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The Secrets Girls Keep

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Punctured bicycle
On a hillside desolate
Will nature make a man of me yet?
When in this charming car
This charming man
Why pampers life complexities
When the leather runs smooth
On the passenger side
I would go out tonight
But I haven’t got a stitch to wear

“Linz?” her dad tapped on the door and poked his head in. “Hey baby.”

“What’s up Dad?” Lindsay used the remote to turn down The Smiths.

“I'm heading to bed so I just wanted to say goodnight. Turn the music down just a bit.”

“You got it.”

“You girls stay up and have as much fun as you want. Just keep it down, OK?”

“Yep.” She nodded.

“Yes sir.” Emily nodded as well.

Lindsay got up from the bed, giving her father a hug and a kiss. As he held her to him, Emily thought of her own father and missed him terribly. She couldn’t really remember the last time they hugged like that. Sadly, it seemed as if her parents had always been gone. The memories were starting to fade; it had already been over a year since the explosion that killed them.

“Sleep tight…don’t let the bedbugs bite.” Lindsay said smiling.

“You got it.” he stroked her face. Then he smiled at Emily. “Do you like pancakes, Emily?”

“Oh yes sir, I do.”

“Alright, well I’ll make pancakes in the morning.”

“That sounds great. Goodnight, Mr. Vaughan.”

“Goodnight.”

He left the room and Lindsay pushed her door up. She didn’t close it completely; Emily noticed she never closed it completely. They had been friends for almost six months now. Emily and Lindsay met on the second day of school. They were both new to Georgetown Day and DC.

They sat next to each other in homeroom…Mrs. Lombardini was all about her seating chart. Their first conversation was effortless and so was every one since. This was the first time Emily was spending the night at anyone’s house. Jason didn’t know how he felt about it but he didn’t hold Emily back.

He didn’t want her to go there, didn’t want her being alone with just a man in the house. Jason wasn’t the rumor sort but didn’t like what he was hearing about Lindsay’s father. Emily assured him that she would be fine. She promised if something bad happened that she would tell him. She also told him he was wonderful but paranoid.

Lindsay walked over to the window, pushing it open just a bit. A cold rush of February wind came in causing both girls to shiver. Lindsay grabbed the box of cloves from her nightstand drawer, making her friend smile. Emily climbed off the bed and came over to the window as well. They sat together in the window seat.

“Linz?”

“Hmm?” She lit the clove, inhaled deeply, and passed it off.

“Can I ask you something kinda personal?” Emily asked.

“Yeah, OK.”

“Is your dad OK?”

“What do you mean?” She took the clove back and inhaled again.

“Well, he always seems to be popping those little white pills. My grandmother is a hypochondriac and she pops lots of different pills. Your dad doesn’t seem like the hypochondriac type to me.”

“He’s OK.” Lindsay replied. “They’re to calm the noises in his head.”

“What do you mean, like voices? Spencer’s mom has schizophrenia…she hears voices in her head.”

“No, not like that.” Lindsay shook her head. “It’s kinda like white noise; almost like his mind just moves too fast and he needs to slow it down. That’s what the pills do. They turn down the volume on the noise. That’s why Daddy likes quiet so much.”

“Oh. Well that’s good.”

Emily took the clove and figured that’s all she would say. Of course she wanted to ask more but some things weren't her business. She knew from experience that too many questions were never a good thing. The majority of the time you didn’t like the answers anyway and once you learned something it was hard to unlearn it. Sometimes mysteries were for the better.

“Emily, if I tell you something do you swear never to tell another human being?”

“I swear.” She said, handing off the clove again.

“I mean really swear, like you won't even tell Jason. You have to swear on your mother.”

“I do.” Emily nodded. She knew how much Lindsay’s mother meant to her and what swearing on moms meant as well. “I won't tell a soul.”

“You know all those stupid rumors around school that my dad is a Mafia hitman?”

“Yeah,” Emily smirked. “They're hard to ignore. They're ridiculous.”

“Well…there’s some truth to every lie.” Lindsay replied.

“How much truth is in that one?”

Lindsay took the last puff off the clove and lit another. They usually never smoked two but what she was about to say had never been uttered aloud.

“I'm from Boston, that’s where I was born and raised. I never knew what my dad did for a living…I was just a kid. We were a happy family and that’s all I cared about. One day I heard my parents talking, my dad saying he was getting out and things might be tough for a while. He told my mom that there was plenty of money stashed away and we would be fine but there would be some people who weren't happy about the decisions he was gonna make.

“Hitmen don’t retire, Em. They either go out in a blaze of glory or get taken down by the cops and start talking to save their skin. My dad is no rat…he was gonna retire and we were gonna leave to start a new life. Then my mom got killed.”

