Criminal Minds and its characters are the creation of Jeff Davis and are copy written under CBS (as far as I can tell). No infringement upon their rights is intended. The stories written under the penname Gabigail, however, do belong to me. None are written for profit and are intended for entertainment purposes only.

Ever Changing Circumstances

— Ozona, Texas —

Cases that involved children were usually difficult for the team— in particular Special Agent Jason Gideon, who while upholding the façade of calmness, often allowed himself to become emotionally tied to the case; perhaps overly so at times. There was a collective sigh of relief to be going home, the SUVs approached the air strip and the team silently gathered their overnight bags before boarding the plane. Gideon hung back and to any of those who stole a quick glance, would have immediately sensed the black cloud that seemed to surround him as his strong facial features appeared troubled.

Last to board, he stowed his lightly packed bag in a closet and moved towards the front of the plane, settling himself into the tan leather seat—only to actually feel as though the world had placed itself squarely on his usually strong, broad shoulders and he had to close his eyes against the onset of a the headache that felt as though it worked its way from the superior temporal line, right across the frontal eminence— all he knew was that he would have to wait until they were in the air before he could grab an aspirin. It would probably be a severe understatement should anyone say in passing that Gideon had possibly seen the absolute worst that humanity had to offer— and unlike countless others in his position, he was somehow able to uphold his persona of control. Outsiders, in particular seemed to marvel at the fact that if they were too late, it didn't faze him— even if underneath it all, each and every time he took it personally. He also managed the nightmares of the plethora of faces long lost to the hands of another that plagued them as a constant reminder of their failures— only drove him to do his very best in striving to prevent further crimes.

Setting aside the years of study and even more in practical experience under his belt, this particular case left him with more than a sour taste in his mouth— it had actually chilled him far beyond the bone and he felt his whole world crash in around him, which in turn had him questioning why he had been unsuccessful in truly comprehending what the exact driving force was that compelled an individual to commit the horrendous act against others. Acts that that, frightening enough, were not only occurring on a daily basis within society, by at times so close to one's own home it was frightening.

"Because I wanted to." Once more he heard the bone chilling, emotionally void words of a young boy in his mind. A young boy who had murdered a series of classmates as what appeared to be a direct result of his mother's infidelity and the divorce that had followed— he was an innocent child caught in the web of an adult's deception, who could only watch the deconstruction of his family occur right before his eyes. A child, who possibly felt powerless in his role, felt that he had no one to confide in, or had he, that they could not understand the rage that boiled within him. How could a child possibly internalise such extreme emotions? How could a child harbour the amount of anger that Jeffery Charles had? Gideon's eyes remained closed as his thoughts swirled round his mind.

Unable to rest, Reid opened his eyes and caught a quick glance of J.J. gracefully stretched out on the sofa where Elle usually slept— the thought of Elle felt strange and immediately created a sense of emptiness within him. He turned towards Morgan who saw his thin lips moving, but couldn't hear what he said with his iPod on.

"What?" Morgan's tone was hushed as he noticed that Gideon pulled out his cell phone.

"I should have said something to Gideon, or Hotch, or any of you guys. I talked to Elle that night and I knew that she wasn't right, but— I should have told someone." He let his eyes fall to the table as Morgan pulled the earphones from his ears and placed them on the table between them alongside the iPod.

"Reid, listen to me. Do not do that to yourself. You were just trying to help a friend. You hear me? Don't go there kid. Elle made her own choice. This is on her." he picked up his iPod and settled himself back in his seat and watched Reid for a moment, who watched Gideon, who spoke quietly.

"She hasn't admitted anything?" Gideon whispered so that no one over heard and at the same time knowing that if someone had caught bits and pieces, they would know in an instant who he spoke of.

"No." Hotchner replied and Gideon heard something that wasn't quite him in his tone.

"Well, you're doing the right thing." The moment the words lift his lips, he felt that they were wrong, yet at the same time right for the situation.

"Yeah, I know that." There was a slight pause, during which Gideon sensed that it must have been Elle at his door.

"So I'll see you in a few hours."

