Just a little one-shot that I realized I had to get written down before I could finish the longer story I have in-progress right now. It's unrelated but wouldn't leave me alone! Thanks for reading!

Facing Reality

She had doubts about hiring them five minutes after meeting them. An hour into Mexican airspace, she was in awe of the bond that the four of them shared. By the end of the first day, she was seeking out an explanation for the feeling she got from being near them, why the air around them seemed to be charged with electricity. They were less than surprised, explained it to her with varying descriptions but by the same name.

The Jazz.

She boiled it down to an adrenaline rush, even worried slightly that she was in the presence of a bunch of dare devils that could get her killed. In the end, anticipation and excitement won out over worry and she decided she kind of liked this thing called Jazz. She spent hours watching them, studying their dynamic - research for the book she planned to pen one day - and after Mexico, it didn't take her long to realize the Jazz was so much more than adrenaline. Tempting fate and staring death in the face was only part of it. That rush came from the way they worked together. Communicated without words. Could read each other at a glance. Instinctively knew what each man would do, what they needed and when. Four distinctly different men, working together so seamlessly that they thought and acted as one. The Jazz was in them, flowed through them. The Jazz was them.

At first it had been fun. She reveled in her small part in the pursuit of justice, the defeat of oppression and intimidation. She was fine with being relegated to, at worst, researcher from the relative safety of her office in LA and at best, sentry over the van in whatever small town they happened to be in. When they allowed her to help with a scam, she didn't mind being the dame, the broad, the airheaded ditz to whom no one paid any attention. Until she did. She found herself longing to shoot guns and quip at the bad guys, make plans and save the day - not be someone's arm candy. She couldn't pinpoint the exact day or even week that it had happened but what started out as requests and suggestions, eventually turned into complaints. Her eagerness morphed into frustration and started to manifest itself as eye rolls and snide comments. Face took the brunt of it. She wasn't even sure why. If he was hurt or confused by her gradual change in demeanor towards him, he never let it show. Hannibal was a different matter. If she had known him better or paid more attention, she might have picked up on his growing impatience with her attitude.

Not so suddenly, they took her along less and less and stopped calling as much. Hannibal felt no compunction to provide any explanation. BA and Face were indifferent. Murdock was the only one that showed her any sympathy. It was in his eyes when her questions went unanswered. The small smile he shot her way when someone talked over her like she wasn't in the room.

She hadn't had contact with them for several weeks when her reporter friend in Texas needed help with a crooked Sheriff. They might not have taken her along, except the client was her friend and they needed someone to play the wife to Face's Candidate-for-Sheriff persona.

Afterwards, when she was back in her apartment in LA, coming down from the thrill of another successful mission, the quote that Face had requested from Hannibal while he stood atop the semi-trailer kept running through her mind. She was sure it had been meant to show Decker that she was not affiliated with the Team but she worried that it was also meant to show her that she never would be.

The transfer to Foreign Correspondent in Jakarta was waiting for her when she arrived at the office the next morning. She sat at her desk, arguments for why she should stay, a case for her importance, were buzzing around her head when a floral bouquet was delivered less than ten minutes later. The message on the card was simple, succinct. Unambiguous.

Congrats on your promotion!

-TAT

Stunned, she stared at the little card, it's message hastily scrawled in block letters.

She had prayed her time with them would last, feared it wouldn't, spent the better part of a year denying what she had always known deep down - she could never really be a part of what they were. She had followed them anywhere, anytime in the name of a good story or a front-page headline, but in truth she had wanted to belong with them so badly that she felt the loss as a physical sensation before the word 'transfer' had even left Eldridge's mouth. It didn't matter where she was going or that it was a great career opportunity - of course it was a great career opportunity, Face was incapable of any less - but she was still being dismissed, deprived of the world she had strived to belong to. It hurt and the pain had nowhere to go.

In the end, she didn't argue. Didn't plead or even ask why. She wrote them a letter thanking them for the past year, for the opportunity to advance her career and offered them a place to stay if they were ever in Jakarta. She addressed the envelope to the VA in Westwood and dropped it in the mailbox at the airport. As she boarded the plane that would take her to her new life, she was grateful that she was leaving with no fanfare. They would have known she would try to stay if given half a chance. A clean break was easier - for now. She still had that book to write.