“She didn’t die of cancer?”

“No.” Lindsay shook her head. “Someone rigged the brakes of our car. They were trying to kill dad but my mom and I were in the car. She never made it to the hospital. I was hurt but survived. After that, my dad told me everything and he said he would make it OK and avenge what happened to mom. Then he went to the Feds.”

“Are you in Witness Protection?” Emily asked.

“No. My dad did bad things, but he never hurt good people. I don’t even know if that makes sense to you but it’s true. So he went to the Feds and told them everything he knew about various creeps in Boston, New York, and Chicago. He only asked for a few concessions.

“He wanted to disappear and he didn’t want the Feds touching his money. It was asking a lot considering what he’d done. I can only figure that what he told them was more valuable than taking him down for killing scumbags. We lived in Phoenix for almost three years but the heat was unbearable. So Dad took me on a road trip, which is why I lost the school time, and then we came to DC.”

“Does your dad work now?”

“He has a few jobs here and there. I don't know what he does right now and I'm not asking. He always promised to keep me safe; that’s what he’s gonna do. He’s not a bad man, Emily.”

“I don’t think he is.” Emily replied, not sure what she thought. She’d just heard some pretty heavy things. She promised not to tell and she wouldn’t.

“He knows your Uncle Dave is in the FBI.” Lindsay said. “It worried him for a while but I told him you weren't a spy or a bad guy. Now he likes you.” Lindsay smiled.

“Dave is in the BAU. He wouldn’t deal with RICO and stuff like what your dad might have been involved in. Still, he knows about you so he might know about your dad as well. He really looks out for us kids. But I'm sure he won't make trouble. He’s not that kind of guy.”

“Do you swear you're not gonna tell anyone?”

“I do. Cross my heart and hope to die.” Emily did it to prove herself.

“I trust you, with my whole heart and gut. I've never trusted anyone before except Dad.”

“I know that feeling. Jason and Morgan were the only people I trusted for a while. It’s weird, having a family that I can talk to, confide in, and trust. And now I have a friend.”

Emily took Lindsay’s hand and they both smiled.

“Anything you want to get off your chest?” Lindsay asked.

“Well you know that I'm emancipated right?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, I'm an orphan, my parents died last summer in a blast in Lebanon. But I do have family. I guess they're not my family anymore or maybe they will be forever, I don’t know,” Emily shrugged. “The reason I didn’t want to live with my grandmother and Uncle is because my Uncle sexually abused me. He raped me…when I was 12. He did it more than once.”

“What?”

“Yeah. Jason was the first person I ever told about what happened to me. Hotch knows some, Morgan knows some more, but I didn’t want to have to tell anyone else. It’s embarrassing and sickening. But I had to tell the lawyer and judge so they wouldn’t send me back there. I didn’t want to be his victim anymore.”

“My dad can make one phone call and he can be dead by tomorrow.” Lindsay said with a serious look in her dark hazel eyes.

“Are you kidding?” Emily asked.

“No, I'm not.”

“Linz…”

“I mean it; no one’ll miss the pervert.”

“Well that’s true.” Emily replied.

“Think about it. I mean, I know you pretty well; you're a good person and probably wouldn’t want it on your conscience. But I wouldn’t lose an ounce of sleep over it.”

Emily didn’t think she would either. But if Uncle Jonathan was gone who would look after Grandmother Prentiss? Since she got a new disease every week she needed someone there to take care of her. Uncle Jonathan wasn’t worth a damn but he had been caring for the old woman since Emily’s father passed away.

“Just leave him.” she finally decided, passing the second clove for the last time. “Though I reserve the right to change my mind.”

“So noted. And I’ll never tell your secret; never ever.”

Their cloves finished, they went back and sat on Lindsay’s big bed. There was a weird silence between them but then Emily put her arm around Lindsay.

“Best friends forever.” She said.

“Damn straight.” Lindsay replied. “There's no one I’d ever tell my secrets to you except you.”

“Ditto. What are we gonna do tonight?”

“Well, there's still plenty of pizza and lots more CDs to go through. Are you in the mood?”

“Definitely.” Emily nodded and put on a smile.

Lindsay left the room to go and get some food and snacks. Emily took a deep breath and lay back on the pillows. Man, what just happened in there had been heavy. She felt lighter but it was heavy just the same. She didn’t know if they could just go on and have a carefree night like they planned.

It was impossible to unlearn things but with time you could learn to move past them. Lindsay was her best friend and she was Lindsay’s. They needed to tell each other these things and remember that sometimes trusting people was a good thing. It brought you closer, to each other and to peace.

***