This is something I've just been throwing around in my head for a long time and it seems to have now come together in a way I like.

Most of the characters you will recognize from the "Criminal Minds" and two other shows – they are not mine! Sophie, Daisy, and Peter (Jareau) some will recognize from "Higher Ground". That's a whole different story but in essence Peter and Sophie adopted JJ and Daisy and moved to Pennsylvania when they were young teenagers. The best-friend Tru (and her husband Luke) are from "Tru Calling," another show where AJ Cook was a title character. Otherwise, the characters are original. Also, I've ignored the fact that Haley and Hotch are broken up in the show.

I hope you enjoy – please let me know if you do – It helps my writing move along quicker.


Chapter 1 – Beginnings

"All women become like their mothers.

That is their tragedy.

No man does. That's his."

Oscar Wilde

His words had haunted her for months. She knew well that she shouldn't have been thinking about taking Carrie home, but Emily could feel her biological clock ticking. It was practically screaming at her, begging for an outlet. She knew her career made it unfair to bring a child into her life; but that didn't stop her from wishing for it. She was able to keep herself busy through work and frequent outings with JJ and Garcia, but there were still evenings when her boss's insensitive remarks echoed in her head and she wondered if she was capable of ever being a mother.

After all, she hadn't the best model for mother-of-the-year during her own childhood. Elizabeth Prentiss had taught her daughter French, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic. She had taught Emily that ladies never sat with their legs crossed. Crying was a sign of weakness. Laughing was improper in most cases. All these things had been engrained in Emily from birth. Never once had Elizabeth Prentiss offered her daughter a glimpse of what it meant to be a good mother.

Maybe it didn't matter. Emily had never been taught to be a maid of honor; but that hadn't stopped JJ from talking her into it. That was how she found herself on a plane to JJ's hometown in Pennsylvania. Garcia and Morgan were sleeping one row over while Haley had taken Jack to the restroom. Reid was on her right side, playing chess with himself, while Hotch sat to her left, pretending to watch the in-flight movie. Somehow he had convinced the Bureau to give the entire team more than a week of vacation time to enjoy JJ's wedding and the surrounding festivities. And there were festivities. Emily couldn't believe the list JJ had sent to her hand-held.

They were meeting JJ at the airport and driving with her to where they would be staying. They were fine with staying in a hotel but JJ had said that it was too impersonal and too much like work. Instead, she had arranged for them to stay with one of her best friends. Samantha Evans was a friend from high school who lived only two miles from her parents' home. Apparently, she had lots of superfluous room.

Superfluous was not exactly the word. Emily knew what it meant to be rich. Despite that small fact, she gasped when they pulled into the driveway of the home where they would be staying. "Well this is fancy," Garcia said in awe.

"You've got that right, baby girl," Morgan said with a shake of his head. They had been told that JJ was loaded; but he never realized what that meant until he was sitting in front of a several hundred million dollar mansion.

"Girl, we always knew Prentiss was rich. We didn't realize you were in the club," Morgan said as he stepped out of the car and hugged a waiting JJ.

"My parents are wealthy. But nothing like this. This is Dr. Samantha Evans' home. She was one of my best friends through high school and college. Let me introduce you. Come on," she said, waving them along. Emily picked up one of her bags but JJ shook her head. "Leave it. Just come." The door was opened before they reached the stairs and they were greeted by a young brunette woman who immediately hugged JJ. "You saw me yesterday," JJ objected with a laugh.

"For the first time in years. I'm taking advantage where I can get it," the woman answered with a smile. JJ turned back to her friends and coworkers. "Samantha Evans, this is Aaron Hotchner, his wife Haley and their son Jack. This is Penelope Garcia, Dr. Spencer Reid, Derek Morgan, and Emily Prentiss. David Rossi will be coming in a few days."

"Welcome," Samantha said, stepping aside and allowing them into the house. "Please come in. It's a pleasure to meet you. I've heard so much about you over the years."

"Really? Because the statistics on friends staying in touch after college are very low. And with JJ's hours and your obvious scholarly efforts, in that you're a doctor, indicate—"

"My IQ is five points higher than yours Dr. Reid," Samantha said, lightly stopping his spiel in its tracks. She moved on gracefully to shake Derek's hand. Spencer looked at JJ,

"You told her my IQ?" He asked, aghast and confused.

"I was curious about the comparison. But she wouldn't tell me hers until I told her yours," JJ said with a grin. "She's smarter. And I'm still better than you at Gin." She laughed good naturedly and left Spencer Reid to ponder these new facts. Samantha showed them to the guest rooms and told that dinner would be ready in an hour. Emily sank into the soft queen-sized bed as soon as the door was 

closed. The room was elegant and warm from the rich wall color to the fresh flowers on the vanity. After resting for a few moments, she rustled through the suitcase that had been brought to her room and began dressing for dinner.

Forty five minutes later, she was walking into the hallway looking fresh and feeling much better. A soft black skirt flirted just above her knees while her jewel-toned blue sweater magnified the color of her eyes. The heels of her black Givenchy shoes sank into the soft carpet as she turned to close her door. She caught sight of Reid about to descend the stairs.

