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This Time
By Kristina K


Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength; loving someone deeply gives you courage.
      Lao Tzu


Every time she drew her weapon, Jennifer Jareau saw her life flashing before her eyes. She saw a dandelion-sprinkled turf behind her aunt's house, her first day of school and how she was barely tall enough to see over the teacher's desk when she was called out to introduce herself before the class. Anthony Wilcox and his timid peck on her lips – the first kiss she ever got. She remembered the pain of the broken arm after falling off the ladder while hiding in Melanie Sander's attic. The day she was named captain of her varsity soccer team. The moment she found the acceptance letter and a full scholarship from University of Pittsburgh in her mail – her ticked out of that god-forsaken town she grew up in. Seeing her name on the FBI accreditation for the very first time. The day Emily Prentiss introduced herself to her with a smile.

This time, the gun was heavy in her hand.

Her service pistol didn't sit right in her palm, it felt awkward, as if it wanted to slip out from her fingers and leave her unprotected. So she griped on the handle, tighter. So tight her arms began to tremble. The index finger of her right hand tickled the trigger, tapped on the side of it nervously. Her eyes grew dark a while ago and now they were just like two endless black holes in the vastness of the universe, waiting their chance to draw everyone and everything in. And her eyes were taunting, too; focused at the person staring back at her as if they were saying: go on, I dare you.

He's not a fool; he could see the resolve written all over her. Or maybe it was a total surrender to fate that he could read from her features. The way she stood. The way her body tensed up when she noticed him. The sound of her voice when she barked: "Freeze! FBI!"

She killed a man once before. Steady. Aim. Fire. Just like that. She didn't blink, she didn't think and she never regretted it, either. The mandatory leave of absence, the psych counseling that every agent must go though after being involved in a shooting, the IAB hearing and endless amounts of paperwork she had to deal with because of that one bullet she fired, never unnerved her a single bit. Agent Jareau went through all of it with calmness, self-assurance and clear dignity of a committed federal agent. As soon as she closed the door of the house she considered her sanctuary, a bastion that separated her from whatever it was wrong with the world, she broke down. Somewhere deep inside of her heart she felt so alone and small.

The back up wasn't there yet even though she called them long before she stepped inside of the rundown house. She knew better than to go in alone, but something inside her told her that it was now or never. Catch him now or lose the track of him forever.

The place was dirty, grim and dark. She inched forward – Glock in one hand, SureFire in the other. Jennifer Jareau followed the path a strong beam of light uncovered in front of her. Every, even the smallest sound, resonated in her ears. Even the slightest change in the current of air registered on her skin. Right before she took the last turn at the end of the hallway, she realized that there was not a single shred of fear inside of her. Her heart pumped pure adrenaline.

"Keep your hands out where I can see them," she commanded, keeping a tight aim on the man.

At first, he stood, a little confused at the sight of her; her tousled blonde hair, the wrinkled and dirty clothes, an inch gash just under her hairline that left a bloody trail down the side of her forehead and cheek and then dripped onto the lapel of her shirt. And when he took the sight of her in, he even smiled a little before his hands flew forward. She simply squeezed the trigger one, two, three times. Before the fourth shot got fired, she was already in a daze.

There was a thump against her chest. A muffled thud on her right side, just above her heart. A mute feeling of something fast hitting and then pushing her off balance. Jennifer gasped, but couldn't draw in enough air to fill her lungs.

On a misty spring morning, she stood barefooted among dandelion-sprinkled turf behind her aunt's house. On her first day of school she knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up. Anthony Wilcox would have never kissed her if she didn't lean into him first. The arm she had broken that summer, right before her fifteenth birthday, took nine weeks to heal. They lost their first soccer match with her as a captain of the team. The moment that acceptance letter came, she felt invincible. She looked a few years older than she actually was on her FBI accreditation picture.

And then she saw Emily's face, and when her voice softly said "Hold on, JJ," she knew everything is going to be all right.

The End

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