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Women of Diamond
When Emily saw the front page of the Washington Post that morning, the morning of Genosha, she thought her heart had stopped. It was so familiar, the sight of wreckage, of sand, of bodies. She still saw enough bodies, but not like this. The tight, strict compartments of her mind, faceted like diamond and just as firm, built and polished with care for nearly thirty years, failed her, and it was a flood.
The truck bomb that took out the restaurant in South Africa, killing Ro, her closest friend at age 8, and both of her parents; the party in the Shah's palace, the guards in their black head cloths, all turning as one, the spatter of machine gun fire Emily, age 9 and a half, had cowered under the table, but her parents had sat calmly, confident in the cocoon of their American nationality; the subway bombing in Paris, "Stop the War!" the man had shouted, and Emily, age 10, had thought the war had reached France. Her mother had tugged on her hand, telling her to hurry along or they would be late for her violin lesson, as the paramedics started to arrive and pull dismembered limbs out of the wreckage.
Her mother had been in Genosha, temporary ambassador. She didn't pick up her phone. Emily couldn't get through to the hotel. She stormed into the BAU, and through the startled gazes like so many spider webs. Sharply turning away from JJ's caring, empathetic eyes, slick with the hypocrisy of new-motherhood, Emily grit her teeth. She couldn't afford to be sick, and she was already nauseous enough already.
Hotch took one look at her and approved her request for time off. There were no flights going direct to Genosha, the airport had been the first target destroyed. Garcia performed her magic, and Emily had a flight into Zanzibar and a lift on a WHO medical convoy into Hammer Bay, the fallen capital of the island nation,
She was there when they found her mother's body, crushed under the charred rubble of the once glittering city. The response team sagging with the horror of not finding a single survivor, occasionally repulsed by the shape of the bodies they pulled from the rubble. One man made a joke when they found a man with limbs resembling a cephalopod, something tasteless about sushi, and if Emily had been able to bring her gun she would have shot him on the spot. Americans, was all she could think, and felt repulsed by the color of her own passport. Rumors were flying that the death toll had already reached one hundred thousand souls, more than the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.
Emily staggered away to another team excavating a school, the tiny bodies being laid in rows. A young, fresh-faced man was kneeling and vomiting, a new volunteer probably. The team was struggling with something and she helped haul on the ropes. She was there when they plucked a diamond from the rubble, a diamond with a dead boy in her arms.
News of a possible cache of survivors, a mutant with a force field power, (a false alarm, they later found) called away the rescue team. Emily was left alone, watching the light shimmer and reflect into rainbows as she brushed dirt and ash off the diamond form that almost felt warm to the touch.
She was the only one there when the diamond shifted. There was a groan, and then suddenly a woman.
The woman who had been diamond opened her eyes. They locked with Emily's, barely a foot away.
<< My students >> The words weren't spoken, but they were heard.
Before Emily could find the words to explain the rows of bodies, the fallen world, the impossible disaster, she felt a twist, like a fist clenching into her brain and searching it, manhandling it like a flipbook. The emotions that spattered out as the images passed cut like shrapnel.
It stopped at the dead boy's face, unmoving and unmovable.
<< The others >> The fist fell limp and Emily turned to the row of tiny bodies. She looked up, over them, and saw the woman in her mind. Her stance exuded power and arrogance; her ice blue eyes were just as sharp. As she moved her cape flowed out behind her, and her joints flickered, glinting like diamonds. And yet there was a gaping black hole, spider-web cracks splitting the diamond that covered it. It was something Emily knew too well.
There weren't going to be any miracles. Her own mother's crumpled crushed corpse, being sent home in a box to its coveted place in Arlington, was all she could see.
Her mind was suddenly free, and she was left stunned by the shock of being alone. The woman on the ground was crying, her feathery blonde hair falling out of its twist around her face. She was barely marked, looked nothing like a survivor, except for the vast, gaping hole inside her eyes.
And it was only the fact that Emily could no longer hold herself up that made her dare to take the shuddering shoulders of someone who seemed so strong. Emily's face pressed into her neck: sweat and panic, dirt and smoke. Arms closed around her: warmth, and the impossible precariousness of life. They kept their eyes apart, too wet, too raw, and too humiliated to admit that the women of diamond were diamond no more.
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