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 10

November 2006

It was the day after Halloween and Special Agent Emily Prentiss was sitting at her desk in the bullpen of the DC FBI Field office and she was…a little bored. Halloween had offered little excitement for the dark haired woman. Local law enforcement had handled the usual mischief of the holiday and Emily had spent the evening sitting in her condo waiting for the trick or treaters that would inevitably find their way to her door.

She used to love Halloween, but ever since her daughter Katie had turned 15, the shine had gone off the night. Until that year, she would get dressed up and take Katie out trick or treating in whatever costume the young girl had chosen for that year and they'd had a great time. But when Katie had turned 15, she'd come under the influence of her friends who convinced her trick or treating was for 'babies' and so had ended a fun tradition.

So now, Emily spent Halloween handing out candy and catching up on paperwork while Katie usually attended a party or some other event. Emily hated letting go of her little girl but she also understood that it was inevitable so she put on a brave face and went with it.

This year, Katie had attended a party at one of the frat houses on campus. Emily trusted her daughter to act responsibly, even on Halloween, so she hadn't worried about her more than any parent would when they heard 'frat party'.

Emily sat at her desk on November first and thought back on the last seventeen years of her life and how much had changed for her and her daughter.

Emily had graduated with honors from Princeton with a B.S in Criminal Justice and a minor in Forensic Psychology. Her father had kept up his end of their deal and had taken care of Katie for the 21 weeks that she was away at the FBI academy. Emily had graduated the Academy with her pick of assignments and while she'd been tempted to request the Las Vegas office to pick up her search for Daphne, she knew the smarter move was to request the New Jersey office to stay close to her daughter.

Emily had taken a desk job in the small Paterson, New Jersey field office, mostly pushing papers around at the office and sifting through the, pitifully thin, file she'd managed to get a copy of that detailed Daphne's missing person case.

In 2000, she heard that the Quantico headquarters was going to be the host site for the Behavioral Analysis Unit and when she found out what they did and the access they had to information and files, she realized that was the unit she would have to join to continue her search for Daphne.

So, she quietly took the profiling classes when they were offered at the New York office and made the commute into the City for them.

When Katie had been accepted to Georgetown University on a full academic scholarship, Emily realized that she would have nothing holding her in New Jersey anymore. Her mother had resumed her full workload after Emily had graduated from college and her father had joined her at her postings after Emily had finished the academy.

Emily smiled as she remembered the conversation she'd had with Katie three days after she'd gotten the acceptance packet from Georgetown.

August 2005

"Mom, can I talk to you?" Katie Prentiss stood in the doorway of her mother's home office, which was once her grandmother's home office when she still lived there with them, nervously playing with her long black hair.

Emily Prentiss looked up from the papers on her desk and smiled, "Of course Katie. Come in and sit down." Emily put the papers aside and gave her daughter her full attention. She could hardly believe her little girl was almost 18. It seemed like only yesterday that she brought her home from the hospital.

Katie sat on the couch to the right of her mom's desk, still close enough to talk comfortably. She looked at her mom, "Okay well, you know how I got into Georgetown, right?"

Emily just nodded, "Yeah…" She was wondering where this was going.

Katie took a breath, "Well…it's just that…the most we've ever lived apart was when you were at the FBI academy and Grandpa took care of me and even that was only for 21 weeks. This is going to be for at least 9 months at a time. Maybe more if I get a job or an internship in DC for the summer and…I was wondering if you might consider…moving to DC maybe?"

Emily had to take a moment to digest what Katie had just asked her. She hadn't been expecting it. "Um…I thought you wanted to live in the dorms and have a real college experience. Won't living with me in DC kind of ruin that?"

Katie grinned as she shook her head, "No, I mean…I wasn't asking you to move to DC so I could live with you. I'd still live in the dorms but…" She shrugged her shoulders as she looked down at her hands, suddenly a little shy, "I just thought that, if you lived in DC then we could spend weekends together and…I'd have a place to maybe go if the dorms ever get too loud or crazy to study, ya know?" Katie stopped then, hoping her mom would understand without her having to explain it more…she wasn't sure she really could without admitting she was a little scared to be completely on her own in a strange town.

For the majority of her life, it had been her and her mom. Her grandparents had been there for the first eight years of her life but then they'd moved away for her grandma's work so it had just been the two of them. Katie was much closer to her mom than most of her friends were with their moms because of how she grew up. It had been the two of them for the last ten years and she wasn't ready to change that yet.

Emily thought about what Katie wasn't saying, using the skills she learned in her profiling classes to realize that her little girl might be leaving the nest, but she wanted to keep it nearby in case she needed to return. Emily could certainly understand that and so she nodded.

"I think I can do that. I just have to arrange a transfer to the DC office and then find an apartment. Shouldn't be a problem sweetie." Emily already knew that if she wanted a post in DC it was hers. Her supervisor had already gotten several requests from the DC office for her…mostly because of who her mother was and she'd always politely declined because she didn't want to get ahead on her mother's name but also because she didn't want to pull Katie out of school. But now, it was perfect timing. Emily had plenty of family money that finding a place to live wouldn't be a problem.

Katie grinned, "Thanks mom." She went over to her mom and hugged her. "Well I gotta get going, Lacey and Marcia are expecting me soon. We're going to the movies, is that okay?"

Despite being a month shy of 18, Katie still asked permission for most things, knowing that until she was officially 18, she was still under her mom's 'law'.

Emily nodded, "That's fine honey."

Katie left the room and headed for the car in the driveway. It was Emily's first car and she'd passed it down to Katie when she'd gotten her license. Emily now drove a black Mustang.

Emily watched Katie leave before she picked up the phone on her desk and dialed her supervisor's private line. After a brief conversation, she had her transfer in the works and would be expected to report to the DC office in 2 weeks. She was given those two weeks to find a place in DC and move before she reported for duty.

Now, a year later, Emily was working in the DC office, mostly at a desk but also in the field whenever possible. She wanted field experience now that she was in DC. She had started applying for every open slot in the BAU about two months after she moved to DC. So far, no luck.

It was almost 3 in the afternoon when Emily noticed a new email in her inbox. It was marked important and was from someone named Strauss. Emily opened it and she had to mask her excitement when she read the email. It was her dream come true, her transfer to the BAU, effective November 13, 2006.

Emily couldn't believe it, she was finally getting her chance to find the answers she searched for, for so long. But first, she had to prove herself to the team to gain acceptance.

Emily went home that day and she looked up the recent cases that the BAU had been involved in as well as a few that were pending. She was determined to walk into her meeting with the unit leader fully prepared.

The night before she was to report to the BAU, Emily had dinner with Katie at her condo. It was their weekend tradition and Emily loved having this time with her daughter.

They were eating in the living room as they watched Law and Order episodes from Emily's DVR. In the lull between episodes, Katie turned to her mom, "So, tomorrow's the big day huh?"

