title: affirmations
author: kristin
rating: pg-13
fandom: criminal intent
disclaimer: dick wolf owns them. I just pretend.
summary: She wasn't expecting death to be that deceptively inviting.
notes: I thought it'd be interesting to see how Eames would react to a very, very close call. So this is my interpretation, with a bit of a non-linear perspective

When it came to rest solidly against her skull, she was expecting an icy twinge to ripple through her. But it was warm and she wasn't expecting death to be that deceptively inviting. In every story she'd ever read, mortality bred icicles; corpses, with their absence of flowing blood, were cold to the touch. Life found a niche in the rays of the sun, and death flirted with eternal winters.

So it was all a contradiction and she started to think it might have something to do with why her thermostat hadn't gone above 74 degrees for the past two nights.

Numb fingers. Numb.

She thought Bobby would be able to explain everything, psychologically, but it wouldn't help.

He didn't have the answer to the question gnawing at her so incessantly it made her truly embody, for the first time, the visage of the sleepless, rumpled detective. This one, this was the one--

What do you do when you're trapped in the second between silence and the click of a gun, the click which could only mean--

The answer--

Red tea was a coy lover, with its steamy fingers and boiling liquid, because it was vibrant, churning through the mug until the stream ceased and the leaves settled at the bottom.

But it was red.

(and it was so alive.)

After two sips, she turned away with indifference. Too warm, tonight.

(too many fires, lately.)

And when he turned a key in her lock (damn presumptuous), she wrapped a worn afghan around her shoulders because tonight was all about firsts. And being somehow different, because of the phantom weight of a revolver.

"How's your head?"

But he already knew the answer.

And though the black-and-blue skin still made him wince, it wasn't at all why he came.

"Still attached, last time I looked. I can't speak for the stuff inside." Her right hand rubbed at the sore spot in what was meant to be a funny gesture, but which made her look, to him, like a young child trying to brush away a monstrous headache.

Still attached. Always one for the macabre, when applicable.

Still attached.

But the grey matter inside was unsettled and disjointed.

"Eames," he said, his right hand jutting into his pocket, "it's freezing in here."

She tugged on the corners of the afghan.

"Really? I hadn't noticed."

And it was a continuing game of contrasts, over and over. She was shying away from heat by burrowing into the cold, but then seeking a sort of warmth again. And there was no satisfaction and there was an itch spreading across her body that couldn't be stymied. The crook of his arm looked inviting, but it would be a natural warmth and in this sort of twisted purgatory, only the unnatural would do. He wasn't there when it happened, he was in another room, distracted. It was dark, but...

"Sort of grey."

His head shot up from its downward position and when his eyes really saw her, she wasn't sure she had anything more to say. And, briefly, wished he would leave.


She took a deep breath, with her back to him. (If she submitted to his offering, she wouldn't find the answer.)

"Bobby, I'm about to fall asleep." Even she didn't believe it.

He stepped towards her, his fingers whispering against the angry bruise. When his arm moved behind her shoulders, she pulled away, deciding the broken recliner was a much more inviting destination.

And out of the grey-does-matter zone, the world slowed and then erupted in red for a brief second, and then there was the muzzle of a gun at the back of her skull. She doesn't know how she remained conscious through the initial blow, but once she steadied, she was all too aware. The warm, warm muzzle, pushing and pushing into her head. She had never been so terrified, and yet, she drew her breaths evenly, her pulse slowing. What was happening? Was her body, somehow, preparing? And without words, without a chance to ruminate any further, the gun clicked off.

And she was dead.

It was much quieter than she'd anticipated, but everything is muted in the dark.

But Bobby didn't know. When he found her, she'd wrestled the assailant to the ground, cradling the revolver in her left hand. She smiled at him, a thin stream of blood trailing down her cheek.

"Eames?" He knelt before her, unwilling to let her pull away from the hand he rested on her arm.

"It was--"

What did it mean when death could feel like life? How would you know the difference?

"He had one bullet left. Russian roulette."

Bobby's grip on her arm tightened.

"I've always much preferred card games: Go Fish, Old Maid. Tame, though not without adventure. Those cards leave nasty paper cuts..."

He pulled her up from the chair, leading her to her bedroom. One step at a time. Rather than turn the thermostat up, he gathered an extra blanket.

And they were across from each other and it was a messy dance, at first, because they hadn't been here before. He went faster across her skin as he whispered disjointed Latin and Joan Baez (he only heard her through his mother, he swore) lyrics across her collarbone. The friction added heat to his lips and her skin began to tremble more from that sensation.

"It was warm, Bobby, it--"

He paused in his movements, pulling her closer and running a hand across her chest, slowly.

"This is life."

And a long, slow kiss stretches from her heart to her belly button, a fevered pitch gathering strength and her body fitting against his in an awkwardly perfect way.

And when his warmth erased every lingering chill, she smiled into the darkness.

She had an answer.

Life never whispered.