her little girl and she really needed a hug right then.

Emily carried Katie into the family room where her dad was sitting watching television. It was obvious by the toys scattered around the floor that he was mostly keeping an eye on Katie.

Emily greeted her dad and after a few minutes, he left the room and headed back to his typewriter, now that Emily was home to watch Katie. Emily's mom was already at work in the City so it was just the three of them in the house. Emily was relieved that she wouldn't have to explain to anyone how her night had gone. Her dad would be too engrossed in his latest novel and her mother wasn't going to be home until late.

Emily spent the rest of the day playing with her daughter and trying not to think about what tomorrow would bring when Daphne drove away.

Daphne spent the rest of the day thinking about Emily as she packed the few last minute things she would need for college. She also loaded up the car and got it ready for the next day. She was leaving fairly early in the morning to beat the traffic out of the city and onto the highway. She figured it would take her about 3 or 4 days to drive cross country. She had plenty of money from her parents for hotel rooms and food along the way as well as a credit card for emergencies and once she got to California she would check into the school and get her dorm assignment and she'd be pretty much all set. She would get a job to cover expenses but her tuition was already taken care of thanks to her scholarship and her parents.

The summer program was fairly exclusive and it was an honor to be chosen to attend. It was six months of classes compressed into two months. It was intense and competitive but it also gave you an edge when the fall semester started. It was a way to knock off some of the general education credits early so you could focus on your major more intensely.

The next morning, Emily and Katie were standing in Daphne's driveway waiting as the blonde said her goodbyes to her parents.

Emily didn't like the idea of Daphne moving so far away but she knew there was nothing to be done about it now.

Daphne gave her mom one last hug before she turned and walked over to Emily and Katie. When she reached them, Daphne pulled them both into a group hug.

When she pulled away she turned first to Katie, "Goodbye Katie. I'll see you next summer okay baby girl?"

Katie looked at Daphne and grinned before she leaned closer and hugged her again, planting a wet sloppy kiss on Daphne's cheek. It was Katie's personal seal of approval.

Daphne then turned to Emily, "As for you, I'll be seeing you soon." She raised her hand to Emily's cheek, "I know we said just friends, but I can't help how I feel. So, I'm going to kiss you and then I'm going to get in this car and drive away while I still can, okay?"

Without waiting for a response, Daphne leaned closer and kissed Emily. It was a sweet, chaste kiss, nothing like what she wanted to give her but given the circumstances, it was the best she could do. She pulled away and with a final whispered, "I love you Emily. Goodbye." Daphne got into her car and started the engine. Emily moved out of the way of the car and watched with tears in her eyes as Daphne drove away. Emily stood there, silently vowing to one day have a future with Daphne…not knowing at the time that that was going to be the last time she ever saw her friend.


Chapter 9

August 1989

It was two weeks until Emily started the fall semester at Princeton and she was excited, but her joy was tempered by the fact that, apart from a few postcards from the road, she hadn't heard from Daphne for over a month now. She tried not to get too worried about it, figuring that her friend was probably busy with her summer program and with the time difference between the East Coast and the West Coast, she could understand the lack of communication. Still, a part of her really wished Daphne would call her or send her a letter.

Luckily, Katie was a great distraction from her worries. Her daughter was almost 2 years old and Emily had her hands full taking care of her, especially now that she was walking all over the house.

Without the distraction of school this summer, Emily had spent more and more time with Katie, just the two of them. Her mom had gone back to working full days at the Federal Building where she worked when she was stateside. Her father had taken to locking himself in the basement office all day finishing his latest book, only emerging for meals and bathroom breaks until after 7 when he stopped for the night.

Emily and Katie had developed a routine for the summer break that included plenty of time for playing in the yard and watching cartoons.

One Friday morning, Emily was in the kitchen cleaning up after their breakfast while Katie watched cartoons in the family room when the phone rang. Emily wiped her hands dry on a towel and walked over to the phone on the wall.


"Emily, dear, I was wondering if you and Katie wanted to come into the city and join me for lunch. I'm taking a half day and was hoping we could have a fun afternoon together in the city, what do you say?" Elizabeth, when faced with the reality of being able to leave the office early, had jumped at it and quickly decided to make the most of it by having her adorable granddaughter finally see where she worked.

Emily smiled at the thought of spending the afternoon in the city. "Yeah that sounds good, hang on." Emily put her hand over the speaker on the handset and called out to Katie to join her in the kitchen. Emily watched as Katie walked into the kitchen, smiling as she came closer. "Katie, you wanna go see Nana at her job?"

Katie took a second to reply, as if she was seriously thinking about it then she smiled, "Yeah! See nana!"