Emily smiled at her daughter, "Yeah. Can't wait."

Katie smiled, she'd known for a while that her mom wanted to join the elite BAU and she was happy for her. She bit her lip after a moment as she thought about how to ask what she really wanted to know.

Finally she just bit the bullet and asked, "Are you, um…are you still going to look into…the case?"

Katie avoided mentioning Daphne's name to her mom whenever possible. It was really the only thing she'd seen so far that could crack her mother's calm façade. She didn't exactly remember the woman who'd been her mother's best friend, but she'd heard stories about her from her grandpa and she'd seen the papers her mom had often left out my mistake.

Something about this Daphne woman had stayed with her mom all these years and she wondered if the questions her mom had would ever be answered.

Emily turned to face her daughter and just nodded, "Yes I am. This transfer doesn't change that, if anything it will make the search easier since the BAU has more access to information than any other branch of the FBI. But, I'll also be working the active cases with the team so I won't have time to lose myself again. I promise honey, I won't disappear again." Emily had never physically disappeared but there'd been a few weeks where she thought she had a solid lead and she had lost herself in the case and hadn't been there for Katie. Luckily, it wasn't for very long and she had managed to repair any damage to their relationship.

Katie nodded, knowing her mom was being honest. She grinned in an effort to lighten the mood, "So does this mean I get to call you Emily again?"

Emily chuckled. In order to keep her private life to herself, whenever it couldn't be avoided and Katie had met some of her co-workers, Emily had introduced Katie as her sister. When Katie heard Emily do that, she knew to call her Emily and not reveal the truth. But if Emily introduced her as her daughter, she knew she could call her mom.

They had established their 'code' when Katie was 7 and starting school. Most times, Emily was open about their relationship but occasionally, usually with people she worked with, Emily felt the need to hide their true connection. Katie had taken it in stride, understanding even at a young age that sometimes it was better to lie than have to explain the truth. Plus, she got to call her mom by her first name and she thought that was cool.

"If the time ever comes when you have to meet someone from the BAU, you might have to fall back on that old habit. But I'll try not to make that happen too soon, okay?"

Katie nodded, "Okay mom."

After that, they went back to enjoying their mini marathon until it was time to go to bed. Katie usually crashed at Emily's Sunday night and went right to class from there. She had her own bedroom and a full closet of clothes.

They said their good nights and turned in. Emily lay down and sighed, a little nervous about the next day and meeting the BAU members for the first time. She was walking into an established team that worked very well together and now she was going to have to prove herself and prove she belonged there. It was a daunting task but she was up for it. There was no going back now, she was determined to see this through to the end. She just hoped the unit chief wasn't a dickhead who would resent a new team member…especially a woman.


Chapter 11

The next morning, Emily was up and dressed and out the door by nine am. Katie watched her leave with a smile on her face. It was rare to see her mom even a little bit nervous so this was a treat for her. She was glad her first class wasn't until eleven so she could take her time getting ready.

Emily grabbed the small banker's box that contained the few personal items she liked to keep at her desk out of the passenger seat of her Mustang and made her way into the federal building which housed the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit.

She stepped off the elevator and, luckily, caught a tall, dark skinned man on his way inside the glass doors and he held it open for her with a polite smile. Emily thanked him, asked him where the unit chief's office was and headed in the direction the man had pointed.

Emily reached the door and, after putting a friendly smile on her face looked up at the name plaque and she relaxed only a tiny bit when she recognized the name: SSA Aaron Hotchner.

Emily balanced the box on her hip so she could free up a hand to knock on the door.

"Come in." A deep, serious voice called from the other side of the door.

Emily opened the door and, smiling, said, "Hi, Agent Hotchner?"

"Yes." The man looked up and Emily remembered what he looked like so long ago. He had aged well.

Emily placed the box on the corner of his desk and held out her hand, "I'm Agent Emily Prentiss."

"How do you do?" Agent Hotchner shook her hand, a little confused as to who she was and why she was there but he soon remembered why her name was familiar. "Oh, you're Ambassador Prentiss' daughter. I did security clearances for your mother's staff, it was one of my first commands. I believe you were about to go off to…Brown at the time, I think."

"Actually, it was Princeton." Agent Hotchner nodded at the correction but didn't say anything. "I've been in the Bureau for almost 12 years now."

Agent Hotchner seemed to do the math in his head and he chuckled at how long it had been, "Don't tell me that, has it been that long?"

"Apparently, sir. But I worked mostly in the New Jersey office, until a year ago when I transferred to the DC office."

"Good." Hotchner stopped, not sure what to else to say, then he thought to ask, "Are your parents well?"

"Yeah, they're great." Emily was starting to get a weird feeling from this conversation but she decided to see where it went before she said anything about it.

"Good, and your sister, Katie if I remember correct." He was scrambling for something to say, something he usually didn't do but he still wasn't sure what she was doing there and he was hoping she would say what it was before he had to ask.

"Katie's fine too." Emily didn't even pause as she answered, willing to let him go on thinking Katie was her sister for now. "She's a sophomore at Georgetown."

"That's a good school. Your parents must be so proud." He paused a moment then finally just decided to ask, "So, what can I do for you?"

That weird vibe just got stronger but Emily played it out, "I guess I was hoping you could tell me where to put my things." She gestured to the box.

Hotchner noticed the box and frowned, "I'm sorry?"

Emily now realized he probably hadn't been told she was coming in today. Undeterred, she reached for the folder with her transfer paperwork as she explained, "I'm supposed to start here, today at the BAU." She handed him the folder.

Hotchner took the folder and began to open it as he said, "There's been a mistake."

"I don't think so sir."

"There's definitely been a mistake." He repeats as he reads further into the papers. In the lull, the door opened and a blond woman came into the office.

Emily turned to the door and she was momentarily stunned. For a split second, she thought the woman was Daphne, the resemblance was uncanny. But then she looked again and realized there were subtle but obvious differences and she relaxed a bit as she listened to the woman talk to Hotchner.

"Oh, excuse me," Agent Jennifer Jareau hadn't known her boss had someone in his office and she apologized to the woman before she addressed her boss, "We're getting started."

'Thank you I'll be right there." Hotchner dismissed the blonde and Emily's eyes met bright blue ones as she noticed the woman noticing her and smiling for before she left the office.

Emily turned back to Hotchner when he began to talk as he handed her the folder back and walked towards the office door. "I didn't approve this transfer Agent Prentiss. I'm sorry for the confusion but you've been misinformed. Excuse me, it was very good to see you again." With that he left the office and began walking down the catwalk that connected the offices on the upper level from the main bullpen.

Emily grabbed the box and followed him but stopped at the doorway to the office as she saw him meet up with another older gentleman. Despite their low voices, Emily could still hear them clearly.