"Okay." Was Hotchner's reply and with that Gideon pressed the end button on his cell, placed it on the unfolded table in front of him and sighed loudly. Knowing that his mind would not rest and his head had begun to spin in silent protest, the headache gained the upper hand and he finally got up to grab the small bottle of aspirin from his bag and a mug of water, he returned to his seat. After taking a dose, he sunk back in the seat and allowed his chin to rest on his chest in an attempt to forget— if even for a moment, the void that awaited his return.

— Quantico, Virginia —

Once they arrived back at Quantico, Gideon watched as Reid and Morgan walked J.J. to her car talking quietly amongst themselves— J.J. looked back at him and mouthed good night and he waved stiffly in return. He knew that he couldn't go home and with a sigh allowed his feet to guide him, which they did— right to Hotchner's office. The only place where he felt he could find explanation he sought. It was fairly late, close to one-thirty, but there was Hotchner— sitting behind his well organised desk, a thick file lay open across his lap and Gideon soon realised the reason behind his posture. The culprits: The well-kept, soft black leather holster— the gun it sheathed was nestled within, the safety engaged tangled within the loops, the plastic pass card seemed to catch the illumination of the desk lamps soft glow and the leather wallet that kept her badge lay open on top of neat pile— all obviously unmoved, all exactly as she had left them hours earlier. "I couldn't figure out why you never ever smile. Now I think I'm going to actually miss that." Hotchner recalled how her words were filled with such emotion and he found himself wondering if he should have stopped her.

"I'm really going to miss her." he said almost too quietly that Hotchner hardly heard his words.

"Huh?" his head snapped up and his eyebrows furrowed slightly.

"Elle— I'm really going to miss having her around." Gideon repeated softly, Hotchner could hear the way his lips caressed her name, then morph into defeat before he swallowed hard. "There are so many things left unsaid."

"Yeah, I'm going to miss her too." He replied with a knowing look. "Gideon, do you think that it was intentional?"

"I can't answer that question. I do; however, realise that you have your moral code and what occurred doesn't quite fit into that." He stopped himself from continuing the thought. "It just seems strange to me that she quit. That's not our Elle." Hotchner tilted his head in thought then nodded in agreement.

"I think you're probably right. Although when I come to think of it, nothing has been the same since Elle was shot. You know she's right? If I hadn't sent her home, she wouldn't have been alone— she wouldn't have been vulnerable."

"Hotch, I'm the one who had J.J. call the press conference. You can't take all of the responsibility."

"I know, I just hope that she finds whatever it is that she needs."

"She will— even if it isn't with us. Go home and get some rest. I'm sure that Haley is probably beside herself waiting for you. Besides, I know you'll only be a wreck for the weekend." Gideon's smile warmed his face and Hotchner nodded his agreement reluctantly.

"I know you're right. It just won't be the same without her." he let the file land beside the pile and stood. "I'll see you Monday." He added as he grabbed his briefcase and trench coat. Gideon stood where he was for a moment longer and stared at the items on Hotchner's desk, still somewhat shocked. Remembering the empty box, he kept behinds Hotchner's door, he carefully placed Elle's effects within and closed the lid before he placed it on the floor beside the desk.

When he left Hotchner's office he couldn't avoid looking over the lightly lit bull pen and his eyes refused to avoid Elle's now empty desk. It had been cleared of anything that had personalised it and in an odd way, it stuck out for its obvious nakedness amongst the clutter. He let his bag fall to the floor beside his open door and his sigh echoed in his ears as he walked into his office and ran a hand through his neat, closely cropped hair and stopped just short of sitting in the comfortable old and worn leather chair. The envelope that had been artfully placed upon a pile of books stood out with his name written elegantly by her hand. He stared at it— couldn't help the feeling that it was a "Dear John" letter, he raised his eyebrows and picked up the letter opener. Dear Jason. The use of his first name threw him totally off for a moment— she had always referred to him as Gideon, never as Jason. He soon realised that it was not to be read at his desk at work, rather at home and he shoved the pages back into the envelope, folded it in half and placed it into his shirt pocket. Just as quickly, he grabbed his jacket and picked up his overnight bag before literally flying to the elevator.

