DISCLAIMER: Criminal Minds and its characters are the property of CBS. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Slightly, 3x20 Lo-Fi

All Different Girls
By gilligankane


When it comes down to it, you're going to remember the little things, like the way she drank her coffee or the way she smiled differently at different people. You're going to remember two sugars, one cream and when you put it in Jordan's coffee she hates the way it tastes. It takes you a while to figure it out – because she starts making her own coffee after that – that she drinks her coffee black, and they only look at you and smile softly, but go about their business like it's a regular day.

Two sugars, one cream.

It's an odd way to drink coffee.

You're going to remember her walking – left foot before right – and you're going to remember papers piled high on her desk and you're going to remember Friday night movies and the way she laid out on your couch – left foot tucked under her right knee, right arm tucked under her head.

You see how Jordan is right-foot dominant, and her desk is always organized and orderly and she likes to go out on Fridays, and she dances with her eyes closed and her head thrown back and her one hand raised in the air.

When it comes down to it, you're going to remember the way she looked up at you, blood pouring from one side of her head, and the way she smiled through it, because Reid was watching her nervously, twisting his hands over and over. You're going to remember how she brushed off the paramedics and just kept smiling at you.

When Jordan catches the wrong end of a hunting knife and stumbles out of the shed, clutching desperately at her chest, you notice that she doesn't smile; she grimaces and closes her eyes tight and holds onto your hand so hard that she leaves nail marks and she pleads with you to make it better.

Things change; Morgan tells you this over and over again, because sometimes you look at Jordan but you're not really seeing Jordan, and maybe he's the only one who notices, or maybe he's not and he's just the only one who'll say anything about it. Things change but you're clutching onto the past, like it's something you can still bring back, if you close your eyes and tug hard on the memory and it'll just come flying back, sail right into place and nothing will have changed.

Jordan doesn't tell you that things change. She doesn't tell you that it's okay that you cry sometimes. She doesn't blink when you call her 'baby' in a voice that's clearly not meant for her. When she gets shot – the second time, almost shattering her elbow – she doesn't try to be brave for you and she doesn't cry out for you frantically when they load her into the ambulance, alone and bleeding.

Jordan doesn't tell you that things change, she just jumps into your daily routine, filling half of the empty space in your day and she doesn't complain when you accidentally place a cracked coffee mug on her desk with two sugars and one cream.

Two sugars, one cream.

It's an odd way to drink coffee.

You're going to remember how she never let you feel like you were alone in the world; how, even before you could really call her yours, there would always be a smile, or a touch, or a word that let you know you weren't the only one who still – sometime – ended up hunched over a porcelain toilet bowl, because the victim was just a little girl; you weren't the only one who still cried sometimes, because that family just lost their mother and wife and stability; you weren't the only one who wasn't afraid to hide behind facts and macho and grim faces.

Jordan makes you feel like you have to care of her. When she tells you again – for the fifth, or sixth, or twentieth time; you lost count – that she doesn't think she's cut out for this job, for this role she has to fill, some part of you wants to tell her that she can, and that she's strong enough to. But you're not sure she is, and you can't take care of yourself right now, let alone take care of her.

You sip your coffee and grimace, because you've done it again: two sugars, one cream.

They're two different girls: black coffee and two sugars, one cream.

Jordan is the aching girl, just trying to mend you.

You're the faking girl, with the plastic smile.

You remember she used to be pretty girl, but she isn't anymore, because now she's the fairy tale girl who doesn't exist.

When you close your eyes at night, you're going to remember the way she used to watch you fall asleep, one arm tucked under her head and her eyes on you, and you're going to watch how Jordan falls asleep as soon as she hits the pillow, and you're going to remember how she used to be up with the sunrise, but Jordan sleeps as long as the day will allow.

You're going to remember that Emily was gone then, off to places you can't pronounce, with people whose names you'll never know and you're going to remember that she asked you to come and you said no and you're going to remember that Ambassador Prentiss didn't even call you to tell you what happened; that she called Hotch.

You're going to remember that she takes her coffee with two sugars, one cream, and that even after a year and a half sometimes you still add it to your coffee; that even after seven months of sleeping with Jordan, because she seems brassy and tough and just like a superhero at first, you still forget she's not Emily and she's not invincible.

Although, now, you guess, Emily isn't too invincible either.

"I brought you coffee," you tell her in a half-whisper, placing the mug in the least obtrusive spot on the desk, your eyes fixated on your hands, trying to make sure they don't shake.

She catches your eye, holds your gaze, lets her fingers slide across yours briefly. "Thanks," she says just as softly.

You find yourself smiling, grinning even. "You're welcome Emily," you utter almost merrily.

In the reflection of the glass doors, as you glide toward your office, you see Jordan's smile drop ever-so-slightly and you watch her take a tentative sip of coffee and you watch her shoulders almost slump in relief when she tastes the untainted bitter liquid.

You take a healthy gulp of your own coffee.

Two sugars, one cream.

It's an odd way to drink coffee.

The End

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