"Did you approve a new transfer?"

Jason Gideon looked down the hall at the woman standing in Hotch's office and then back to Hotch. "No, I would've discussed it with you."

The men began walking towards the conference room, but Emily could still hear them and she wondered why she was transferred without the team leader's approval.

"She has the paperwork to join the team."

"Do you want me to make a call?"

"No, I'll look into it."

Emily watched as they disappeared into a room on the other side of the bullpen and she sighed. She carefully left the BAU offices to put her box back into her car. She sat in the driver's seat for a moment and considered finding the office of the Agent who had sent her the email about her transfer, Section Chief Erin Strauss to find out why her transfer hadn't been discussed with the BAU's unit leader but she decided against it. For all she knew, this Strauss woman could've been messing with her, or the email could've been a mistake, intended for someone else or for a different unit altogether. Emily decided to wait it out for a day or two, give Agent Hotchner a chance to look into the transfer before she tried again.

Emily drove home then, since until this was cleared up there wasn't much she could do, and dropped her box off before heading out again to grab an early lunch. She kept her cell phone on her in case Agent Hotchner called her.

Emily waited two days before she went back to the BAU to talk to Agent Hotchner and find out of he'd confirmed her transfer. When she got there, she was met by a young agent named Anderson who told her the team was in St. Louis on a case. Emily gave him her cell number and Agent Anderson promised to let her know when the team was coming back.

Emily left then, knowing there was nothing more she could do until the team returned and she could get this transfer cleared up.

That night, Emily invited Katie over for dinner, promising her favorite dish if she'd spend the evening with her 'old mom'. Katie didn't even need the bribe of the food, she loved spending time with her mom.

Katie was sitting on the couch after dinner, lasagna, drinking a glass of iced tea while Emily sat in the arm chair drinking a glass of wine.

"So mom, what's going on with your new assignment? What's the BAU like?" Katie was curious because her mom hadn't talked about it yet and she was used to her mom talking to her about everything.

Emily looked down into her glass, "There was a bit of a…miscommunication I guess and the unit leader hadn't been told I was transferring in so he's being resistant to the idea. I have to wait until he makes some calls and clears it up before I can start there."

Katie frowned, "But, you told him on Monday that you were supposed to start there right? It's Wednesday, I mean I know the government is slow but surely it's not that hard to make a phone call to the higher ups to clear this up." Katie was confused and a little offended on behalf of her mom that she was being made to wait in limbo until the unit leader got off his ass and did something.

Emily grinned, touched by the tone in Katie's voice, the concern and slight indignation. "It's not that easy. Monday the team was called away to St. Louis for a case. They've been there this whole time and I am guessing there's been precious little time to worry about a new transfer while they are trying to find a serial killer, honey." Emily shrugged her shoulders, "I can be patient, and I have plenty to keep me busy so don't worry about me okay?"

"That's easier said than done mom but I'll try. But still…you shouldn't just wait around for this guy to decide your fate. You should go there when they get back and fight for what's yours." Katie knew this was her mom's dream job and she wanted her to have it.

Emily thought about that for a moment then revealed, "Well, that's kind of the plan. I have someone on the inside so to speak who is going to text me when the team is on their way back so I can go see the unit leader Agent Hotchner, as soon as he gets back. Maybe if he's tired enough I can get him to listen long enough to see that I belong in that unit."

Katie smiled, "That's the mom I know and love."

The rest of the evening was spent watching television until Katie decided it was time to head back to the dorms. Emily hugged her goodbye and she locked up after her car pulled away from the building.

Emily soon headed to bed after placing their glasses in the dishwasher and setting the coffee maker for the next morning.

Thursday morning, Emily went about her usual routine and around 11, she got a text from Agent Anderson letting her know the team would be back that evening by 5. Emily smiled as she formed her game plan for convincing Agent Hotchner to give her a chance to prove she belonged on the team.

That afternoon, around 2:30, Emily walked into the BAU and slipped into Agent Hotchner's office. She sat on the couch as she waited for him, arriving early so as not to miss him. About an hour later, Anderson came into the office to drop off a file, Emily smiled as she took it from him.

She read it, studied the details and began to formulate a profile for the guy who had killed 11 women so far and didn't show any signs of stopping.

A few hours later, the door opened again and Emily looked up to see Agent Hotchner walk into his office. She stayed quiet until he noticed her. When he did, he didn't seem surprised but he asked, "Please tell me you haven't been there for the last four days."

Emily gave a small smile, "I heard you were flying back tonight."

"Heard? How could you have heard a thing like that?" Hotchner was starting to wonder about the security of the building and its agents. The drama with Randall Gardner and Elle was still fresh in his mind.

Emily ignored the question, not wanting to get Anderson into any trouble, instead she handed the folder to him, "This was dropped off earlier today."

Hotchner took the file then looked at Agent Prentiss, "I appreciate your interest Agent, but profiling is a specialty. We can't just let anyone who wants to, give it a whirl."

Emily noticed her chance to prove this wasn't just a 'whirl', "The I-80 killer? Co-eds in Indiana."

"Yes, I read it on the plane."

"They aren't blitz attacks. This guy is organized. He's a white male in his 30s and a smooth talker because even after 11 victims, he can still convince educated women who know there's a predator out there to get into his car."

Hotchner studied her a moment as he thought about her assessment, from what he read of the file on the plane, she seemed to be spot on so far. "How would you advise the police?" Hotchner decided to test her execution now, she had proven she could profile.

Emily took a second then said, "I would stake out the Ranch House, a nightclub in Gary. They have a very popular ladies night on Thursdays. If you look closely you'll see that 8 out of the 11 victims went missing on a Friday morning, which means something gets this creep's motor running on Thursdays." Emily paused a moment for a breath, "This isn't a whirl Agent Hotchner. I don't know how the paperwork got screwed up, or maybe you believe my parents pulled some strings, which they didn't by the way. I belong in this unit and all I am asking you for is the chance to show you that."

Hotchner took a few moments to think about that, sensing that she was telling the truth about her parents and the transfer. He decided to give her a chance, but he was still going to look into it. "I still need to look into this. I'm not promising anything."


"We brief new cases at 10am every morning. You can see facilities management about a desk."

Emily smiled, realizing she was getting her chance. "You won't be sorry sir." She grabbed her box that she'd brought with her and left the office. Tomorrow she would see about securing a desk. For now, she went home, stopping by her favorite Italian restaurant to pick up some quick take out before heading home.

The next morning, she reported to the Facilities Management Office and was assigned a desk in the bullpen. She had just settled her things when she got a text from Agent Hotchner telling her she had to see Agent Jareau to go over the policies and procedures for the unit before she could join the case briefings.

