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SPOILERS: 4x03 Minimal Loss.

Different Now
By gilligankane


When the people a person needs get taken away from them, you can't ever go back to the way you were before.


You're different now, all guns blazing and rule breaking. A vigilante, someone says, from the back of the room. A rogue agent, someone else says. It doesn't matter what they call you, because you're not listening to them; you're not listening to the way they hold their breath when you stride – stride – past them, as if they're afraid that you're going to go off like a top and finally just break.

They expect you to break, because that's what you would have done.

But you're different now.

You're rushing into burning buildings and gunpowder stains your fingers, getting into the cracks in your skin and settling there. You're making assumptions and accusations and you're hotheaded and irrational and no one seems to have the courage to stop you, so you gather steam and rush headlong into the next case, intent on kicking someone's ass – intent on firing that gun one more time.

Maybe one of these days, the gun will be pointed at you and the trigger will be pulled. Maybe that won't be so bad.


You're different now, all hard-set features and skeptical eyes. A bitch, someone mutters under their breath. Just dealing, someone else fires back defensively. You prefer to think of it as finally accepting who you are, who you were meant to be, the real person you are that you spent your entire life hiding from.

People expect you to get over it, to maybe crack the mask you're wearing.

But you're different now.

You don't smile, because it hurts when the corner of your mouth twitches upward and pain was the first thing to go when you reinvented yourself.

You don't smile because you're done pretending that you're happy; you're done pretending that "everything happens for a reason" and you're done believing in the idea that someday it'll get better.


You're different now, all silent and brooding. Losing touch, someone says in passing. Hanging onto the past, someone else says loud enough for the words to sneak into your ears and settle in your head.

Everyone expects that you'll get over it soon enough; that you'll just get tired of the silence and the words that they think are being screamed inside your head and that you'll snap and the words will just erupt out of you sooner or later.

But you're different now.

You're silent because there's nothing left to say. You said everything you needed to say – all the unspoken words and the broken promises – to the headstone in the quiet corner of the cemetery, because she's finally in one place long enough for you to say what you're thinking, with all the awkward pauses and stuttering. You're silent because they don't need to know.

And with the silence comes the brooding and the two give you enough distance from the team so that you can breathe properly.


You're different now, all elusive and under the radar, content in sitting back and watching people make fools of themselves, wondering if you looked as incompetent as they do, back when you gave a shit. A danger, someone has the gall to announce. A problem, someone says in agreement.

It seems like everyone expects you to want to talk about it.

But you're different now.

You get your coffee in the morning and camp out at your desk, avoiding eye contact and keeping your head down. You get invites to go out and have celebratory drinks but you ignore them with a grim frown, because there's nothing to celebrate anymore.

You stop answering Garcia's phone calls and stop laughing at Morgan's jokes and you don't even make the effort to tell Reid to shut his pretentious, know-it-all mouth.

Flying under the radar lets you be invisible – something you never were before – and it doesn't take you as long to get used it as you thought it would.


You're different now, all alcohol and one night stands, waking up in places you don't remember driving to, next to the warm bodies you don't remember touching the night before. An addict, you hear in passing on your way into work, wearing the same shirt as the day before. A whore, someone mutters over their coffee mug.

People expect you to be celibate for the rest of your natural life, for some reason you can't fathom.

But you're different now.

Now, you get out the office and find the nearest bar, and the easiest girl who looks nothing like her. Now, you throw back drink after drink and wait as you feel the world start to spin under your feet and until she leans over and whispers into your ear ("Wanna get out here?"). Now, you stumble into hotel rooms hastily paid for with cash and you get lost in the bed sheets and the memories.

Now, you wake up and leave without shame, heading home to change if there's time, and if there's not, heading to the office. You ignore the looks they give you, the stares that rake down your face in disgust, because they don't know what it's like.

Sometimes, you wish they did. Maybe they'd understand then.


You're different now, all stand-offish and holding people at arm's length. Not doing her job, someone tells Hotch. Not pulling her weight, someone else tells him as you wonder when it was that people automatically "gave" you this position on the team.

It's like they expect you to be compassionate and understanding, and maybe it's because you're a woman or maybe it's because you used to be compassionate, just a little bit.

But you're different now.

Instead of sad, sympathetic glances, you stare at the victims in disdain. 'It's their own damn fault' is what you want to tell them, because they left the backdoor open, or they stared at that one guy for an unnatural amount of time, or they were so obnoxiously looking for someone to knock them down a peg or two.

Instead of shooting the boys remonstrative glances, they look at you as if they're seeing a completely selfish, heartless bitch of a person. They are.

You don't care, because every time you see a bruised face, or a dead body, and every time someone else's blood coats your fingers and mixes in with the gunpowder staining your hands, all you think about is her.

And how she's not here.

And how they just don't understand.


You're different now, all someone else and not even a glimmer of who you used to be.

They watch you from a distance, and instead of reaching out a hand – a hand to help, or to take the shaking gun from you, or to pour you another drink – they just watch you. They watch you and instead of trying to help you, they just talk.

A vigilante Hotch says.

A rogue agent Rossi says.

A bitch Reid says.

Just dealing Morgan says.

Losing touch Hotch says.

Hanging onto the past Rossi says.

A danger Reid says.

A problem Morgan says.

An addict Hotch says.

A whore Rossi says.

Not doing her job Reid says.

Not pulling her weight Morgan says.

They watch you as if they expect you to flip a switch and instantly be the old JJ who laughed over the rim of her coffee mug; the old JJ who wrapped distraught victims in tight embraces and whispered "it's okay" over and over again; the old JJ who kept the team moral up; the old JJ who was cool and calm and calculated.

But cool and calm and calculated was what kept you standing under that tent in the Colorado heat and it's what kept you rooted in place with those headphones pressed against the side of your head, listening to that son of a bitch hit her again and again.

Cool and calm and calculated was what kept her shouting "I can take it. I can take it!" when she clearly couldn't.

Cool and calm and calculated was what kept Hotch and Rossi and Morgan – the people who could save her – from busting into the compound with guns drawn and eyes blazing.

Cool and calm and calculated got Emily killed.

You're different now: rash and quick to judge and hot-headed, because if you had been all those things before Benjamin Cyrus then maybe it would have ended differently. Maybe Reid wouldn't have been the only one to walk away, if you had done something and not stood by like the weak person you used to be.

It's your fault that no one tried to save her, because you didn't speak up and you didn't force Hotch to make a decision like you should have.

It's your fault…


You're different now, all tough on the outside and tougher on the inside. Going to break soon enough Garcia says when she thinks you can't hear her.

But gunpowder stains your fingers and your heart and you're different now, not weak and scared and frightened.

People expected you to cry, to quit the BAU, to not be able to get out of bed for a month or two, but you're different now and you're not going lie around.

Not when you could be breaking down doors and taking people away from their loved ones, just like she was taken away from you.

The End

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