He sure as hell hadn't slept on the flight from Texas, his over active mind and heavy heart wouldn't allow sleep to win in capturing him within the safety of her web-like embrace and he knew she would not come tonight. The grandfather clock in the study struck three o'clock as he closed and locked the front door behind. To gather his thoughts, he pressed his back against the solid door for a moment, as if seeking support before he shrugged out of his jacket and draped it over the carved banister. He bent to unlace his comfortable running shoes and left them at the foot of the stairs on his way to the kitchen. Not bothering with lights, the rapid flashing of the answering machine's message waiting caught his eye, yet at the same time the soft rustle of the letter tucked within his shirt pocket lured him back to reality. Oh Elle, he thought as he rummaged around for something that would take the edge off, something that would assist in dulling the heavy pain within his chest— alleviate dread's iron grip of his heart. All chemical, he knew all too well and even scolded himself lightly. He found the bottle he had been looking for, grabbed a glass from the cupboard and set them on the kitchen table. Always having the talent to stall, he knew he couldn't ignore it— couldn't ignore the crinkle that reminded him of the reason for racing home.

There will be no more stalling, he sighed as if it would grant him courage as he knew that what the pages contained were the answers he sought. A quick glance at the empty glass he sat himself, rather slouched at the kitchen table. The empty glass pleaded to be filled with the smooth amber liquid from the nearby bottle, but he denied it; instead, placing the envelope on the table and the salutation Dear Jason fluttered in his mind as he stared it down for another moment. He thought once more if there had been an occasion when she had called him by his first name, yet could not think of one. Jason? Why now? He mused as he got out his glasses and perched them in their familiar place on the bridge of his nose— carefully, he slipped the pages out from their sheath and managed to keep himself focused as he unfolded the pages. His nose immediately picked up the faint fragrance of Elle on the pages and he closed his eyes as if bracing himself for what he could only imagine the letter contained.

Dear Jason,

Writing this letter to you is probably one of the most difficult things I have had to do; and I am well aware of the fact that all I commit to these pages ought to be said to you in person. I feel as though I am hiding— using the page as a protective barrier between us. Hiding behind the words left unspoken. After wrestling with the issue and knowing that you deserve to be told in person, I fear that if that were to be the case, I would completely lack the courage to actually voice the things that I have kept hidden from you for so long. It honestly feels incredibly peculiar that while I write this, I actually feel as though I know what you are thinking and despite this fact, I have to tell you something that I know you don't wish to hear. The truth is you need to know this— that my choosing to leave the BAU has everything and nothing to do with you.

When I look back upon our first meeting, I am almost certain that I was a completely different person than I am today. At first, I was unsure how to take you, as you probably know that you are the most difficult person to get an actual read on— which I am sure is the way you like it. I will say this: Your reputation certainly precedes you on each and every level, and you are, quite frankly everything that they say; and in my eyes far more. As sappy as this sounds, and you know how un-sappy I am, I will forever cherish the experience and knowledge that I have earned while under your giving wing. I assure you that I will never take any of it for granted— as I truly believe that in your own way, you have taught me one of the most difficult lessons. That of patience— an obvious character flaw that you were so quick in pointing out. I feel that it is very important to thank you for your patience in teaching me that important lesson; along with the countless others.

A faint chuckle worked its way from deep within his throat as he recalled their first meeting. She hadn't been officially told that she was on the team; it was a quasi-test to see how well she fit into their pre-existing team and the void left behind by their last team mate. Elle had shown that she was as eager to fit in with the team as becoming a member; both he and Hotchner had been confident that she had and would continue to be an asset to the team. She was incredibly dedicated, conscientious, intelligent, and willing. What an absolute fool I am, he though as his own memories of their meeting flooded his mind. He thought about how her energy fuelled him and how despite the fact that they had not worked together prior to the Vogel case, he had felt that he could trust her to have his back. Thank goodness she was also a crack shot— if not, Vogel's shot may have indeed been far more than a mere scratch.