Emily stood up and, after finding and asking Anderson where Jareau's office was, she headed out of the glass doors and down the hall towards the office she was told belonged to Agent Jareau, the BAU's Communications Liaison. She hoped the meeting didn't last too long, she had never been a fan of rules and regulations.

Emily reached the door and saw it was open, she glanced inside and was about to announce her presence when she realized it was the blonde from Monday. Emily wondered if this was to be her penance for thinking ill of the rules.

Emily stood in the doorway of Agent Jennifer Jareau's office and silently studied the beautiful blonde as she waited for her to lift her eyes from her paperwork and acknowledge her existence. Agent Jareau was beautiful, there was no doubt about that, but she also had an air of competence about her that Emily found very attractive. It was the slight resemblance she bore to Daphne that was holding her back for the moment.

Emily had finally accepted that her best friend, and one time lover, wasn't coming back during her sophomore year of college and since then she'd had a few girlfriends but no one serious. No one had ever really captured her attention, much less her heart, since Daphne had all those years ago. She had learned to let that portion of her past go and move on with her life, but being a single mom kind of put a damper on most relationships, not that Emily really minded. She knew she probably wasn't cut out for long term relationships, her devotion to Katie always overshadowed trivial things like relationships. Still, it didn't mean that she couldn't appreciate a beautiful woman…like the blonde she was currently looking at.

Jennifer Jareau, JJ to everyone she met, was acutely aware that she was being watched. She was actually pretty used to it by now. Working with a team of brilliant profilers had taught her to ignore the long looks that usually meant she was being studied and in all likelihood, profiled. After letting it go on for a few more minutes, both to allow her observer to get a good look and to also finish up her assessment of the case file in front of her, JJ looked up with a smile at the brunette who was standing in her doorway.

"Good morning, you must be Agent Prentiss. Please come in and have a seat." Hotch had told her last night that he was sending her a new agent to brief on the protocols and procedures of the BAU. It was in fact, part of her job to make sure any new team members knew how things were done on this team as opposed to the other BAU teams.

Emily walked into the office and sat down in the chair across from the desk. She smiled as she said, "Please, call me Emily."

JJ gave a slight nod, "Welcome to the BAU Emily. As you may already know, my name is Jennifer Jareau but everyone calls me JJ. I'm the Communications Liaison for the BAU."

"It's nice to meet you, JJ." Emily had a strong urge to call her Jennifer but she realized that it might not be welcome so she stuck with JJ.

JJ smiled, "Likewise. Now, it is my job to brief you on the protocols and procedures for our team. The BAU currently has three teams working on cases. Each team has its own Liaison and its own set of protocols and procedures that set it apart from the others while still adhering to the FBI standard." JJ paused a moment to let that sink in then she said, "Basically it means that each team has its own way of doing things but we all follow FBI standards."

Emily nodded, sensing that JJ wasn't done explaining.

JJ took Emily's nod as a sign to continue. "So, I'll try to keep this simple as there aren't a lot of rules on our team and I am sure you are already aware of the FBI standards, yes?"

Emily nodded again.

"Right. So, here it is in plain English. We brief new cases every morning at 10am, unless we are in the field. You are required to have a go bag ready at all times as we are usually called to a scene at a moment's notice and there's never time to run home and pack something. We have a private jet that we use to travel all over the country to wherever a case takes us, so hopefully flying won't be a problem for you. When the team is not on location on a case, you will be assigned minor cases that only require a consultation and a working profile. It can be done at your desk and then faxed over to the local LEOs in charge of the case. Any questions so far?" JJ stopped, wanting to give Emily a chance to ask anything that she needed to.

Emily thought about it and then asked, "yeah, do the consultation profiles have to be cleared by the team leader before they are faxed over?"

JJ smiled, "No, that's not required, but if you want to run it by him you can, as long as he's not busy." JJ paused before she began the other part of her briefing, "there is currently a moratorium on intra-team profiling. I know that it's probably second nature by now to profile everyone you meet, however, because of how closely we work together, it was decided that unless you notice something illegal or life threatening about a team member's behavior, keep any profiling to yourself. It allows for everyone to have at least a small measure of privacy."

Emily nodded, understanding that sometimes, being profiled by those you work with can be a bit annoying. "Makes sense."

JJ smiled. "One other thing, Penelope Garcia is our technical analyst. We rely on her for a lot of our information and she is the best at what she does," JJ paused, wondering how to best describe her best friend, "she's also…not your standard FBI-issue analyst. She's…unique. I'm telling you because it can sometimes be a bit of a shock the first time you meet her."

"Okay. Is she…deformed or something?" Emily couldn't figure out why JJ was telling her about the analyst unless there was something physically wrong with her.

JJ almost laughed out loud at that, "No! Nothing like that. She just has her own sense of style and she's a very…bubbly person. Not everyone can handle someone who is that bubbly and happy who also wears loud colors."

Emily nodded, finally figuring out what JJ was trying to tell her, "I see…well not to worry. I tend to not judge people by their exteriors. It's what's inside that counts with me. It shouldn't be a problem."

"Good. That's good." JJ paused a moment, trying to think of anything else that she might've missed. "I think that just about covers everything. Is there anything you want to ask that I haven't covered?"

Emily thought about it for a few moments, trying to think of anything that the pretty blonde hadn't already explained. "No I think you covered everything. But if I do have any questions later on, can I come to you?"

"Of course, anytime." JJ smiled at that, feeling an odd warmth in her belly at the thought of Emily coming to her with any questions she might have later on, rather than asking one of the other agents. She liked the idea that Emily might be different from the others in that she wouldn't be afraid to admit there was something she didn't know or couldn't figure out on her own. "Oh, one last thing. On days when we're not off somewhere else, we usually get off around 5 or 6. Occasionally, the team will go out for drinks after work to unwind. It's not mandatory but it's usually a good time."

Emily smiled, "Sounds like fun. I'll keep it in mind." Emily knew though, that it probably wouldn't happen for a while. The team would have to get to know her first and she'd have to prove herself to them before they would invite her along for drinks. She didn't mind, she knew she was good at what she did and that she was a damn good profiler. She just had to prove it to the team. Plus, she'd have to make sure Katie wasn't planning to swing by her apartment the same night she got invited out.

After a few moments of JJ gathering the paperwork that Emily would need to fill out in order to officially become a member of the BAU, Emily left the small office, papers in hand, and went back to her desk. That night she when she went home she prepared a go bag to have ready just in case.

Emily went to bed that night with a smile on her face. Tomorrow was Saturday and unless something major happened, she was going to spend the weekend with her daughter before she began her first official week with the BAU.


Chapter 12

Emily had been working for two days when the team was given a new case. Emily, without thinking, took the paper with the Arabic message on it and translated it out loud. When she was finished, she looked up at the team sitting around the table looking at her in surprise, Garcia she noted, also looked a little impressed.

Emily said, modestly, "I lived in a few Middle Eastern countries growing up."