"Oh, Reid," she said in horror. He was still wearing the same travel-worn clothes that he'd put on that morning.

"Emily," he said happily. "You look – wow." It was all the genius could say.

"Thanks Reid," she said with a grin. "Now we just need to work on you." He looked confusingly down at his clothes.

"What's wrong with me?"

"Oh, honey, we don't that kind of time," Emily said flippantly. "but we do have time for you to change clothing. Collared shirt – no bow tie – no vest – no jeans."

"To have dinner with JJ's family?" Emily gave him a look that said he should stop arguing and start changing. Minutes later, he reappeared in slacks and a long-sleeved polo shirt. Emily nodded her approval and walked with him down to the dining room.They found Hotch and Haley already waiting, he in a shirt and tie and she in a subdued dress that was both simple and elegant. JJ smiled at Emily and Reid and showed them to their seats. They were joined by and introduced to JJ's parent, her sister Daisy, Daisy's husband, and two of her good friends from college – Tru and Emma.

"Em, you look wonderful," JJ whispered, "and I'm glad I'm not the only one who wore expensive shoes." Emily smirked and thanked JJ. She was feeling fairly good; it had been a mostly calm day and they were looking at a week ahead with no hint of violence.

Once everyone was seated and the wine was poured – mineral water for JJ of course – Will stood before them and offered a toast. "I want to thank all of you for coming. I can't tell you how happy I am to be sharing this time with all of you. I never imagined after the hurricane that I would have a family again. And it humbles me and brings me great joy to enter into this one. Almost as much as it delights me that a week from today, JJ and I will be married and beginning a new branch of the family. To family."

He raised his glass and they all toasted. The remainder of the dinner was quiet, despite one conversation that amused them all greatly. It came toward the end of the evening, when desert was being served.

"We were both on the newspaper," Samantha stated.

"I can see that," Morgan nodded.

"Well, Samantha wrote when she could. But I was the editor in chief," JJ corrected.

"I'm sorry I didn't participate more, chief. I had a three-year-old and a husband."

"Excuses, excuses," JJ scolding jokingly.

"Do you have an eidetic memory?" Spencer asked abruptly, changing the conversation.

"And a photographic one," Samantha answered.

"Can I ask home many words you read per minute?"

"30,000," Samantha said lightly. "I think we should move on, Dr. Reid. I only have one PhD to your three. There you go – that should make you feel better." He did look momentarily comforted.

"She's also had five kids during that time," JJ teased.

"Jennie, stop," Sophie Jareau said lightly, feeling badly for the poor boy who was turning red. She speared a grape before speaking again. "You're all invited to the picnic Peter and I are hosting on Wednesday. I suppose it's the closest we're going to get to an engagement party," Sophie said good-naturedly, eyeing her daughter.

"Yes it is. And they already knew. I sent them the list on their hand-helds." Sophie shook her head, dismayed at the technology. The dinner ended quietly, with Peter Jareau offering to show them around town while JJ and Samantha opted out. They decided to take a walk around the grounds instead and enjoy the late summer evening.

"Do you mind if I join you?" Emily asked, not sure she wanted to get back into a car after the long day of travel.

"Not at all," Samantha said as JJ answered,

"That would nice." The three women changed into jeans and sweaters and started off. Emily let herself drift away as she followed the other women through the estate's gardens, woods, and lawns. She has stayed in placed like these as a child and she would wander into the gardens and imagine herself a princess who was being imprisoned by an evil monster. Those daydreams had helped her escape many of her mother's tirades about impropriety.

"What do you think Em?" JJ's question knocked her abck into the current reality.

"I'm sorry?"

"I asked if you wanted to walk any further. Samantha's heading back but I think I'm going to stay out for a little while."

"I'd like to stay," Emily answered with a hesitant smile, not sure that she had yet shaken the dazed look. Samantha made them promise to be careful and then began walking back toward her home.

"It's beautiful here."

"I've always loved it," JJ agreed. "Are you okay, you seem distracted?"

"I'm just giving my brain a little time off, I guess," Emily said with another half-hearted smile. "I'm fine – really. What does your friend Samantha do?"

"She is a professor of English over at the University," JJ answered. "She has five kids."

"Five kids." Emily repeated it in disbelief.

"Don't worry. She started early," JJ assured her. "She also is the founder of an orphanage on the outskirts of town. She started it years ago, right after high school. She traveled the world and used the best models she could find. She does wonderful things for those kids. My mom and dad both volunteer there. I'd like to stop in before the week is out."

"I wouldn't mind taking a peek myself. I always admire people who can help those kids. It's so sad, to imagine having no one left in your life to take care of you. Especially when you're young and impressionable. And so innocent." JJ stopped walking and looked at her friend.

"Emily. Calm down. We're on vacation. At least try to relax."

"Would you believe that this is me relaxing?"

"Yes," JJ said with a laugh. She put her arm around the older woman and they began to walk again. "Which is exactly why I'm insisting that you join me at the spa tomorrow."