It has been very difficult journey in deciding which path I will choose— I have always felt as though I had been geared towards the BAU. That the team would definitely be where I would be 'home'. However, this mentality in combination with falling as fast and hard in your eyes as I have, creates a bit of a problem. I have been so incredibly driven that I have forgotten something very important, that being how to truly live— I have forgotten what it means to be human, to feel the things that I am supposed to feel— see the world as I once have. Yet I have also lost a major part of myself, which might be a contributing factor; that being passion, which I hope one day to find once more.

I have never been very good at apologising; however, I feel that it is incredibly relevant that you and the team know that what happened with Garner wasn't your fault. At first, I admit that I blamed Hotchner because he sent me home and right into the nightmare that followed. And I blamed you for not being there to protect me. In essence, it is far easier to blame others when something so traumatic happens; and it was incredibly selfish of me to lash out the way I did. It was completely inappropriate and to top it off, I have a sinking feeling that I managed to drag Reid into the tangled web as well. Eventually, the scar will heal completely, maybe in time will fade completely; so too will the emotional wounds that still plague me.

Even though I wasn't aware of it at the time, Hotchner told me that the two of you waited it out while I was in surgery. I have thanked him for that, yet I wanted to thank you for being the first person I saw once I came around. Your warmth made me realise that at the root I've always felt something far deeper for you than mere respect and admiration— that whole experience only confirmed what I had been denying for the past year.

He felt that it was unfair that she had the opportunity to stir something deep within himself that he too had tried to keep at bay. I wish I could tell you the depth of my guilt Elle, he had to stop reading and plucked the glasses from his nose with a heavy, emotion filled sigh, and he rubbed his temples with the rush of more memories. He recalled how he and Hotchner took over a tiny lounge while they waited for her to make it through the surgery; all the while, he worried that she would never forgive him his error. It wasn't hard to want to be there when she woke up. No one should wake up alone— and he recalled how it wasn't just out of guilt. He had selfishly wanted to be the first face she saw. It was odd to him that his heartstrings were so easily pulled and so tightly by her; and yet he had said nothing— he wordlessly took her small, clammy hand in his to offer her comfort.

I know, I know, I shouldn't go here, but I have to. With respect to the whole Lee incident, I cannot regret what happened. I know that you want to know what truly happened on the night in question. Jason, in that moment I admit that I was beside myself with panic. There I was in someone else's home, under the guise that it was mine and all I could see was Garner standing over me with his gun drawn. I wanted, no— I needed to confront Lee. After what had happened I needed to redeem myself in the eyes of the team— to be more specific, I needed to redeem myself in your eyes. All of this is moot now as the events have unfolded as they have and I'm quite literally left with the smoking gun. I didn't kill him out of spite, or just because I could. I am not a cold hearted killer— I only shot out of self defence. He had a gun and in that moment it was him or me, and I chose him. I may not regret that night; however, what I do regret is the fact that I didn't listen to you when you pulled me aside. I knew then as I do now, that you were only being you— which I know is something that I am truly going to miss. I have a confession, besides the fact that I knew you were right, I chose to hurt you. I hurt you the only way I knew how— and that was to push you away. As I look back, I realise that in that short moment, I had done far more damage between us than I ever could in a lifetime, for which I am so very sorry for what I have done and can only hope that you will one day forgive me.

Oh my dear, in that moment; his breath caught in his throat and when he finally allowed it to escape his drying lips and he shook his head in utter defeat and disbelief. Elle, the bureau cleared you of the charges, just as Callahan said they would. I only wish Hotch could have gotten over it. I had always believed you to be innocent; perhaps at the time naively— I still believe that while we do not have the whole story, you would not have just shot a man in cold blood.

