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A Lack Of Color
By gilligankane


You're on your seventh – or eighth – glass and you're like a train wreck: nothing is going to stop you now. No one but you knows the relevance of today, of the weighty meaning of the calendar date, and even if you told them…they would still stare at you in shock as you twirled around the dance club, shaking and moving with anyone who will buy you a drink.

Morgan – under Garcia's request – slings an arm around your waist, pulling you away from your latest dancing partner – a stocky guy with spike hair and a leering smile – and steers you in the direction of the table, where Hotch can barely hold back his shock.

"What's the matter Ho-tch," you yell in his ear, dragging his name out slowly. "Never seen a girl dance before?" You waggle your eyebrows suggestively, and laugh when he physically reels, pulling back and putting distance between the two of you.

You know what they're thinking. They're thinking that you only got here an hour ago. They're thinking that it's only 6:45 and you've already had seven beers. They're thinking that you should go home before you hurt yourself, or before you end up going home with someone else.

They don't understand though. They don't get it.

It's been a year to the day…

You drown the thoughts with your next shot and you don't even feel it burn on the way down.

Garcia is holding your hand under the table, actively restraining you from sliding across the room towards tall, dark and handsome at the bar who's been staring at you for the last ten minutes.

"Garcia," you say in a low, threatening voice, with a smile.

"Don't," she hisses in your ear, loud enough to get your full attention. You turn towards her slowly and see the fire in her eyes and it's like a switch: almost instantaneously, you're practically whimpering under her steel gaze. You know that this should get her to ease up, but the grip on your hand just becomes tighter and the frown grows deeper and darker.

The room becomes smaller and you're starting to sweat. Reid won't look you in the eyes and Morgan is staring into his beer mug, moving the glass in circles, swirling the amber liquid. Hotch is still leaning away from you.

You're being ridiculous.

You need to throw up.

Somehow you break Garcia's death grip and push your way through gyrating bodies into the dimly lit hallway, your eyes swimming with tears of exhaustion and frustration. You feel yourself collapsing against the wall, your legs bending and cushioning you from resting on the floor completely.

You were an idiot to think you could get through the night in one piece.

A couple stumbles down the hallway in your direction, tugging on clothes and panting. They push their way into the women's restroom, but you don't feel like you're going to throw up anymore, so you lean your head against the cool brick behind you and cry.

"Sweetie…" You should have known that Garcia would follow you. She drops to her knees beside you and you immediately bury yourself in her arms, your sobs becoming uncontrollable.

"Oh baby," she mutters as you nestle further into her embrace. "It's going to be okay," is the last thing you hear her say before you let your exhaustion take over completely.

When you wake up, you're in your own bed, and Garcia has left an aspirin and a bottle of water on your nightstand. You look at the clock and do a double take: it's 7 in the morning and you're going to be late for work. But the note under the water bottle, written in Hotch's handwriting, tells you not to worry about work and to work on getting over the flu.

That's just like Hotch, to make up some completely idiotic excuse when all you need is a day to get over your hangover.

You're not going to complain.

Stifling a groan, you swing your legs over the side of the bed and rest your elbows on your knees, your hands cradling your pounding head. You can hear your head pulse in time with your heartbeat: thud, thud, thud, thud, in a slow, steady movement. Fumbling for the doorknob, you shuffle out of your room and down the hall, stopping in front of the refrigerator. It's only a moment's hesitation before you reach a shaking hand out and grasp the cold neck of the beer bottle.

Here is where the end of your life starts, in this decision to drink this beer instead of taking the aspirin.

Later, you'll be able to pinpoint it to this moment, as you're lying in that ditch with your chest rising and falling erratically, as blood seeps out of the wound in you thigh, as your radio crackles "Agent down!" You'll be lying in that ditch because you'll have finally decided it's not worth it anymore and that's why you'll let your guard down, because you've already had a beer or two or three and it's only mid-afternoon. You'll have let him get that shot off – a shot he would have never gotten had you been completely sober – and you'll hit the ground and you'll feel your life slip away and you'll remember exactly where it was that you made the decision to start to die a little each day.

But you don't know any of this right now, so you twist the top off and take a long sip, savoring the richness as it rolls along your tongue.

You waste the day away that way, as the beer bottles pile up on the coffee table. You've never really been able to hold your liquor – it's one of your more interesting flaws – and by the time the 5:00 news rolls around, you're almost rolling off the couch.

It's 7:03 when you pick up the phone.

Later, in the ditch, as you're dying, right before you're dead, you'll regret making that phone call.

Your fingers slip over the key pad, hitting numbers frantically, almost in a sporadic motion. It rings once, twice, three times, before someone picks up on the other end and you can't do anything but giggle like a love struck school girl.

"Hello?" It's exactly who you knew it would be and you laugh some more.

"Who is this?" You must be cackling louder than you thought, because someone is speaking on the other end of the line, but not into the receiver, and you almost don't hear it.

"Who is it?"

The laughter dies in your throat and your heart freezes instantly. You're falling apart in an instant.

"It's me," you whisper sullenly and you can hear her breath catch.

The background noise on her end dies and you can picture her in a dark closet, clutching the phone desperately. You hope that's what she's doing.

"Why are you calling?" She's not hiding in a closet. You're not her little well-kept secret. The background noise fading was just the headache rising up and swallowing you whole.

"Come home."

She sighs – an exasperated sigh, just like your mother used to give you when you failed to be the perfect offspring of the perfect woman. "Emily, don't do this…"

You jump in, your thoughts sloshing around in your head and your words slurring off your tongue.

"No! It can work this time and I can be better and I won't…I won't…I'll be better, you'll see." Your voice drops. "Just come home."

You wait for an answer, but all you can hear is her breathing, how loud and broken each breath sounds.


"I can be better," is all you tell her, and even when she hangs up and the loud sound of the dial tone is ringing in your ear, you're still telling her that you can be better, you can be better, you can be better.

You should have never called her. She won't come back. She's never coming back.

You open another beer and throw the empty one across the room, muttering about insufferable self-involved bitches, knowing that you're only talking about yourself, because she's anything but insufferable.

You shouldn't be calling her to come home – begging her to come home.

You should have given her a reason to stay.

As you die in that ditch, covered in blood and dust and frantic hands trying to keep you together, you realize that that's your biggest regret.

Years ago, when she told you she was leaving with him, you should have given her a reason stay.

Now, it doesn't really matter.

The End

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