The team nodded and continued the briefing and Hotchner decided that Gideon and Reid would go to Guantanamo Bay to interview the ghost detainee they had there that was tied to the terrorist safehouse the police had raided earlier that day.

Emily headed to her desk and pulled out her go bag and set it on her desk. Something told her that, given her display of fluency in Arabic, Hotchner might try to test her skill by sending her with Gideon and Reid.

Sure enough, Emily soon found herself heading for the SVU that would take them to the airstrip to board the jet they used for cases.

Emily was settled into the backseat, having happily given up the front seat to the young Dr. Reid, and once they were on the road, she took out her cell phone and dialed Katie's number. When Katie's voicemail came on, Emily began to leave a message, "Hey honey, I'm just calling to let you know that I have to go out of the country for maybe a day or two for work. I'll call you as soon as I get back. Take care, I love you." Emily hung up the phone and looked forward only to notice Reid looking at her. She didn't smile or nod, she just looked right back at him.

Dr. Spencer Reid hadn't meant to eavesdrop on the phone call in the back seat but he had still heard the message. He silently wondered to himself who Emily had been calling to inform of her plans to be out of the country. He would never ask her, because even he knew that wasn't socially acceptable given how short a time he'd known this new agent, but he was still curious. He spent the rest of the ride to the plane coming up with various explanations for who Emily called, but the most obvious one was that Emily had called her boyfriend to inform him of her absence. The loving tone in her voice ruled out a parent or even a roommate or friend. Spencer didn't know why the thought of Emily having a boyfriend made him frown and he decided not to dwell on that.

Emily sat on the plane to Cuba watching Gideon and Reid playing chess and mentally playing Reid's end of the game, since Gideon was clearly the better player. In her mental version of the game, there were already three moves Reid had made that she wouldn't have, and in her game, she would've beaten Gideon in two moves by the time the plane banked a hard left to land at the GITMO airstrip.

Katie Prentiss walked into her dorm room after her last class and dropped her bookbag onto her bed. She reached for the cellphone she had forgotten on her desk that morning and noticed she had two missed calls and two new voicemails.

As she kicked off her shoes and got comfy on her bed to rest for a few minutes before starting on her homework, she checked her voicemail. The first one was from her mom and she frowned when she heard that her mom was going out of the country for a day or two. She knew that meant she couldn't call her so she hoped that nothing happened to her wherever she was going.

The second message was from her grandmother, who had a house in D.C near the Capitol building. "Katie, honey it's your grandmother. I was wondering if you wanted to come over for dinner tonight. I have something I'd like to discuss with you. Call me any time before six to let me know if you can or if we need to reschedule. Love you!"

Katie smiled, she loved spending time with her grandparents and since her mom was out of town, she wasn't busy tonight. She checked her watch and noticed it was only five so she called her grandmother back and let her know she would be at her place by six.

Katie decided that, since her grandmother lived close to her mom's place, she would bring her books and stuff with her and crash at her mother's place after dinner. She'd seen a few fliers in the halls advertising a dorm party for later that night and she did not want to be here when that started. Katie wasn't your typical college student. She much preferred to spend her time studying and hanging out with her small circle of friends or her mom than getting drunk at some party.

So, she quickly changed her clothes to something more suitable for dinner with her grandparents and she grabbed her books and was out of the dorms by five-thirty. She arrived at her grandparents' house with ten minutes to spare and smiled as she hugged them both when her grandfather opened the door.

A few hours later, after dinner had been eaten, Katie and Elizabeth retired to the home office that her grandmother kept at the house while her grandfather had adjourned to his study to work on his next book for a bit before heading to bed.

Katie was sitting in one of the armchairs next to the fireplace and Elizabeth sat across from her. For a few moments, they just sat in silence, enjoying the warmth of the fire and the silence of the room.

Elizabeth cleared her throat and began, "Katie, there was something I wanted to talk to you about."

Katie turned to her grandmother, curious, "What is it Nana?" Katie still used the name she used to call her grandmother when she was a child.

Elizabeth smiled at hearing the pet name, "As you know, Christina is going to be taking maternity leave in two weeks. I was wondering if you would be interested in filling in for her while she's gone?" Christina was Elizabeth's personal assistant and the woman was about to take her leave to have her first child. Elizabeth saw this as an opportunity for Katie to see if she could see herself in the diplomatic arena. She had hoped that Emily would one day follow in her footsteps and join the state department but when that didn't happen, she started to think maybe Katie would be her legacy.

Katie thought about her grandmother's offer. She already knew she didn't want to have a job in politics, but she would also love the chance to spend more time with her grandmother. "Um, that sounds like a great opportunity, but I think I should probably talk it over with mom first. Is that okay?"

Elizabeth smiled, knowing how close Emily and Katie were. "Of course. You have two weeks to decide. Just let me know as soon as you can, so that I can have time to find someone if you decide not to take the job, okay?"

Katie nodded, "Okay." Katie then realized the time, "Oh wow, it's getting late and I should really get going. Thank you for dinner Nana."

Elizabeth thought about asking Katie to spend the night there, but she knew her granddaughter valued her independence so she simply walked her to the front door and hugged her goodnight before watching her get into her car and drive away.

Katie let herself into her mom's condo a few minutes later and, after locking up for the night, she climbed the steps and headed to the room her mom kept for her here. She flopped down on the bed and pulled out her books and notebook and began working on the assignments she needed to finish for her classes the next day.

Katie worked into the night and passed out among her books. It wasn't the first time and when she woke up the next morning with a stiff neck she knew it wouldn't be the last time.

Katie was in the kitchen waiting for the coffee to brew while she made toast with jam when the door opened and her mom walked into the apartment.

Emily jumped a little when she saw Katie in her kitchen but she soon relaxed and smiled at her daughter. "Hey sweetie, what are you doing here?"

Katie grinned at her mom, "There was a party at the dorms and I needed a quiet place so I came here." Katie knew her mom wouldn't have minded, she had her own key after all. "So, how was the…um…business trip?" Katie wasn't sure what to call her mom's last minute trip so she settled for something safe and simple.

Emily grinned, "It was…a challenge but in the end it worked out okay so…yeah. No regrets."

Katie nodded, "Good. I'm glad. Hey you want some breakfast? I have a late morning class so I can make you something real while you shower and change." Katie sensed that there was more her mom wasn't saying and that it had taken its toll on her so she wanted to do something nice for her.

Emily softened, "Actually that would be great, if you're sure you have the time that is."

Katie just grinned, "I'm sure. Go on upstairs and get changed for work. I'll have your breakfast ready when you get back down here." Katie waved in the direction of the stairs.

Emily went upstairs and took a quick shower before she dressed for the day. She was supposed to be back at the BAU by ten am to hand in her report on what happened in GITMO.