In essence, what all of this boils down to is the simple fact that I have disappointed you far more times then I can count. How could I stay on, knowing that every time you looked at me, you saw a cold hearted killer. I am not as strong as you thought me to be— I wish I were; then perhaps I would have the courage to say all of this to you and leaving the BAU with the proper goodbye. Of all apologies written, disappointing you is probably the most difficult. The fact that I lack the courage to see you one last time is an incredibly close second. Please take care of yourself and the team while out there chasing the monsters that prey upon the weakest members of society. Perhaps our paths will cross once more and in your eyes, I will be the woman that you once knew. The woman who, because of you, will push herself to become far more than she is and once was. I also hope that you find the woman who realised it too little too late that her feelings for you run deep.

Yours, Elle

He felt the energy, a surge of regret wash over him and he wished that she was with him so that he might have the chance to share with her the countless things he too had wanted to say but hadn't— always thinking that there was time. Oh Elle, if you only knew— perhaps things might have been different, he thought and allowed the pages to slip from between calloused fingers and thumbs to the table where they landed on the open envelope. As quickly as the emotion had grabbed a strong hold of him, he reached out for the bottle and finally filled the awaiting glass with a splash of the soothing amber liquid before he brought it to his lips. He knew that the relief that it would grant him would only be temporary; however, at that particular moment, he didn't care if it took ten bottles. He leaned his elbows on the pine tabletop, ran his hand over his face inhaling much-needed air and finally took the last drop into his mouth— he let it roll over his tongue and slide down his throat. Drinking usually led to thinking and remembering the good and bad memories wasn't always the best of choices— yet Gideon found himself squarely reconsidering his options. If, after Haley's arrival with the envelope, he hadn't made the rash decision to have J.J. hold that damn press conference. Had he not agreed when Hotchner had sent Elle home— she would have never been vulnerable, she would never have been shot, and he wouldn't be left sitting at his kitchen table reading her letter— he allowed his hand to caress the pages once more and when his eyes rested upon the small blotches on the page made him pause in thought. Tear drops? He thought and held the page up to the light for further inspection. Oh, my sweet Elle, it is I who ought to be sorry, he thought and glanced at his watch. Guilt stricken, he knew that sleep would deny him, yet he had just experienced an incredibly emotional day— he turned his back on the bottle and left the kitchen in the hopes of falling into bed and into an exhausted driven sleep. When and if he awoke, he would rise from the nightmare and things would have returned to the way had been prior to the Garner case.

— Gideon's Office BAU —

It had been nearly six months to the day Gideon had read what even Elle had admitted to as a sad excuse of a farewell letter— and as he sat at his desk mulling over an invitation to speak at a conference, the telephone ringing brought him from deciding whether or not to attend; and if he attended which of his agents would he take to accompany him. He snatched the receiver and brought it to his ear.

"Gideon." He addressed the unknown caller.

"Jason?" it was a familiar voice on the other end and his lips were tickled by a smile. She hadn't called in a long while and he had thought perhaps she had forgotten about him. "You sound rather stressed." He let his pen fall onto the page and sat back in his seat.

"Oh my dear, you have no idea." He chuckled lightly as he removed his glasses and placed them on a low stack of books that sat on his cluttered desk.

"Don't tell me that you haven't been out and about." Her tone was sassy, which peaked his interest.

"I've been busy." He sat back in his seat.

"Busy avoiding the obvious." She teased, "I know you, Jason. It starts with a few rain cheques and ends with you cooping yourself up at home, or isolating yourself at your cabin."

"It would appear that you know me all too well."

"Well this is an invitation that there are absolutely no rain checks for." She paused and received a grunt of protest from him. Ignoring his response she rolled her eyes and thought for a moment. "Well I have a proposal that might just get you out of your rut."

"Oh really?" she could hear his cocked eyebrow in his tone.

"How is your case load?" she ignored his sarcasm.

"I don't wish to jinx anything, but it has been rather light since the incident with Reid." He replied. "I was just filling out the paperwork to speak as a guest lecturer at NYU." His lips kept the grin he wore.

"When is that?"

"Let me see here," she heard him shuffle through papers. "Here it is— it's the week of the nineteenth."

"Well then my proposal won't interfere with your trip."

"I didn't say whether I was going or not."

"True. In any case, you won't have an excuse not to join me for dinner. It's been a while since we've spent time together catching up on things."

