DISCLAIMER: Criminal Minds and its characters are the property of CBS. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: As Iíve telling anyone and everyone who will listen (and a few who probably didn't), this is my first story in two years. My first femslashy oriented ficÖ Well, there was that one with Janeway and Seven some years back and that was more or a friend/mentor thingÖ Anyway, Iím rambling. Please be kind. R&R! Special thanks to Em, for beta-reading and for her input.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
"I can't sleep," she said when I opened my door to see her standing there, her blonde hair covered with snow. She was shivering from the cold. It was just after two am, and I guess I should've been surprised to see her behind my motel room door but I wasn't.
"Come on in and sit down," I told her, grasping her arm and pulling her in.
As I closed the door behind me, she took her coat and dropped it unceremoniously on a nearby chair. But instead of sitting she slowly paced around the room. Without even asking if she wanted any, I started making tea using the electric water kettle that came with the room. She was still shivering and looked almost blue. I wondered how long she'd been walking outside before ending up behind my door.
While the water was taking its own sweet time to boil, I took the opportunity to study her. She was tired, her normally vivacious nature subdued. But it was more than that. She looked almost defeated, as if the pain and the confusion were being buried deep inside and left there.
Her silence also worried me. I knew the case we were presently on had us all shaken up, but for some reason JJ seemed to have taken it the hardest. Unsure if she actually wanted to talk or just be in a room with another living, breathing person, I decided not to pressure her and so the silence continued. At first I didn't mind, but when I caught myself hoping for the umpteenth time that it'd be me warming her up instead of her rubbing her arms to create warmth, I started wishing she'd at least say something. I needed to drag my mind from the gutter.
"I'm sorry about just barging in," she offered a minute later when I was pouring hot water in the mugs.
"No need to apologize. I wasn't sleeping either, just laying in bed, tossing and turning," I said and tried not to wince at how the words sounded to my ears. It was true, though. I'd been in bed well before midnight but I hadn't been able to sleep, the case heavily weighing on my mind.
"I can't forget her face."
"Kelly?" I asked, though without her confirmation I knew. I thought about the little six year old girl with her beautiful dark hair matted and her big blue eyes empty of life. As cases went, this was from the worst end I'd been involved with so far.
JJ sat on the bed, leaning against the headboard and accepted the tea I offered. I sat on the bed opposite her, and waited for her to continue.
Taking a tentative sip she met my eyes for the first time after I'd let her in. "It's not like we've never seen this before. I can't I don't even know why this is affecting me this way."
"I sometimes think that I'm getting used to it. The victims, their families, shattered lives Then a new case comes along and it hits me hard. They don't even usually have any special meaning, they're not more horrific than any other, but for some reason they just hit me," I told her. "But I think it's a sign of our humanity, a reminder that while we might be in the position to grow as numb to the suffering as the monsters we hunt, we don't become like them. We know how they think and what makes them do the things they do, but we see the injustice of their actions. And when the job gets to me I remind myself that it's a good thing that it does."
"I guess that's the only way to look at it," JJ said quietly.
"Well that or then do what I really do 'cos that never helps."
That raised her eyebrow.
"Lie under the covers and watch mindless TV until I fall asleep," I explained, and took pleasure in the small smile gracing her lips.
JJ grabbed the remote control from the bedside table while I moved to sit next to her. The bed was a double bed, but we sat close enough that we could both lean on each other for support. I vetoed a rerun of Ugly Betty while JJ skipped past reruns of several reality shows, the Waltons and Dexter. Finally settling on yet another rerun, but this one Law & Order SVU, something we both agreed on.
About two hours, an SVU episode and two Will & Grace episodes later I switched off the TV. I looked at JJ who had fallen asleep while Benson and Stabler were still gathering evidence and talking to witnesses. I knew I should just go and sleep in the other bed, but I found myself reluctant to leave her side. Besides, I told myself, while she'd been sleeping JJ had migrated even closer and I didn't want to risk waking her now that she was finally asleep. Refusing to listen to the little voice inside my head which told me this was not wise, I convinced myself that it was the practical thing to do. Laying down I shifted just slightly in an effort to change the position. At some point my arm had become trapped under JJ's back and it was already numb. Unfortunately my movements managed to stir up JJ. I looked at her, but could barely discern her face in the darkness of the room. I held my breath, hoping she wouldn't bolt.
"You fell asleep a while ago."
"Wh Oh sorry," I could feel her tensing.
"It's okay, really," I assured her.
"I guess I should go," she said, her voice barely a whisper. I wanted to pull her closer to make sure she didn't leave.
"You don't have to. I mean Unless you want to. Do you?"
There was a long, heavy silence before she breathed her answer. "No."
Her 'no' was the best 'yes' I'd ever heard.
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