Emily made it back downstairs twenty minutes later and smiled when she saw the plates on the table that held pancakes, sausage, toast and scrambled eggs. The glass of orange juice sat next to the mug of coffee and Emily couldn't help chuckle to herself. Katie's idea of breakfast always had to include orange juice and toast. Everything else was optional.

Emily sat at the table with her daughter and they both enjoyed their breakfast together. Emily felt like it was going to be a good day today as she felt her misgivings about this last case melt away.


Chapter 13

A few weeks passed as Emily began to settle in with the team. She quickly got the hang of the consults and she was able to give accurate and quick assessments of the files she was assigned. The team traveled on a few cases and Emily soon became comfortable enough around the team to voice her insights…especially when they were called to Chicago to help find the real culprit behind the murder of a few boys that Derek Morgan was being accused of killing.

Emily had wanted, on more than one occasion, to smack the local detectives on the case for their obvious bias and obstinate refusal to consider anyone but Derek for the murders. But she restrained herself and was happy to be able to help figure out the truth and catch the real killer.

The information that she, inadvertently, had learned about Derek and his past made her heart ache for the little boy he had been, scared and alone with no one to confide in about what was happening to him. At the same time though, she respected his need for privacy about this so she didn't mention it. She made like she hadn't heard him ranting to the killer and she simply went about her job.

When they returned to the BAU, Emily just nodded to the tall man and left, it was almost eight o'clock at night when they arrived in Virginia and Hotch told them to just go home.

Emily went home and took a shower before falling asleep in her comfortable bed.

A few days after the Chicago case, Emily was in the break room getting a coffee when she saw JJ walking through the bullpen and up towards Hotch's office holding a thick stack of files in her arms. Emily felt her heart speed up at the sight of the pretty blonde but then it sank a little at the knowledge that all those files meant they had another case.

Emily had accepted that she had a small crush on JJ back in Chicago when she was so protective of Derek, she resembled a tiny pit bull who would maul you with cuteness if you tried to harm her friends. Emily knew she was falling for the blonde and she also knew she didn't stand any kind of chance with her, since JJ was most likely straight, but it didn't stop her from having feelings for her.

Emily and the others soon filed into the conference room to hear about their next case and where they would be flying off to this time.

On the plane to Nevada, Emily had to make a conscious effort not to react to the pictures of the remains of the victims of their latest serial killer; the most prolific serial killer ever, according to Gideon. There was something about this case that was getting to her but she couldn't put her finger on what it was exactly.

They landed and Emily went with Reid to the local police station while Gideon, Hotch, and Morgan went to the crime scene to study the remains that were found. Right away, Emily and Reid noticed the atmosphere in the police station as less than welcoming and, while it personally unnerved her, Emily swallowed her own misgivings and offered the younger agent a placating explanation as to why there didn't seem to be much love for them at the station.

Before too long, Emily was immersed in the case and finding that it was taking almost everything she had to keep from throwing up or worse, every time they learned something new about this killer.

This guy, Frank, drugged his female victims and made them watch via a mirror above them, as he cut them open and dismembered them until they mercifully died at his hand. It was a horrific way to die and Emily knew it would give her nightmares for weeks after they wrapped this case.

When they realized that Frank had hijacked a school bus full of the town's children as leverage to make them hand over the one victim he hadn't killed, Emily tried but couldn't see how they could avoid giving in to his demands.

She watched, helpless, as Gideon got into the SUV with Frank and Jane, his only living victim and the woman he had convinced himself he was in love with even though as a sexual sadist he was incapable of feeling love, and drove off to where she and everyone else hoped the kids were waiting. Emily could only offer a silent prayer as she waited to see how it would turn out.

The flight back to Virginia was quiet as they each got lost in their thoughts. Emily looked around and realized she missed seeing JJ on the plane. She had stayed behind at Quantico with Garcia to work on the geographical profile. Emily, even in the short time she was with the BAU, had grown accustomed to seeing the younger blonde on the plane with them.

They landed in Virginia and piled into the waiting SUVs for the trip back to the office. It was still early enough that they could put in a few hours finishing up their reports before heading home.

Emily had barely sat down at her desk when she heard Hotch call her name. She stood up and turned towards the voice, "Yes sir?"

Hotch gave a small grin, "You can cut the sir bit Emily. It's Hotch. I need to see you in my office please."

Emily nodded, "Of course Hotch."

Emily walked towards his office, confused as to what he might want while mentally reviewing everything she'd done on this last case to try to figure out what he was about to call her on to the carpet for. She couldn't come up with anything so she mentally braced herself and walked into his office.

Hotch was sitting at his desk and he motioned with his hand towards the chairs in front of his desk, indicating he wanted her to sit. Emily sat down and waited for Hotch to speak.

Hotch cleared his throat then said, "Emily, did you mother ever tell you about the…side project…she asked me to do while I was working with her?"

Emily frowned as she thought back to the time when Hotch had been assigned to work on her mother's staff's security clearances. "No she didn't, why?" Emily had a feeling she knew what the older man was going to say but she didn't want to tip her hand just yet.

Hotch's shoulders tensed a moment before relaxing. "I assume that you remember, the summer before you went off to…Princeton, was it?" At Emily's nod, he continued, "that summer, your best friend Daphne Morris, disappeared correct?"

"Yeah, she was driving from New Jersey to California to attend Stanford, why? What are you trying to tell me?" Emily suddenly got a bad feeling in her stomach as her brain raced ahead of the older agent.

Hotch cleared his throat again. "When it was clear that the girl hadn't reached her destination, your mother asked me to look into it, use my Bureau contacts and resources to try to find her." He paused a moment, his hand unconsciously moving to rest on a file folder, "unfortunately, the trail went cold just outside of Reno, Nevada. There was a hotel room and a cash advance on her credit card and then…nothing. Until last week, there were no leads, no clues and no closure. Before her father passed away, he entered Daphne's DNA into the system by filing a new missing persons report. Last week, there was a hit on the DNA profile." Hotch looked down at the folder on his desk, "Since both her parents are now deceased, you are the next of kin, as listed on the recent report her father filed. He named you as the next of kin after himself. So it falls to me to inform you that…Daphne Morris' remains were found three weeks ago and the DNA was confirmed last week." Hotch took a breath before he continued, "Emily, the body was missing the lower right rib bone."

Emily took in what Hotch had just told her and she was stunned. She knew what the rib bone meant and she realized that Daphne, her best friend, her first love, had been one of the many victims of Frank…the serial killer they had just let get away.

Emily felt herself go numb, she knew the full grief would hit her later, in the privacy of her own home, but right now she was just numb. Unbidden, her mind conjured up an image of Daphne as she had last seen her…smiling and standing in her driveway as they kissed goodbye and Daphne promised she would be back the following summer to continue what they had started in that cabin on graduation night.