"Yes, you're right my dear this slump is rather draining. What exactly did you have in mind?" he waited for her proposal, which would allow him to weigh the pros and cons.

"I know how much you love good food and dancing the night away." He heard the tilt of her head and could envision her raven locks falling over her shoulder.

"Two of my favourites." He replied and their conversation interrupted by the brush of knuckles on his door. He lifted his head in response and Emily stood tall hugging a thick file to her chest. "I have to call you back." He said flatly and quickly cradled the phone. "You appear to be troubled." He beckoned her to step further into his office.

"Gideon, I've been going over the Callahan file." She held out the file and he picked up his glasses, quickly perching the little plastic nosepieces back in their indent on his nose. "There are so many inconsistencies."

"May I ask who asked you to go poking around?" he inquired and didn't mean for his tone to be as harsh as it was, but he had been spending far too much time thinking of Elle and didn't need to be reminded of her downfall.

"I overheard Agent Hotchner speaking to Morgan about Reid and Elle's name came up. I only wanted to help." Her expression actually fell slightly.

"I realise that what Reid has experienced was incredibly traumatic; however, I fail to see the connection."

"That's where you're wrong. As I've dug through supporting evidence, Agent Hotchner's as well as your own assessments and reports, I noticed that the same panel that reviewed Reid's first brush with killing a suspect in self-defence reviewed Elle's file and Reid's most recent situation. In all cases, they determined that actions taken where justifiable and they were both cleared of any charges. Reid is still here and Elle isn't. What happened to her Gideon?"

"Did it not say in her file that she was shot? That she nearly died because of me?"

"You didn't send her home."

"No I did not, but I had J.J. call the press conference. "Emily, why are you pursing this?" he sighed heavily and finished going over the last page of Reid's assessment.

"I'm not pointing fingers, but it's because we failed her."

"We?" he shook his head in protest. "I failed her. The only thing I could do was be there for her when she woke up. Look, Emily you cannot just come in and stick your nose where it doesn't belong. Reid is still here and Elle is not. We have to accept that and by all accounts move forward."

"Perhaps, but you seemed to have resented my joining your team right from the get go."

"I'm not going to have this discussion with you. Do whatever it is that you must, but please leave me out of it."

"I'm only trying to find out why Elle was never scheduled for a console and Reid was. Nor did they follow up without Hotchner pushing them."


"It's been established that Lee had a weapon; it was as much self-defence for Elle as it was for Reid. An internal investigation of Callahan has her being brought up on a plethora of charges. It isn't right that Elle left believing that her team didn't trust or believe her— that she had made the right choice. Granted, she probably shouldn't have confronted Lee in the first place."

"So I was right then?" he whispered under his breath and felt a slight weight lift from his shoulders.

"I'm sorry?"

"I knew that Elle still needed time. I knew that she shouldn't have gone undercover and that when she felt as though she had messed up the initial plan— I knew that she would go and do something so irrational." His head shook as he spoke. She took the file he held out for her and turned to leave. "I didn't have the chance to ask you. How do you compartmentalise so well?"

"It was just something that I had to do. I am the daughter of parents who have worked in the government all of my life. It's all I know." She said and left him to his thoughts. It occurred to him that letting loose might be needed and picked up the telephone— dialling the number from memory.

Always the gentleman, dressed for dinner and dancing, Gideon stood outside her door waiting. He heard the gentle click of her heels on the tiled floor and a click before the door opened. Her face lit up and her smile warm and caring, just as he remembered it.

"You're a bit early, please come in." she opened the door wider and stepped aside; he placed an arm around her slender waist and kissed her cheek softly. "Starting so soon?" she raised an eyebrow and closed the door, locking it quickly. "I have your favourite if you'd like, help yourself. I just need to finish getting ready." She said as she sauntered upstairs, leaving him to wander through the familiar home. Everything was just as he fondly remembered it. He stepped into the living room and out of habit quickly assessed the room. Photographs of them were still on the mantle, the painting he had brought her from a quick trip to DC that he had known was perfect for her hung on the far wall. He sighed and sat himself on the cream leather sofa. Her return was signalled by her clearing her throat as he hadn't heard her heels on the tile floor.