Emily giggled at her daughter's enthusiasm. She turned back to the phone, "Well, the princess has spoken. We'll be there around noon, okay?"

Elizabeth held in her laughter at hearing her granddaughter's response, "That sounds perfect, see you both then."

Emily hung up the phone then turned to her daughter, "Okay Katie-bug, we're gonna go see nana in a few hours. Go watch tv for a bit while I finish here then we'll get dressed to go sound good?"

Katie just nodded, still smiling as she turned and ran back to the family room. Emily smiled as she watched her daughter run off then she finished her cleaning up.

Before she went to get Katie to get her dressed, she turned to the door leading to the basement and walked halfway down the stairs. She got her dad's attention and filled him in on the plan to go into the city. He smiled and nodded, acknowledging that the house would be empty before he turned back to his typewriter and continued writing.

Emily shook her head, smiling at her dad's focus, before she walked back up the stairs and got Katie to get dressed.

Emily walked down the corridor towards her mom's office, holding Katie's hand to make sure the little girl didn't run off on her own. She got to her mom's door and knocked, she heard her mom's voice saying to come in and she opened the door to let Katie in first.

Katie saw her nana and she broke into a run right towards her. Emily let her go, knowing she was safe in this room, and turned to close the door behind her.

Elizabeth grabbed her granddaughter up as she got close enough and hugged her. Emily took a moment to just watch her usually reserved mother laughing and playing with Katie. It was a nice sight to see and Emily loved seeing it whenever the two of them were together.

Emily and Katie spend about 20 minutes in Elizabeth's office while her mom finished up some last minute business that couldn't be put off until Monday.

There was a knock at the door and Elizabeth fought to compose herself as she called out for the person on the other side to enter. At this point, Katie was sitting on the floor next to the coffee table by the couch in the corner, coloring on some scrap paper and softly singing to herself the latest song that Emily had been playing in the car on the ride over. Katie had a real ear for music and she could often pick up lyrics after only a few times hearing a song. It amused Elizabeth and Emily to hear Katie singing 'Borderline' or 'Time After Time'.

Emily turned to the door as a serious looking man walked in, holding a folder in one hand. He was tall with dark, close cropped hair and dark eyes. He looked like he never smiled.

Elizabeth turned her attention to the man and said, "Hello Special Agent Hotchner, I don't think you've met my daughter yet, this is Emily. Emily this is Special Agent Aaron Hotchner, of the FBI. He was assigned to run a few security checks on my staff, I'm taking on a few new people and they need to be vetted. Emily is off to Princeton this fall."

Elizabeth paused, giving Emily and Agent Hotchner time to greet each other.

"It's a pleasure to meet you Miss Prentiss. Congratulations on Princeton, that's a really great school." Aaron turned towards the toddler who had stopped coloring long enough to look at the new man in the room before smiling at him and turning back to her picture. "Is this your sister?"

Emily turned to her mom who nodded imperceptibly before she said, "Actually yes, this is my other daughter Katie."

Aaron nodded and cracked a half smile at the little girl.

"So, are those the final reports?" Elizabeth motioned to the folder he was carrying, not wanting to get into any further talk about Katie with the agent.

Aaron turned towards the Ambassador and nodded curtly, "Yes ma'am. I think you'll be pleased with the results. Your full staff has been cleared and given approval by the director to work for you." He handed the folder over to the woman and waited.

Elizabeth flipped through the folder, her eyes falling on all the important areas to confirm what he'd just told her. After a moment she noticed he was still standing there. She looked up at him, "Was there something else Agent?"

Aaron shifted a bit, not accustomed to having to ask a civilian to leave the room and not sure how to bring it up with regards to his, temporary, boss's daughters. "Um, yes ma'am. Regarding the classified file you asked me to compile. I have some information on that but…well…" He paused and glanced at Emily briefly.

Emily took the hint and taking pity on the young agent, she stood up, "That's okay Agent Hotchner, I understand. Mother, how about I take Katie to the car and we'll wait for you, sound good?"

Elizabeth relaxed a bit, having realized what Agent Hotchner was referring to and not wanting Emily to know about it, "Yes thank you. Once I'm done here I'm leaving. I'll be down soon."

Emily nodded and gathered Katie and her things up and they left the room. They were halfway down the

hall when she realized she forgot to tell her mother where she was parked. Emily debated for a moment about going back but then the decision was taken out of her hands as Katie wriggled free from her hand and ran back to her nana's office. Emily followed her and silently caught her just before she reached the door. The door wasn't closed completely and Emily caught a bit of the conversation. She was about to turn away when she heard something that rooted her to the spot.

