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You've Got Mail

Chapter Seven

Nearly jumping off the couch as her computer dinged unexpectedly, Emily jerked her head toward the sound, her heart pounding. Get a hold of yourself, Prentiss...this could very well be one of your colleagues idea of joke.

It would be a really, really poor joke, she thought darkly. Perhaps the last the soul ever played, its offense punishable by a painful death… but a joke, nonetheless.

Quickly clicking on her flashing email, Emily held her breath as she eagerly read.

Define love for me, will you, Emily?

Kidding aside, I'll answer your question truthfully.

The answer is once.

Or, perhaps, more accurately, the answer is once before. Only once before have I felt that magical sense of completion simply by sitting in the company of another person. Felt that thrill of seeing the exact qualities in a human being that complemented my own.

She was a special woman and I'll always be grateful to her for teaching me how to feel. But, that was a long time ago. Over the years, I've learned some valuable lessons. Among them, I've come to realize that passion and fire do not necessarily go hand in hand with love. Love is comfortable. Stable. Reliable. Oh, passion and fire are part of the package, or at least I believe they could be for us, but when there's genuine LOVE, those ingredients only enhance the overall recipe, making the final food that much more palatable.

Many see me as hard and unyielding...and yes, I realize that even now, with all my statements, you are narrowing your list of potential candidates, but I need you to know that I've had to cultivate a impenetrable outer shell. Otherwise, I'd never have survived this long. But, underneath that surface is a man like any other. One with needs and desires...and the desperate need to be understood. You've always given me that. That feeling that you understand me...that you can somehow see beyond the mask to the man...sometimes hiding, it's true...below.

Emily's heart softened as she read the words on screen, something within her core loosening...warming. Oh, God, he'd been in love only once before...it had to be, didn't it? Blinking, she tried to refocus her eyes on the lighted screen.

Opening up was never something that was encouraged in my childhood either...for altogether different reasons than yours. Where your mother was distant...disconnected… my father simply didn't care. Hell, for longer than I care to admit, I wasn't certain I was even capable of loving someone. And then SHE happened. She taught me that I was worthy of being loved and loving in return. She was a wonderful woman, but it wasn't meant to be.

I'll never forget the things she taught me, though. And I want to have those shared moments with another person again. I want that with you. I want to be a part of something that's greater than myself.

The real question is...what do you want? Are you interest in pursuing a relationship with a slightly damaged man that's willing to try again?

I'm anxiously awaiting your response.

FBIlvr

Her heart threatened to explode as she reread the message for the third time. Biting her lip, her fingers faltered over the keyboard as she considered her response. And finally, drawing a deep breath she began to type.

Dear FBIlvr,

Isn't love the ultimate risk? How can I answer your question when I don't know who you are?

What I can tell you for certain is that I agree with your astute analysis on love. Passion and fire can only truly burn when genuine love is present. I will say that I've never felt love in the truest sense of the word...but I want to.

Opening up isn't easy for me, either, as I'm sure you've already figured out. But, with the right man to help me, I think I could be the woman I was meant to be.

I think the biggest question of all is if YOU'RE willing to take the risk. I want love...but it can't be a cowardly love. I need to touch it, feel it...taste it. I'm overwhelmingly anxious to meet my mysterious admirer.

Why don't you give us both the chance to find out if this can go anywhere?

Em

Hitting send, Emily stared blankly at her computer for several long minutes, mentally willing it to ding and say those magic words. Never had she wanted to hear that annoying voice announce, "You've got mail," more in her life than this moment.

And just as she began to give up hope, relegating her secretive would-be suitor to the depths of damnation, she heard that wondrous sound, alerting her that, just perhaps, her hopes weren't in vain. Maybe, just maybe, that elusive happiness was possible after all.

Lunging toward her laptop, Emily's mouth went dry as she read three simple words.

Answer your door.

Eyes darting towards the entrance to her house, her heart skipped a beat as she heard a firm rap landing against the wood.

He was here! Really, really here. At least, she hoped he was. Ever the agent, Emily quickly checked her waist.

Still armed.

A small part of her might be a dreamer, but she was still a realist at heart. She wasn't approaching that door defenseless. Hand on her holster, she approached, looking through her peephole.

The breath left her lungs in a whoosh and her eyes widened. Throwing open the door, her face creased in a beaming smile, she whispered, "I knew it was you all along."

"I never thought for a second you didn't," he replied with his own happy smile before flipping his cell phone closed and enfolding her in his arms.

/***/

And seventeen miles away in the FBI headquarters at Quantico, a relieved Kevin Lynch quickly tapped out a terse two word email, sending it to his four waiting colleagues. Its message was simple.

Mission accomplished.

And grabbing his jacket from the back of his chair, he hurried toward his own office door. One member of the BAU team was going to receive a personal reply. And an explanation.

A very, very long detailed explanation.

May God have mercy on his immortal soul because, God knew, Penelope Garcia would not.

Finis