Emily looked up at Hotch, who was sitting there quiet and patiently waiting for her to process the news. She could hear her voice crack a tiny bit as she asked, "This has been confirmed, it's really her?"

Hotch just nodded, not really knowing what, if anything, he could say to soften the blow or make things better.

Suddenly, Emily's upbringing kicked in and she sat up straighter and her face became a shuttered mask of neutrality as she asked, "When can they release the remains? I want to give her a proper burial."

Hotch, confused about the sudden change but deciding to go with it as it was easier to deal with the practicality of the situation rather than the emotions of the moment, answered, "The local medical examiner has released the remains and they can be shipped to the funeral home of your choice. There's a form you'll have to sign before I can release the remains to you but that's just a formality. I truly am sorry Emily. I had hoped for a happier resolution to this matter."

Emily turned to Hotch from her inspection of the corner of his desk, "Really? After seventeen years?" Emily sighed, "Sometime around my senior year of college I finally accepted that Daphne was most likely dead. I grieved and I moved on. I stopped hoping for a happy ending a long time ago Hotch. All I ever hoped for was to at least find her body and lay her to rest. I can do that now. But thank you for everything you've done."

Hotch just nodded, moved by the strength of spirit it must've taken for someone as young as Emily had been, 21 or 22, when she accepted her friend's probable death…and to live with that uncertainty for so many years and not let it rule your whole life, took a strong person. Hotch's estimation of Emily went up a few notches in that moment. He handed her the folder which contained the paperwork she needed to sign to have Daphne's remains shipped to her for proper burial.

Emily signed the papers and stood to leave, "Thank you Hotch."

"Emily, take the rest of the day off, go home and…I don't know, grieve all over again maybe? Your report from the Golconda case can wait until tomorrow, okay?"

Emily was about to protest but realized that he was right. She may have accepted Daphne's most likely death years ago, but this had brought it all back up. She could use the time off to really process it…plus she didn't want to be in the office when her mental compartments broke open and the emotional torrent began. "Thanks, I'll take you up on that. I'll see you tomorrow?"

Hotch nodded, saying nothing.

Emily left his office and went to her desk and gathered her things. She made it all the way to the elevator before someone stopped her.

"Hey, Emily, where are you off to?"

Emily turned to face the person who had stopped her and immediately felt herself falling into the bluest eyes she'd ever seen. "Hey JJ, something personal came up and Hotch let me go home early. I'll see you tomorrow okay?"

JJ's eyes filled with concern, "Is everything okay? Is there anything I can do?"

Emily sadly shook her head, in that moment, with her eyes shining with caring and concern, JJ reminded her far too much of Daphne and Emily couldn't handle it. Luckily, the elevator chose that moment to arrive and Emily grabbed her escape, "It's nothing I can't handle JJ. Thanks for offering. I'll see you tomorrow, good bye." Emily watched the elevator doors close and she slumped against the side wall.

Her emotions were starting to push at the walls of her brain, begging to be released. Emily pulled out her cell phone and sent a text to her parents and to Katie…she really needed them with her right now and she was once again thankful that her parents were living in DC right now. Her mom was between assignments so she was working out of the DC office and her father could write anywhere and he chose to be close to his family.

Emily made it to her condo and she immediately opened a bottle of wine and got three glasses out before pouring one and moving to the sofa. Her parents and her daughter would be there soon and Emily knew she'd need to have at least one glass of wine in her before she could tell them about Daphne. It wasn't something she was looking forward to but she knew it had to be done. Her parents had seen Daphne as a second daughter and Katie, though she didn't remember Daphne, had grown up looking at pictures and hearing about her mother's best friend. Katie knew Daphne, if only through Emily's stories, and she deserved to know the truth as well.

After an hour of sitting alone in her condo, the door opened and Katie walked in followed by Emily's parents, Emily watched as they entered and got settled into the living room. When everyone had a drink in hand, Katie being the only one without alcohol because she was only 19 after all, Emily took a breath and prepared to tell her family the sad news.


Chapter 14

Supervisory Special Agent Jennifer Jareau after having spent years working alongside some of the best profilers in the country had managed to pick up a thing or two when it came to observing behavior, but it didn't take a profiler to see that something was up with Emily Prentiss.

It had been a few days since the team had returned from Nevada and the dramatic fail they'd had to swallow, and in those days JJ had noticed a marked change in Emily. The easy camaraderie she'd begun to develop with Reid and Morgan seemed almost non-existent now. There was a rigidness to her spine that hadn't been there before Nevada and Frank and, among other small signs, there was a profound sadness in her eyes whenever JJ had managed to get close enough to the dark haired woman to see her eyes.

To the casual observer, Emily seemed fine. No one who wasn't paying attention would even notice the difference, but JJ noticed because, lately, she seemed to notice every detail about Emily. Ever since Reid had nailed her in the head with one of his 'physics magic' rockets and Emily had laughed it off and asked him to show her what he'd done, JJ had started crushing on the older agent, knowing full well it would never go anywhere. Emily was undoubtedly straight and JJ wasn't about to go down that road again with a curious straight woman…that road only leads to pain and regrets. Still, she knew there was something wrong with Emily and she wasn't surprised to discover that it hurt to think Emily didn't trust her enough to tell her what was going on…no the surprise came in how much it hurt.

In the days that followed Hotch's revelation that Daphne was dead and had been one of Frank's many victims, Emily had been busy grieving while making funeral arrangements. She wanted nothing but the best for her old friend and she spared no expense…even if the only people in attendance would be herself, her parents and Katie. Both of Daphne's parents were now deceased…her mother to cancer and her father to liver failure after over a decade of trying to drink away the pain of losing both his daughter and his wife. There was no one else related to Daphne who was still alive and it made Emily even sadder when she'd discovered there wasn't even a distant cousin or aunt or uncle out there somewhere.

The day of the funeral, Emily was standing at the gravesite, staring at the casket that held the meager remains of her friend, and tried to drown out the priest's words as she allowed herself a moment to remember Daphne as she was the last time they were together. After a few moments, she felt someone step up next to her and out of curiosity she turned to see who it was and she was surprised to see Hotch standing there, dark suit, dark shades and his typical somber expression. Oddly, it felt almost right to have him there, given his role in the investigation and she was, frankly, thankful he was there. It helped ease some of her own guilt for stopping her own personal search for Daphne a few months ago.