"Are you all right?"

"I'm fine. I brought this for you." He held out the box and she gracefully accepted the gift. Opening the box she literally beamed.

"Oh Jason!" she exclaimed and set the book in the box and placed it aside, standing she wrapped her arms around his neck. "How did you know that I have been searching high and low for a copy?"

"I have my sources." He replied coyly. "Shall we?" he stood and led her towards the door, quickly getting her coat and holding it out for her.

"Thank you." She replied and they made their way out to his black SUV and he drove them to the restaurant.

The host seated them in a soft lit secluded corner where one could sit back and observe the restaurants patrons and the dancers already on the dance floor without being spotted. The dividers had beautiful lattice work and lush greens that climbed towards the high ceiling— some even had colourful flowers in bloom. Gideon perused the menu and decided on his dish— pretending he had not decided, he peered over his menu at his companion. She was radiant by the glow of the lone candle that gently burned to the soft music the live band on the stage played. The soft chords of the piano lured his attention towards the stage and the singer returned from her break, stepped up to the microphone and began to sing; softly at first and her voice melded perfectly with the accompaniment— the perfect marriage of vocal and instrumental.

You must remember this,A kiss is still a kiss,
a sigh is just a sigh.
The fundamental things apply,
As time goes by(1).

"They are very good." He commented quietly.

"I've been coming here with Ted and Deanna off and on for a couple of months now. I made sure that it was the house band tonight." She smiled sweetly and the waiter interrupted their moment. After taking their orders, he dashed to the kitchen.

"How long has this place been open?"

"Oh I would say three or four years at least. Ted and Deanna have been introducing me to new experiences." She looked down for a moment. "Jason, I just wanted to thank you again for the book, it was a lovely gesture." She reached across the table and took his hand in hers. "Just for the record, it's been too long."

"I know. I've been busy with work."

"When are you going to realise that you can't hide behind work forever." She grinned. "So, what is the lecture in New York about?"

"If I'm not mistaken it's a first year psychology lecture. I haven't quite worked out the details."

"Sounds right up your alley." She replied as their food arrived. "Thank you. You know Jason— you really need to loosen up." He smiled at her jest and started to poke at the pasta. The remainder of the meal was just as fun as old times— they were able to catch up on each others lives and even shared a few long running jokes.

The thrill of the thought that you might give me a thought to my plea
Cast a spell over me
Still I say to myself get a hold of yourself
Can't you see that it never can be.

Gideon held out his hand towards her and she accepted his dance invitation. Just as she had hoped— that they would dance the night away, that she would feel his arms wrapped around her once more. More than that, she knew that he needed the comfort that holding someone brought you; it reminded you that you were alive. He took her to the only open place on the floor and slowly as if he were remembering how to dance, he let his body feel the steady pulse of the music and held her hand within his as he wrapped her graceful, slender form with a strong, comforting arm and they began to move to the music.

You go to my head with a smile that makes my temperature rise,
Like a summer with a thousand Julys.
You intoxicate my soul with your eyes,
Though I'm certain that this heart of mine,
Hasn't a ghost of a chance in this crazy romance,
You go to my head(2).

Gently guiding her in a spin, he opened himself to her and wrapped his arms around her small frame, their bodies pressed comfortably together and swayed in union gracefully amongst the sea of dancers. As the end of the song drew near, they heard the quick change in tempo, the sudden surge of rhythm as the horn section opened the number with their quick staccato notes and the singer began to sway her hips in time to the music.

When marimba rhythms start to play
Dance with me, make me sway
Like a lazy ocean hugs the shore
Hold me close, sway me more.

So wrapped up within the happiness and freedom of the moment, Gideon actually allowed himself to live in the moment and tossed his guard aside, he and his companion looked into each others eyes and forgot about the other dancers. They weren't the only ones caught in the act of enjoying themselves. Another couple had joined the sea of dancers and had worked their way around the floor.

