Soldiers of the Light
world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but
because of the people who don't do anything about it."
The Plaza Hotel. Nairobi, Kenya.
"When are you gonna let me back on the inside, boss?"
Emily looked up at her partner in surprise. Mika Kimathi sat across the breakfast table, as calm and unaffected as ever, but his question had betrayed his uncertainty.
"What do you mean?" She asked carefully, setting down her fork.
"There's no way in hell you'd abandon the search for the mole—unless you already knew who it was, and the answer was something you didn't want to face. Or perhaps something you couldn't face, for political reasons." His hands opened in a gesture of askance, "So, why is it so deep that you can't let me in?"
"Mika," she looked down at her coffee, giving a slight shake of her head. Then, she felt a moment of resolve, turning her eyes back to his, "I will tell you everything, soon. But not yet—not until I have all the facts. I need you to trust me, and believe me when I say it is a very sensitive matter and that I have to keep the circle very tight on this one. It's not that I don't find you trustworthy or capable of handling this knowledge—but it's a professional courtesy, and I did give my word, which is all I have in situations like this. I hope you understand."
"So, it's nothing I've done?"
"No. Of course not."
"Good." He gave a curt nod, returning his attention to his breakfast. "But don't think that I'll forget—or that I won't hold you to your promise about telling me everything."
She smiled, grateful and relieved and amused, all at the same time, "I wouldn't expect anything less, Agent Kimathi."
In a remarkable turn of events, David Rossi made no commentary (off-color or otherwise) when Aaron Hotchner appeared in the hotel lobby. Instead, Rossi continued reading the newspaper, only sparing a brief glance to see the way that Emily smiled at Aaron whenever he entered the little in-hotel café for coffee.
Spencer noticed, too, and he immediately went back to Rossi, waiting for some embarrassing quip, and was surprised to be greeted with only silence.
"What?" Rossi noted Reid's stare.
"You expected me to say something."
"I'll have you know, Doctor, I am capable of keeping my mouth shut."
His only reply was an angry-old-man glare.
Rossi went back to his paper. Reid went back to his phone, smiling to himself.
"I haven't forgotten my vow to push you out of the first available airlock, Dr. Reid. Perhaps you shouldn't, either."
"Has anyone ever told you that you have an unhealthy inability to accept defeat?" Spencer's tone was laced with amusement—it wasn't often that he got to wind up David Rossi, and he felt a sadistic sense of glee whenever he did receive such a chance.
Rossi lowered his newspaper with a theatrical air of affronted dignity, "Has anyone ever told you that you have an annoying ability to be a smartass?"
"Many times. The delivery and syntax are always a little different, but the message is pretty much the same."
Now, Rossi laughed, unable to keep up his grumpy façade against Reid's self-effacing humor.
"I suppose this will be our last day here," Hotch announced, taking a seat next to Rossi without preamble. He tentatively sipped his coffee, then grimaced, "I must admit, I certainly won't miss the coffee."
Rossi gave a hum of agreement, quietly casting a glance over Aaron's shoulder to the dark-haired woman seated at the café table (but there are other things you will definitely miss).
Aaron noted his gaze, his eyes flicking to Dave's to quietly say Don't go there.
Rossi merely went back to his newspaper, understanding that parting with Emily was hard enough without being constantly reminded of its impending arrival.
"Do you really think we'll be out of here by tonight?" Spencer asked, taking a moment to glance Emily's way as well.
"Last night, the Canadians were already making travel plans," Hotch admitted. "I'm sure the FBI has been doing the same as well."
Dave nodded in agreement, slipping his phone out of his pocket and glancing at the screen. "Well, as far as anyone else knows, the case has been closed for over twelve hours. No sense in keeping agents here."
"Do you think the rest will be wrapped up by today?" Spencer was curious.
His Italian team member gave a slight shake of his head, "Things like that usually take years to fully unravel. I mean, we still don't know everything that happened between Emily and Doyle, and look how long ago that was."
Spencer Reid hummed in agreement, turning once more to observe Emily. "Hard to imagine it's been that long."
"Time waits for no man," Rossi declared philosophically, putting his phone away.
