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Once upon a night
By Kristina K
Dale Carnegie once said: Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.
They were in Savannah, Georgia this time. It was a quiet summer night, chilly but quite soothing after the heavy humidity of the day pressing on them right before that big and loud thunderstorm hit, then passed, almost as quickly as it began.
Seeing so much violence in a city as beautiful as Savannah, gripped Emily Prentiss even harder than it usually had. It was at complete odds, the brutality she had witnessed while working this case, with the sights and the beauty of the downtown city area where it all happened. She pulled on her cardigan and wrapped it tighter around her body to keep warm.
JJ found her sitting atop a wide wooden balcony rail, slightly obscured by the dimness of the night and flower pots that hung from the overhead beam spilling their yellow and red flowers down like fountains of color. With her back propped against a red brick wall, Emily's eyes stared off into the distance. She had that look almost every time, JJ noticed, when they worked a particularly tough case Emily had a hard time coping with, but was too disinclined to actually show it to anyone on the team.
"Hey." JJ's voice was soft as if she didn't want to spook the other woman. Still, Emily's head quickly turned around and her eyes blinked confusedly at her young colleague.
"Hi," Emily replied just as softly and then frowned a little while trying to pick up JJ's features in the dark. Her hair was tied back with that almost cheeky lock of hair falling across her forehead and into her eyes. She walked up slowly and as she approached, Emily saw the two glasses JJ held in her hands. A suspicious, murky auburn liquid filled the tumblers about three-quarters up.
"Here," JJ offered her a glass, "you look like you could use one of these."
"What is it?"
JJ smiled mysteriously, "It's my secret concoction," she said. "JJ's brew." When Emily lifted an eyebrow at her explanation, JJ chuckled. "Just try it. It's good. But careful, it's strong. Small sips. It'll warm you up and hug you and make you feel all cozy inside."
"Sounds illegal." Emily quipped as she brought the glass to her lips. JJ tilted her head to the side, watching out for the reaction after Emily took a sip. "Oh dear god!" Emily rasped and then coughed as the liquor burned its way down her throat and then settled in the pit of her stomach. The fire spread through her blood and warmed her up just like a hot summer sun would. "Wow," she said after a moment, impressed.
"Why, thank you." JJ laughed and then took one sip, herself.
"I never pegged you to be a cocktail master, agent Jareau."
"I have a few hidden talents."
Emily lowered her voice to a conspiratory whisper. "Which are they?"
"How 'bout you," JJ rocked on the balls of her feet closer to Emily, then away from her cradling the glass in her hands. "You keeping anything hidden?"
"Dark secrets, skeletons in the closet type of things?" Emily shook her head. "I did steal a Rubik's cube from my friend in second grade..."
"You know that's not what I mean."
JJ's eyes were crystal blue even in the darkness and Emily found it hard not to smile albeit weakly at their curious sparkle. "I know," she sighed heavily and then looked into the distance again.
JJ took a step closer, eventually leaning against the railing with her hip. "You know, it's okay not to be okay. We all break under the weight of the job from time to time. We're only human."
Without looking at JJ, Emily quietly said, "Remember how you asked me once, when I first started in the B.A.U., how nothing of it gets to me?"
JJ remembered. "You said you compartmentalize better than most people."
Emily nodded sadly, drowning them in silence for a long moment, then: "I think my compartments are full."
"It just fills me with so much sadness," Emily squeezed through her teeth as if she wanted to say rage instead, and returned her gaze to here and now, to young Jennifer Jareau and her perfect, flawless face, big, big, almost childlike eyes, and that knowing, compassionate look in them. "I even sit here and think to myself, what's the point? We deal with this, today. Tomorrow, there will be someone new, doing something even more gruesome to somebody else, in some other town." After another moment of silence and no response from the younger agent, Emily admitted dejectedly: "I sound jaded."
"Drink up," JJ nudged Emily's glass-holding hand up. "You may sound jaded now, but after this you'll sound drunk. And tomorrow you'll be ready to kick some bad guy ass all over again."
Despite herself, Emily smiled and took another sip of JJ's special blend. It shook her even harder the second time. "No wonder you're the communications liaison. People buy everything you say, you wrap it all so nicely."
"I'm not giving you a speech, Em." JJ hugged the glass she held close to her chest. "I'm telling you how I see it."
After one more, bolder, sip of her drink, Emily closed her eyes and tilted her head back against the wall and let out a long sigh. "If only everything and everyone were so sincere."
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