A/N: Okay, this story is a little different than what I usually write. While it is still slash, this is a multi chapter fic, probably going to end up being an epic. This story is very, very, very, AU. In this story, Will and JJ start out as married (as much as this kills me, it is for plot purposes). And in this story, also, while JJ was an FBI agent, she gave it up for Will. Also, she was never a member of the BAU. Just bear with me, it will all make sense in the end, I promise. And this is eventually going to be JJ/Emily. (Like I would make it anything else? Come on people. I live and breathe JEmily).

A/N2: Not mine. How I wish these characters were mine, but alas, they are not, so I just take them and create inane plots and make them what I wish they were. Everything here, with the exception of the plot, belongs to CBS. I make no money. If I did, I wouldn't be worrying about how to pay for college.

Connecticut, 2012

I have been alone for so long now, it is almost impossible for me to think in terms of living with another person again. But that is what Emily wants me to do. To live with her.

When she asked me last night marry her, I told her I could not. Undaunted by my answer, and bravely, as is her way, she suggested
we move in together. A sort of trial marriage, she said, with no strings, no commitment necessary on my part. "I'll take my chances, Jennifer," she said
with a small, wry smile, her dark eyes anxiously holding mine.

Yet, even this idea seems as out of the question to me now, this morning, as it did last night. I suppose, if I am scrupulously honest with myself,
I fear the intimacy living with another human being entails. It is not so much the sexual intimacy that appalls me but the physical closeness on a day to day
basis, the emotional bonding that weaves two people together and makes them part of each other. I am convinced I cannot handle this, and the more I think about it, the more I am coming to truly understand my reaction to Emily's suggestion.

I am afraid. Afraid to make a commitment... afraid of caring for her too deeply...afraid of becoming too attached to her...perhaps even
falling in love with her, if, indeed, I am capable of such a strong emotion.
Fear has paralyzed me emotionally for a number of years. I am well aware of that, and I so I have created a life for myself, a life alone;
this has always seemed so much safer. Brick by brick by brick I have erected a wall around myself, a wall built on the foundations of my business,
my work, my career. I have done this in order to protect myself, to insulate myself from life; work has been my strong citadel for such a long time now,
and has given me what I have needed these last few years.

Once, I had so much. I had everything a woman could have possibly wanted. Then I lost it all.

For the past five years, since that fateful winter of 2006, I have lived with pain, heartache, sorrow and grief on a continuous basis. I have lived
with a sorrow that has been, and still is, unbearable. And yet I have endured, I have gone on; I have fought my way out of a terrible darkness and despair
when I hadn't the strength to go on. I have lost the will to live, but yet I am still here. I have somehow managed to survive.

And I have taught myself to live alone, have grown used to doing so, and I'm not sure I can ever share myself again, as I once did, certainly
not the way I did in the past, in that other life which I once had.
But this is exactly what Emily is asking me to do. She wants me to share my life with her and therefore be able to share myself. She is a good woman.
I don't think there is anyone better on this earth, and any woman would be lucky to have her. But I am not any woman. I have gone through far too much, have been scarred forever,
my soul damaged irretrievably beyond repair, so I believe. And I am fully aware that I can never be the kind of woman she deserves, a woman who can give her
her all, a woman without a past, with no heavy baggage, no burdens or sorrows weighing her down, such as I have.

The easiest thing for me, an emotional cripple that I have become, would be to send Emily Prentiss away, to tell her no much more firmly than
I did last night, and never see her again. Yet I cannot...something holds me back from saying those words. It is Emily herself, of course, I realize that.
In my own way, I do have certain feelings for her, and have come to rely on her lately, perhaps more than I care to admit.
Emily came into my life quite by accident about a year ago, not long after she had rented a house near mine in this pastoral corner of northwestern Connecticut, just above Sharon near Wonopakook Lake and Mudge Pond, close to the Massachusetts border. I have always called these western highlands of Connecticut God's own country, and so I was somewhat startled when she used exactly those words to describe her approach to describe her appreciation of this magnificently beautiful part of the world.