"Ma'am, the preliminary searches didn't turn up anything on the whereabouts of Miss Morris, however, after you provided us with the credit card information that her parents provided, as well as a photograph of the girl, my team was able to determine that Miss Morris was last seen in Las Vegas. The credit card that her parents gave her 'for emergencies' was used at a motel off the main strip for two nights, after that, it was used at one of the smaller casinos for a cash advance of two thousand dollars. That is the last recorded activity on the card, other than the payments the Morris' have been making on the account."

Elizabeth took a moment, "So, after that, there's no trace of the girl?"

Aaron shook his head, "Not one we can trace. Of course we've set up an alert on the card, in case it's used again, but I doubt that's going to happen. This girl has gone off the grid, whether it was by choice or by force is not known at this time." He paused a moment, "It may never be known ma'am, unless Miss Morris turns up…one way or another." He didn't like having to place the idea in her head that this girl might be dead, but he knew it had to be done, to prepare her for that possibility.

Elizabeth didn't want to think about the possibility that Daphne Morris might be dead, but she knew it was stupid to not allow for that possibility. She sincerely hoped the young blonde wasn't dead. "What about Stanford, any news from there?"

Aaron shook his head, "No ma'am. Stanford's admissions office has no record of her checking in for their summer program. They are holding her spot for the fall semester, on the off chance that she was…delayed in arriving and shows up for registration." Aaron paused again and finally decided to just ask the question that had been bothering him since he'd been given the task of finding this young girl. "Ma'am, if I may, what is your connection to this girl?"

Elizabeth looked at him, confused, "Why do you ask?"

Aaron cleared his throat, "Ma'am, your position in the State Department, as well as your standing on the world stage, could be compromised if there is an…inappropriate liaison with this young girl. I just wouldn't want to see this jeopardize your work." Aaron had seen a few of his superiors brought down by a scandal or even a rumor that involved underage girls. He didn't want something like that to happen to Ambassador Prentiss.

Elizabeth relaxed, actually a little touched the young agent would care about her reputation. "There's no need to worry Agent Hotchner. Miss Morris is my daughter's best friend and like another daughter to me. Her parents know I have connections in law enforcement and asked me to look into the situation when they stopped hearing from her. I'm simply helping a friend find her daughter."

Aaron nodded. "Yes ma'am. I'm sorry I couldn't bring you better news."

"You can't bring what doesn't exist Agent Hotchner. Thank you for your hard work."

Aaron knew when his time was up and he turned towards the door. "Thank you for your time ma'am. I'll keep you apprised of any new developments."

Aaron opened the door and walked into the hall, taking a left towards the elevator that would take him two floors down to his office. He had an uneasy feeling about the Morris girl.

Emily was sitting in her car with Katie in the car seat as she tried to absorb the information she'd overheard. She left the hall outside her mother's office right around the time the agent asked her mom what her connection to Daphne was, not needing to hear any more at that point, and not wanting to get caught eavesdropping.

She was interrupted from her thoughts as she noticed her mom tapping on the passenger side window. Emily unlocked the car and let her mom into the car.

Before too long they were driving out of the parking garage and headed to the small restaurant that her mom had directed her to for their lunch. Emily resolved to put thoughts of what her mom had been talking about with Agent Hotchner out of her mind until she was alone again to really process it. In the meantime, she decided to enjoy her day with her mom and her daughter.

By the time classes started for Emily at Princeton, she was determined to walk her own path and find out what happened to Daphne. But first, she needed an education and she needed to make sure Katie was safe as well. Emily decided that the only way she'd be able to gain access to the files and information that Agent Hotchner had gathered for her mother was to join the FBI herself and access them. Her mother wasn't about to hand them over, not if she was still doing this in secret and she knew Agent Hotchner wouldn't tell her anything either. No, the only way for her to gain the knowledge she needed to begin her own search for Daphne was to become a federal agent. It wasn't her dream from childhood, but it was a respectable profession and one in which she could help others while she was looking for her friend.

So, Emily declared Criminal Justice as her major and began taking the required classes. She was determined to graduate with her B.S. in Criminal Justice and then apply to the Academy the following fall. She had a plan and all she had to do was follow it.

She also decided that, when she finished the academy she would request the New Jersey field office as her assignment so she could stay close to Katie and not have to pull her out of school.

She talked it over with her dad and he agreed that, if she was still determined to join the academy when she graduated, he would take care of Katie while she was in DC training. Her mother, while not a fan of Emily's choice, still supported her.

Emily was soon on her way to becoming a federal agent.

Part 10

Return to Criminal Minds Fiction

Return to Main Page