DISCLAIMER: All herein belong to CBS and its affiliates, not me. Not profit was made, no disrespect intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I haven’t written in first person in quite a while, but racethewind10 inspired me with her lovely introspective from Emily’s POV. This is from JJ’s POV and falls after episode 03x11. No real spoilers. This story assumes an established relationship, so it's set in my own personal CM world, sometime after “Message in a Bottle” and “Answer”. Yes, I have my own personal CM world. We can all dream, can't we? *bg*
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
In the picture, she's smiling. Not one of those polite, half-smiles that she must have learned to use at monotonous embassy parties, standing diffidently at her parents' side; one that touched the corners of those full lips but never quite washed away the distant expression of wistful resignation in her eyes. I've seen that smile, too. Usually, it comes after one of her monthly conversations with her mother.
This isn't one of those smiles. This is a smile of utter contentment, of happiness; a no-holds-barred grin of joy. The smile that splinters my heart into so many shards of glass that I know I'll never be able to put it back together. Not that I want to.
Her arms are wrapped around me from behind. We're both laughing at some horrible pun Garcia made as she took the picture, my own smile as wide and unrestrained as hers. I don't usually smile that way, either.
I've seen enough photos of myself over the years to know that the girl from East Allegheny has never quite left me. I've seen her peering furtively out of my face, her discontent like a shadow across the frame; a double exposure that only I can see, a blurred image that belies who I've become.
But that girl isn't in this picture. There's only me, me and Emily, her dark eyes flashing, hair tumbling across her forehead, her cheek pressed against mine. Her arms embrace me like a shield, fragile armor of skin and muscle and bone. I know there is more protection in them than in the heavy weight of Kevlar or the hard metal of my gun.
The angled light from the late afternoon sun is so lush and golden that you can see it, rays of light like ribbons of rich amber against the clear, thin blue of the winter sky behind us. Our skin reflects the supple light, complexions turned to pale gold, like a sculpture I remember seeing of a long dead Egyptian queen, skin like the finest honey.
The picture sits on my coffee table. I should probably be a bit more discreet and move it to the bedroom, but honestly, aside from Garcia and Morgan, Emily is my only regular visitor. Besides, I like to be able to sit on the couch and look at it when she isn't here.
I know, I see her everyday. Most nights, depending on whether or not we're working a case. We've worked hard to maintain some distance, to keep a barrier between the job and us. And most of the time we succeed.
Except lately, it seems harder. There are cases like this one, when I just want her to wrap her arms around me and make me forget the monsters out there. But she can't, and I can't expect her to banish my demons. She has plenty of her own.
But the Emily I see at work isn't this Emily, the one smiling at me from a heavy sterling frame. The Emily at work is warm and compassionate and professional. She's amazing at her job. But she isn't mine. Not there.
It's only when we're alone, or with Garcia and Derek, that she's my Emily. So, sometimes, like tonight, when I go home alone, the picture is the one thing that makes any of it real.
It isn't that I have issues with reality. If anything, my life is too real. The photos I look at all day are not like this one. In them, there is only blood and fear and death. No happiness. No joy. And there are days when that is all I can see. The world reduced to its most basic elements.
Most of the time, love isn't one of them.
There were days, more than I like to admit, when I didn't believe it when someone told me otherwise. Until Emily.
Now I know that, if only for the moment in time frozen on this glossy paper, love is real and possible. And that is a reality that I need to believe in.
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