Other dancers may be on the floor dear,
But my eyes will see only you
Only you have that magic technique
When we sway I go weak
I can hear the sounds of violins
Long before it begins
Make me thrill as only you know how
Sway me smooth, sway me now(3).

He wasn't sure who backed into whom— all he knew was that he was face to face with Elle. The heat rose to his cheeks as they did in hers.

"My apologies, allow me to buy you a drink." Her partner said quickly. Gideon didn't quite know what to say and the look on his face was priceless— that of someone who had just seen a ghost.

"Jason, are you all right?" he turned towards Doris and nodded. Elle grabbed her companions arm and tried to drag him off the dance floor.

"Excuse me." He whispered in her ear and followed Elle and her companion as they quickly left the floor. "Elle!" he called and managed to catch up. "You quit the BAU, leave me a 'Dear John' letter and what? Never expect to see me again?" he demanded as he felt the heat rise within him— a hint of jealousy perhaps? He was unsure. No sooner had the words left his lips, he regretted coming off as a spoiled young man. Her companion seemed to understand their need to speak and bowed out.

"I'm sorry." Was all she could manage; she could hardly look at him. He reached out and placed a hand softly on her shoulder.

"For what? For everything that you had to go through. For not knowing how truly sorry I am for my part in you nearly dying?"

"You don't understand, leaving was the best thing I could have done. It occurred to be that had it been you, I would have been well beside myself with worry. I would have actually fallen to pieces had anything happened to you. It was easier to leave, far easier for me not to have to think about it. To admit to myself how I felt about you." She turned her face away and quickly brushed the tear from her cheek.

"Elle, you never gave me the chance." He lifted his hand to cup her cheek. Her face was just as he remembered it. Just as he had dreamt so many nights. "I have always trusted and believed in you." He just managed to say before she crashed into him, wrapping her arms around him tightly.

"Thank you." She looked up at him slightly embarrassed by her sudden burst of emotion. "I'm sorry. I'm still getting the hang of feeling." She smiled shyly and he cupped her face once more.

"Is he?"

"An amazing friend who thought to yank me from my rut." She replied and glanced over at his dinner companion.

"Doris is a very old friend." He said and wrapped her within his strong embrace. "She thought that it would do me good to get out. Apparently this restaurant is a very popular place." He didn't want to step back, but he knew that it would be inappropriate to hold her any longer. "I still have your letter."

"You kept it?" he nodded with a smile that lit his face right up. She missed his face, how it could be unreadable one moment and open the next. "Can you ever forgive me?"

"I already have. How could I stay upset with you. I had nearly lost you forever— and I was elated when you pulled through. I was looking forward to working with you once more. Perhaps that's still a possibility."

"Oh Jason, I'm not coming back to the BAU. I've found what makes me happy." She leaned in towards him and gently kissed his cheek. "Perhaps you and I could get together and catch up." She suggested thinking that they just had.

"I would like that." He replied and hugged her gently. "You have my number." She nodded as her friend returned with her coat and held it up for her to slide her arms in. "Good night." He said and her face beamed as he led Doris back to their table.

"Good night." She whispered and allowed her companion to lead her out into the crisp night.

(1) "As Time Goes By" Herman Humpfeld (1931 – Everybody's Welcome)
(2) "You Go To My Head" J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie (1938)
(3) "Sway" Pablo Beltran Ruiz/Norman Gimbel (1954 recorded by Dean Martin)

Author's Note:

This story has a bit of angst, some darkness, and a touch of light— full of would have, should have, could have, but didn't. I will say that it was a bit difficult to write because in doing so, I had to go through accepting the fact that Elle is gone and we're stuck with Emily (I mean no offence to those who like the character, I personally have yet to actually warm up to her). In any case, I apologise for the awful title as I'm really not that 'creative' when it comes to giving a story its title. Regarding spoilers/potential spoilers— I've kept it to referencing The Fisher King (plopping this story approximately four to five months after Aftermath, which would allow for Revelation and plucking a quote from the Boggyman). I hope that you have enjoyed the story and if you have any comments and or suggestions please feel free to leave it in the review section or drop me a PM.