DISCLAIMER: Criminal Minds and its characters are the property of CBS. No infringement intended.
SPOILERS: 2x12 Profiler Profiled, 2x15 Revelations, 2x22 Legacy, 3x08 Lucky, 3x14 Damaged, 3x22 Lo-Fi
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

From Here To There
By gilligankane


The yellow lines blur under the wheels of her car, and it takes substantial effort to drag her eyes from the lines, to focus them on the oncoming traffic. She can't get the blurring lines out of her head though, and as soon as traffic is no longer a threat, her crystal blue eyes seek them out again.

Watching something that permanent become a mass of yellow splashed against black top makes her feel like there's hope in this world, and that it's okay if her whole life isn't in order.

The yellow lines had suddenly appeared as soon as she turned off the dirt road that led back to where her life began. She had tried to get away, to find her balance again, but all it resulted in was anger, frustration and loneliness.

She's never been very good on her own, not really.

Those lines were going to lead her home, lead her straight back to where she never should have left. There's a desk waiting for her, Hotch assures her. With a whole lot of paperwork stacked on it, he says, trying to make a joke and failing miserably. She laughs anyway, because it's Hotch, and he's lonely, and he probably thought it was a funny joke.

She's trying to go home again, but it's not as easy as it seems.

She tries Pennsylvania first, surrounded by her brothers and their families. But its cold and lonely there and she has no one to take to family dinners and so help her if her mother asks her about getting married just one more time.

She went home and decided that it wasn't really home.

Which is why she got back on the freeway, crossed a couple of state lines, and ended up in mid-morning D.C. traffic, staring at yellow lines in between street signs and stop lights. She's tempted to lay on the horn, but she's never been one of those people, so she sits and waits, fiddles with the radio station and settles on classic rock.

Traffic inches slowly by, taking its sweet time, and it's mid-afternoon when she finally reaches the Bureau. She breathes a sigh of relief, wondering why it doesn't feel as good to be back as she thought it would.

It should have felt like coming home and instead, she already feels overworked and tired and resentful.

She sits in her car, ignores her cell phone and decides to people watch for a while.

Every brunette reminds her of Emily.

Every smile, every laugh, every face she sees is Emily's.

Her phone rings from the passenger seat, but she ignores it and watches the people instead.

She could fit in with them, she notices. She's so much of an All-American looking girl that no one would give her a second glance.

She's the perfect unsub, completely mixing in with the crowd.

She shakes the thought out of her head, angry that the idea even came to her mind. She's not a profiler; she's a press liaison. She was a press liaison.

She can't be here; she can't be in this city, in this place, at this job. The strain of expectation weighs down upon her with such a heavy force she can't breathe.

People expect her to be broken; people expect her not be able to look them in the eye. She's not a child; she's capable of moving on with her life.

Morgan, it turns out, was molested as a child. He dealt.

Reid was kidnapped, killed, revived, and given a drug habit. He got over it.

Hotch put his family head to head with his job, and his job won. He managed.

Garcia was shot. She moved on.

Rossi let a case plague his life for 20 years. He's fine now.

JJ wasn't the one in the car. There's nothing she needs to move on from.

She's not angry, or bitter. She's just learned to…compartmentalize. She's filed the entire New York incident in her head and she's come to the same conclusion no matter how many times she filed it away:

Emily's gone.

Emily is not coming back.

JJ can stop waiting for Emily to walk through doorways, or suddenly show up at her apartment.

Emily's gone.

Emily's not coming back.

There's no sense in wishing for things to be different, because they aren't and they won't be. It's called dealing, and she's not having a problem doing it.

And then it hits her. She should move on. This job is holding her back, these people – her family – want what's best for her, but can't do anything but handle her with kid gloves.

She stronger than that.

But here, she doesn't fit anymore. It's not like before. There's tension, tension, as thick as black smoke, and no one can look her in the eyes.

No one can see that she's moved on. That she's trying to get on with her life. They're the ones holding her back this time.

The yellow lines blur under her wheels, but her shades are pulled down low and she's not looking at the lines anymore.

The horizon is a little too bright, but when she gets from here to there, by the time she makes it wherever she wants to go, the sun will probably have set and risen too many times to count. She'll get used to it.

She's learning how to deal a little more everyday.

She wants to go home, but Emily's gone now, and she doesn't know where that is anymore.

So she moves on.

The End

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