Eighteen

A/N: Part of the Pieces series which is a series of (unconnected) one-shots, written in a self-imposed challenge of chronicling every pairing in the CM universe. This one is set not long after 3x09 – Penelope.

You're lying on her couch. Her head is resting against your chest. She's fallen asleep watching the movie again, and you can't blame her. You've watched this movie eighteen times in the last eleven days. Eleven days is how long it has been since she was shot by Jason Clark Battle. By now, you know every scene, every event that leads up to an increasingly tiresome finish. You persevere though. You're here for her, not for yourself.

You nudge her awake as the credits roll. You know that leaving her asleep on the couch will only aggravate the still healing wound. But you're not going to leave her alone. The wound to her heart is much deeper – it will still be mending long after she's physically fine. But that's okay. That's what you're here for.

'You want dinner?' you ask. You know what the answer will be. Dinner has been the same thing every night for those eleven days. It's as though she is unwilling to take risks, unwilling to try something else, something new. Trying something new is what got her shot in the first place. You suspect that that is part of the reason you've seen the same movie eighteen times. It's still too soon for anything else.

'Yes please.' You get out an onion, some mince. Spaghetti is a relatively simple meal, the kind that won't throw you for a loop, won't deal any surprises. You don't make any changes to the established recipe; she almost freaked out when you added a little bit of oregano last time. You know that the changes have to be made slowly.

She's never had to deal with this type of thing before. She's always been on the other side of the wall; the technical support to your field agent. She is the last person you would have expected to get shot, and you know she isn't trained to deal with it. She's strong, you don't deny that. But she is not as accustomed as you to as the horrors that you see every day. She still feels every blow, mourns every death. You love that about her. At the same time, you know you would have let yourself die a thousand times before seeing her hurt. You would have taken a thousand bullets before seeing that betrayal in her eyes.

She had thought she had found someone special. Someone who could look past the physical imperfections. She's too heartbroken now to believe that anyone ever will. You know that's not true. You know that's not true, because it was never about physical beauty to you – you do find her beautiful, but that's not the point. To you, the most treasured aspect is the beauty of her soul. The way she can still feel each death. The way she can still feel the horror of the things that she sees.

She teases you, flirts with you. This is a friendship that you've come to rely on. It brings you out of the darkness, stops you from ever fully being swallowed by the depravities of your everyday life. You know that without her, your life would be a great deal more depressing.

You thank the God that you've only recently reacquainted yourself with that He chose to let her live. You thank JJ for giving that bastard what was coming to him. You thank the rest of the team for being there in your time of need – in her time of need. But most of all, you thank her, for being there full-stop.

You're going to be there for her. You're going to help bring her through this, bring her to the light on the other side of the tunnel. Even if it means watching that same movie another eighteen times.