Aaron Hotchner wasn't quite sure why he'd shown up at the funeral but he felt he needed to be there. Since discovering that the young girl he'd been asked to find so long ago had fallen victim to Frank, there'd been a small pool of guilt in his belly. He rarely ever questioned his methods and his ability to do his job, but a small voice had begun to question if he'd tried harder, if he'd actually gone to Reno to physically look for the girl, would he have found her? Would he have found Frank and stopped his killing career right then? Or was this the way things were supposed to play out? Hotch slowly turned to look at Emily, her parents and the younger girl who he assumed was Emily's sister Katie, their grief abundantly evident on their faces, even with dark glasses on, and he knew that this wasn't how things were supposed to play out. No one should have to suffer the way the young girl in the casket had in the last moments of her life. Daphne Morris should've grown old and gotten married, had children, a career, a full life before the reaper finally came for her. Hotch hung his head as the priest began the final portion of his prayers for Miss Morris, knowing that there were no words in any language that would ease the pain this small family felt right now.

Emily was tempted to take a few days off after the funeral, Hotch had offered them to her, but she knew if she did, she'd just sit in her apartment slowly going crazy as the memories assaulted her. At least if she was working, she'd have a distraction from the images in her head.

So she went back to work right after the funeral. A few weeks passed, they flew out for two cases, one to Ohio and the other to Florida, and in the interim, she handled the case files and paperwork that came with consultations and profiles by fax.

Every evening, when they were in town, Emily left the office no later than six and met Katie at her condo for dinner and company. Her daughter seemed to know, without Emily ever saying anything, that her mom didn't want to be alone right now. So Katie would usually be there waiting when Emily got home, with dinner cooking and a glass of wine resting on the counter.

Katie understood, even without her mom coming right out and saying it, that Daphne had most likely been more than just a friend to her mom. The day after Katie graduated high school, Emily had sat her down and basically come out of the closet to her, feeling that she was now old enough to understand.

It hadn't changed the way she felt about her mom, but it did change the way she saw her mom. She no longer teased her mom about every man she saw her with…instead she would just grin whenever she saw her mom talking to a beautiful woman, which wasn't very often because as far as she could tell, her mom didn't date much…if at all. Katie wanted her mom to find love and be happy, and she had started to wonder if it would ever happen but now, with this chapter of her mom's past finally closed, Katie was hopeful that her mom might be ready to finally move on and find someone special to share her life.

For the first time in nearly 17 years, Emily didn't dread the arrival of December 7…Daphne's birthday. For years after Daphne's disappearance, Emily would get really quiet a few days before and sink into a fairly profound sadness as the date approached. She would spend Daphne's birthday alone in her bedroom, flipping through the old photos she still had of the blonde and wishing things had been different.

This year though, Emily decided that Daphne deserved something better now that she was finally resting at peace. So instead of her usual solitude, Emily invited her parents and Katie to her condo and she toasted to Daphne and they all celebrated the life she'd lived and reminisced about the good times rather than focusing on the facts of her death. Emily went to bed that night feeling a little lighter than she had in weeks.

The next morning Emily didn't have to be at the office so she spent the morning cleaning the condo and listening to the radio. It was while she was scrubbing the stove that a song came on that was slower than the ones before it and it took Emily a moment to focus on the lyrics. When she did, she stopped cleaning to really listen to the song.

Sunny days seem to hurt the most
I wear the pain like a heavy coat,
I feel you everywhere I go.
I see your smile, I see your face
I hear you laughing in the rain
I still can't believe you're gone

Emily found herself nodding along to the song as she thought about Daphne again.

It ain't fair you died too young
Like a story that had just begun
But death, tore the pages all away.
God knows how I miss you
All the hell that I've been through
Just knowing, no one could take your place.
Sometimes I wonder…who you'd be today.

Emily felt the tears gathering in her eyes as she listened. Over the years, she'd thought about what her life might've been like if Daphne hadn't vanished, if they had gotten the chance to see where their relationship could've gone.

Would you see the world?
Would you chase your dreams?
Settle down with a family?
I wonder, what would you name your babies?
Some days the sky's so blue
I feel like I can talk to you
And I know it might sound crazy…
It ain't fair you died too young
Like a story that had just begun
But Death, tore the pages all away.
God knows how I miss you
All the hell that I've been through
Just knowing, no one could take your place.
Sometimes I wonder…who you'd be today.

In her mind, Emily replaced the word 'death' with Frank…finally having a target for the anger she'd always felt whenever she thought about Daphne being killed at such a young age. As she caught the tail end of the song, Emily knew this song would always have a place in her heart.

Sunny days seem to hurt the most
I wear the pain like a heavy coat
The only thing that gives me hope
is I know…I'll see you again someday.

When the song faded out and the station's DJ came on identifying the song and the artist, Emily made a mental note of it before she hurried to her laptop and downloaded the song from iTunes. Emily wasn't the type to torture herself by listening to that song everyday but she wanted to have it on hand for the days she knew were coming up…the days when something or someone would remind her of the love she'd lost and she would need something to get her through it. The song, while slow and sad, also lifted her spirits a bit…it seemed to really touch that place in her heart where the pain, the guilt and the anger over Daphne's death resided.

Before too long, Emily wiped the tears from her eyes and took a deep calming breath before she went back to her cleaning. It was going to be a long day but, maybe now it could also be a day of healing.

The week before Christmas, the team was taken off case rotation and given the holiday off. Morgan took a flight to Chicago to be with his mom and sisters, Reid went to Las Vegas to spend the holiday with his mom, Garcia stayed in town and volunteered at a local food kitchen to help serve the holiday meal. Hotch spent the holiday with Hailey and their infant son Jack. Gideon took off for his cabin in the woods for a solitary, peaceful holiday away from the commercialism of the season. JJ, happily, went back home to Pennsylvania to spend Christmas with her parents, her brother and his family. She had three beautiful nieces, triplets, aged 5 that she was determined to spoil rotten.

Emily spent the holiday with her parents and Katie, just as they'd done since Katie was born, just the four of them having a quiet dinner on Christmas Eve and opening gifts in the morning. Then, as had become the tradition once Katie was 7 and old enough to be trusted to behave herself, Christmas night her parents hosted a dinner party for a handful of visiting dignitaries and other important political figures who didn't have a place to go for Christmas. Usually a handful of Ambassadors who were stationed here without their families who for one reason or another couldn't make it back home for the holiday. Or a Senator or Representative who failed to book a flight to their home state and was at a loose end for the night.

Ever since becoming a grandmother, Elizabeth had realized that she didn't like the idea of someone being alone at Christmas…especially when it was so easy for her to host an evening of food, wine and fun. And if in the process she further cemented some very valuable political ties, well that was just a bonus.

The Christmas holiday passed fairly quickly, and soon they were back at work. Emily was glad for the distraction of work since she hated being alone with her thoughts lately. When she wasn't thinking about Daphne, Emily found herself thinking about JJ and wondering what the younger blonde was doing at random times of the day.

At least at work, Emily could satisfy her need to see JJ safely under the cover of work. Emily's crush on JJ was growing and Emily didn't have the first clue what she was going to do about it.

She knew JJ was straight and that nothing would ever happen, but that didn't stop her vivid imagination from conjuring up images that were best left locked away.

To Be Continued

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