I liked Emily the moment she walked into my house. On that winters evening over supper in my kitchen, I was convinced it was my friend Penelope Garcia that she was interested in. It was not until a few weeks later that she made her intentions perfectly clear to me that I was the one she was interested in, the one she wished to know better.
Wary, I held her at bay for a long time; then slowly, cautiously, I allowed her to enter a small corner of my life. Yet in many ways I've withheld much
of myself. So it's not without reason that I was stunned last night when she proposed to me. I promised to give her an answer today.
My eye caught the top of The New York Times which lay on my desk, and I read the date: August 9th, 2011. I wondered if she would remember this date later, recall it as the day I rejected her, just as I remembered so many dates myself….markers along the path of my life that brought back so many memories when they rolled around every year.
On the spur of the moment, I reached for my cell phone, wanting to get it over with, and then almost instantly my hand fell away. There was no point dialing her apartment in Manhattan, since I was not sure how to couch the words I knew must be said. I didn't want to her; I wanted to be diplomatic.
Returning to my desk, I sat down and stared into space, my thoughts continuing to focus on Emily. Last night he'd said I was too young to lead such a solitary existence. There's truth in this, I suppose. After all, I am only 28 years old. Still there are days I feel like a woman of eighty, or even older. I know that this is because of the things that have happened to me, as well as my newfound knowledge of life and people. Certainly, I have learned about their selfishness and insensitivity, their callousness and their indifference. I've learned a lot about evil firsthand too; yes, and even about good. There are some good people in the world, those who are kind, considerate and compassionate, but not many, not really. I have come to understand that we are entirely alone in our troubles and our pain. I suspect I've become something of a cynic these days, as well as much wiser, more self protective, and self reliant than I ever was before.
A few weeks ago I rattled on about the evils of mankind to Emily, and she listened attentively as she always does. When I finished, I discovered I was on the verge of unexpected tears; she joined me on the sofa, simply took my hand in hers and held it tightly. We sat like that together for a very long time, in silence, until she said quietly, "Don't ever try to understand the nature of evil, or analyze it, Jennifer. It's a mystery, one no one has ever been able to fathom. Evil has touched your life, more so than other people. You've been through hell, and I have no proper words in which to console you. Anyway, words are empty, cold comfort at best. I just want you to know that I'm here for you whenever you need me, Jennifer. I'm your friend."
I know I will always be grateful to her, not only for expressing that lovely sentiment that particular day, but because she did not attempt to placate me with platitudes, those meaningless words that the well meaning tend to offer when confronted with another person's pain or anger or despair. Also, I must admit, I admire Emily Prentiss. She is a decent human being, a woman of integrity and compassion, qualities that mean a great deal to me. Although she has never been married, she has not passes through this life totally unscathed—that I know. She is 36, eight years older than I am, and now it strikes me how ready she is to have a committed relationship. She is willing to accept everything this means. But am I? Ambivalent, uncertain, wary, scared, caught on a never ending tide of fears and deep rooted problems, I feel completely helpless this morning, unable to think with clarity.
I snapped my eyes shut, leaned forward and dropped my head on the desk, realizing that I did I was spiraling into a downward funk. There was no way I could make this call to Emily, as I promised I would. Very simply, I had no answer to give her, nothing to say to her.
The shrill ring of my phone cut through the air and brought me upright into my chair with a start, and I reached for the receiver. "Hello?"

"Hello Emily."
"I have to go out of town on assignment."
"Oh," I said, surprised by the announcement, "This is very sudden isn't it?"
"Yes, but this just came up a short time ago. The Bureau is sending me to interrogate some potential terrorists."
"But you don't usually do things like this."
"I know I don't. However, being fluent in Arabic and Russian, they think that my skills can be an asset to trying and assessing the situation that they think is at hand."
"This is the most hideous situation. Man is evil. Nothing you find out is going to change that." I said vehemently.
"I know that, Jennifer," she said, sighing.
"I'll be leaving in a couple of hours." She paused "Jennifer?
"Yes, Emily?"
"Do you have an answer for me?"
I was silent for a moment or two. Eventually, clearing my throat, I said, "No, I'm afraid I don't. I'm sorry, Emily. I need time. I told you that…." I let my voice fade away.

Emily didn't say a word.
Suddenly, she spoke. "When I get back, maybe you'll have an answer for me."
"When will you be back?"
"Their saying not more than a week."
"Be careful, Emily."
"I'm not aiming to get hit by a stray bullet," she said, almost flippantly. "That's not part of my destiny."
"Just be careful."
"I will. And take care of yourself Jennifer." She hung up before I could say a word.

I took the stone paved path that lead to the back of the house, walking rapidly until I came to the ridge overlooking part of my property and the valley beyond. I let my gaze shift to rest below me. Here, at the bottom of the ridge, where I stood, the horses grazed contentedly in the long meadow. To the left of them, and adding to this scene, were the old barns, freshly painted dark a with white trim. To the right of the long meadow, the pond, calm and glassy as a mirror, shimmered in the sun; a family of Canada geese swam one after the other, in a straight line across its dark surface, where water lilies, waxy and pale pink, floated in profusion.
After a short while, my eyes wander, my glance sweeping over the rosebushes, in full bloom, then moved over to survey my vegetable garden behind the white picket fence. The gardens coming to life with perennials and bursting with life. .
I lifted my head and looked up at the sky. It was the brightest, most piercing of blues, banked high with pure white flossy clouds, and dazzling. I blinked several times against the light, and then I realized, suddenly, that I was crying.
As the tears ran down my cheeks, I recalled Emily's words. "I don't aim to get hit by a stray bullet," she said, almost dismissively.
I shivered in the sunlight, unexpectedly cold in the hot air. No one ever knows what life holds, I thought, what destiny has in store. I understand that better than anyone.

Five years fell away. I stepped back into the past, into the summer of 2007, which would be etched into my heart forever.