Cataracta's Notes: Just a heads-up, this is my first venture into CI fanfiction, though I'm a full-out junkie. So, please forgive any details I mess up or anything like that. This story started going all over the place, but I still like it. Hope you guys do too!
You think it's odd because you've never felt this way before. You've read about it, sure, but what haven't you read about? But no matter how much you've read you know it's not enough, because you're still fumbling your way through the steps and this time it's not pretend.

This time it's not a show for the suspect, this time it's not a clever ploy for a confession, or a piece of information. This time it's real and it's so damn real that you don't know how to deal with it. After all, reality is not your forte. You live in the mind.

Your mind is safer somehow. In your mind, you can create and visualize and theorize and do anything and everything you've ever wanted. In your mind you can see the perp - become the perp - you can understand every factor and every tangent and everything.

But you can't feel in your mind. You can think about feeling, and you can theorize about feeling, and you can dissect and analyze and debate feeling, but you can't actually feel. It's the one thing you're not good at.

Because you grew up so fast you were six foot four before you'd ever entered high school, if not in body then in mind. Because you had an alcoholic bastard for a father and junkie for a brother, and the only other person who should have cared and protected you suddenly needed you to care and protect them, because, really, no one else would.

You never minded, not really. Because you grew up so fast that you were six foot four before you'd ever stopped growing, because your one escape became your mind and you were damn good at hiding there. Because your mind couldn't hurt you (you know that's a lie and it's such a damn big lie that you're wincing even as you're thinking it) and so you were safe there and protected there and happy there.

But you couldn't feel there. Can't feel there now. Your mind is an amazing marvel of human will and intelligence and lots of things, but the one thing it can't do is feel. You hate it sometimes and love it others, and sometimes you just can't find the energy to give a damn either way.

Because you grew up so fast that you were six foot four before you'd ever hit puberty. Because your world was made up of alcoholic fathers and junkie brothers and schizophrenic mothers and it was all too much for a kid to deal with so you decided to stop being a kid and became something else instead.

You were six foot four by the time most kids were just starting to notice the opposite sex, just starting to bumble through that awkward stage known as adolescence. But you've never known that and so you don't care (but that might be because you don't know what you've missed out on) and so you've never really given a whole lot of thought to what you skipped.

But you missed out on a lot, and you're only just now beginning to see that. When most kids were just learning to stutter their names to their first significant others, you were learning how to get inside people's heads to find out what they really wanted to say. When most kids were crying and yelling and laughing with friends and parents and strangers, you were trying to hold a household up all by yourself.

But you were already six foot four and so you could do it.

And the strangest thing is that now you really are six foot four and now you really are an adult, and you're not a kid-son-brother-husband-man trying to hold up a household all by yourself. Now you're something entirely different.

Now you're actually six foot four and the household has fallen down around you and the ashes have long since finished smoldering. Now you're six foot four and your alcoholic father is gone (but when was he every not gone?) and your junkie brother is somewhere (I'll-listen-for-the-splash) and your schizophrenic mother is dead (I'm-sorry-I'm-sorry-I'm-sorry) and you're left standing in the middle of the ruin that was supposed to be a family and you're trying to decide what you should be feeling.

Sadness is expected, but then again you've never done the expected and so that's probably out. Anger could squeeze its way in there somewhere, but your logic would eventually win and you'd realize there was nothing to blame except maybe alcohol or drugs or genes. You're not really sure what you should be feeling and so you're thinking you might settle on feeling nothing.

But then you recognize the petite shadow appearing just to the side of yours, recognize the familiar scent that you've somehow grown used to, and the distinct way that Eames crosses her arms when she wants to do something but isn't quite sure what.

You stand in silence for a few minutes longer, gazing down at a grave and suddenly wondering if the tightening in your chest is feeling. It's something you don't really recognize, which is a good sign towards your theory being true, and it's something that feels foreign and familiar all at the same time.

It's not quite sadness, though you can feel the tinge of that around the edges. It's not quite anger, though you're sure that's lurking somewhere, and it's not quite… anything. But at the same time it just might be everything.

"Aren't you cold?" Eames asks it hesitantly, and you think she probably asks it more to hear some kind of noise than out of any real curiosity.

She's right to ask though, because the wind is freezing and your jacket is light and you've had to be standing out here for at least an hour, though you're not really sure. But you're surprised because suddenly…you're not cold. Because that feeling in your chest that you couldn't quite pin down has suddenly blossomed into something warm and wonderful, and you're somewhat confused because it changed the minute you heard your partner speak.

Glancing to the side, you look at your partner, tilt your head to the left the way you always do and say, "Not anymore." Because you are an expressly honest person (most of the time) and it's nice to not try to hide anymore.

Because your arms are weary from trying to hold up a household all by yourself and your mind is weary from trying to dig too deep and you are weary because you've been trying for so long to hide yourself from the world.

Eames understands this, even with just those two simple words, and so she nods once and jerks her chin towards the waiting SUV, "You up for some coffee?"

And the feeling blossoms in your chest once more and you are suddenly the child you never were, the boy you never had the chance to be, and the man whose entire world has fallen apart around him but who is ready to try again.

So you nod and then, in a move that surprises the child, the boy, the man and your partner, you lean over and kiss her on the cheek. Eames blinks up at you and then smiles and leads the way back to the SUV, and you marvel at the jumble of feelings blooming in your chest and smile too.

The coffee has never tasted better.