DISCLAIMER: Criminal Minds and its characters are the property of CBS. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: An attempt to get my muse back into gear. She refuses to do proper plot these days but agreed to try drabbles. This is the result. She still sticks her tongue out at me when I politely ask her for a proper story. I suppose beggars canít be choosers. A big thank you to darandkerry for the beta and the title help.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Silently, Emily marvelled at the painting. Even after many years, it never failed to draw a soft breath from her lungs and create a void in her chest that, for seconds, held a vacuum blindly clutching for something to fill it. Emily turned and quietly watched as JJ took a step backwards, her hands balled into fists as her eyes roamed across the canvas restlessly. Remembering the first time she'd stood in this spot, Emily allowed JJ this moment for herself and returned her gaze to the painting. This time, the void was filled with the certainty that JJ understood.
Her fingertips rested motionlessly on the transparent barrier that separated them from the Blue Morpho. As a child, JJ had collected butterflies, but as she'd grown older, she'd become appalled at the thought of trapping delicate wings beneath hard glass, a pure life extinguished for her to look at. She'd thrown away all but one of the unfortunate creatures.
"You know why I kept this one?"
Emily looked over JJ's shoulder. "To remind yourself that evil could begin with a butterfly."
JJ stared at the frame in her lap. In the glass, she saw Emily's reflection merging with her own.
Her voice cracked when JJ hurled words at Emily, and her heart cracked when words were flung back at her with twice the harshness. When she looked into dark eyes, she found herself incapable of arguing any longer, devastated by the unwillingness to back down she found in them, barely concealing the sadness. And then she fled, no more anger left, drained from her by a single glance, only hurt in its place now. She knew that she'd come back, always come back; and she knew that Emily knew, and somehow, that made the pain a little easier to bear.
At the funeral, JJ's fingers slipped into Emily's trembling hand unobtrusively, unseen by anyone around them. As far as they were concerned, the blonde woman standing so close to Emily was merely a friend. Any further touch seemingly inappropriate given the situation, Emily drew her strength from that tiny contact, focusing on the slight roughness of JJ's knuckles so as to not lose her composure. Her fingers clung to skin cold from the winter air as her mind, overwhelmed with grief, desperately clawed for this lifeline of knowing comfort. JJ held on tightly, praying that it was enough for now.
Outside, a fierce storm crushed the city without remorse, lashing into half-hidden faces, wrenching umbrellas from hands to carry them away, tearing roof tiles from buildings. In its rage, it ripped everything apart it could get a violent grasp on, intent on proving that nature could still defy man and humble him mercilessly. Inside, heartbeats stilled, for the length of a breath only, and fingers intertwined. No one was defied as two equally strong forces met, not in a battle, but in something similarly powerful. The storm subsided, fingers stilled, and hearts intertwined, for the length of a lifetime only.
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