Hotch was on his feet again, "And certainly not in this case. We're supposed to give our official debriefing in an hour."
"And our unofficial one?" Spencer rose to his feet as well.
"Clyde Easter will decide when that happens," Hotch's tone implied that there was no love lost between them, but he certainly felt bad for the man.
Emily and Mika had finished their breakfast and were heading towards the entrance of the hotel as well.
"Last time we'll be doing this, I suppose," Mika commented with a friendly smile. Emily spared a look for Aaron, and Rossi immediately knew that the angst over their coming separation certainly was a mutual one.
He smiled to himself. One day, they'd thank him for all he'd done.
CID Labs. Nairobi, Kenya.
"You know she's lying to us, don't you?" Jeff Masterson asked quietly, setting another tool into his pelican case. He and Roe only had a few more analytics to run, and they'd begun packing up the things that they didn't need.
"I do," his partner replied, slightly distracted by whatever she was scribbling across a notepad. "But I also know that what she told us is close enough to the actual story to hold a good deal of truth."
Jeff made a noise of agreement.
"Does it bother you?" Rowena persisted.
"No, not really. I just wanted to make sure we were still on the same page, though." He closed the case and set it aside, "Besides, upsetting you would have bothered me much more."
"What?" She turned to him.
He gave a slight shrug, "If I'd said no, you would have had to choose, and you didn't want to—I could see it in your face. So I said yes."
"You shouldn't do that," her voice was grave, quiet. "You shouldn't go against your morals just to keep me happy."
"Morals," he gave a derisive huff. "They've never had my back like you do."
She smiled at this. He had a point.
"So," he turned back to her, a grin dancing at the corner of his mouth. "You gonna get a chance to wish Dr. Arterton a pleasant journey home?"
She burst into laughter, "And why the hell would that be any of your business?"
"He seems like a good guy," Jeff admitted.
"He is." Her soft smile faded when she gave him a reprimanding look, "And what I decide to do with him is none of your concern."
Jeff held his hands up, "I'm just saying, if you need tips for a long distance relationship, I can help—when Lori and I first started dating, she had to move to Arizona for two years to go to school. It wasn't easy, but we made it work."
For the first time, the mention of Masterson's wife didn't cause an ache in Rowena's chest.
"We'll see," she replied diplomatically, trying to hide her sudden beaming smile (because this meant something, something good, something that proved she was healing and moving forward in life).
"What do you think the lie is?" Jeff switched gears easily.
Roe understood that they were back on the subject of Emily Prentiss and the evidence that she'd asked them to conceal. "I don't know. I don't think I want to know."
"Me either, I guess," Jeff took a moment to consider. "I mean, in the end, the bad guy's dead—that's all that really matters, right?"
"I guess," Roe shrugged. With a light sigh, she admitted, "I know I should feel relieved or grateful or something like that…but all I can think is that in the end, someone else will just step up to take his place, and the cycle starts all over again."
"Someone will step up," Jeff agreed quietly. "But it isn't the end. 'Cause we'll come back and we'll learn from the guys who came before him, and we'll learn how to stop him sooner and with less bloodshed. It's why we do what we do, Roe. We can't stop these people from existing, but maybe we can stop them from growing into their full potential."
"It's better than sitting around doing nothing, I suppose," his partner conceded.
"It is." He assured her.
Rowena suddenly remembered Ben's words from the day before, "Anyone can slay a dragon, she told me. But try waking up every morning and loving the world all over again. That's what takes a real hero."
"That's nice," Jeff looked at her. "Where'd ya hear that one?"
She smiled softly, "From a very good man."
Emily Prentiss rapped out an impatient beat with the end of her pen as she waited for Yonah Zamir to return from the restroom (yet again). If she hadn't noticed the physical ailments from the day before, she would have thought that Yonah was feigning illness to buy herself time—but the proof was definitely there, and it wasn't a ruse.
So far, there hadn't been much grand revelation in Yonah's story. She'd admitted to knowing that a Kidon agent was on the ground, but she hadn't said how she knew.
When the Israeli returned, she quietly closed the conference room door again, "Chief Prentiss, I'm not sure how much more I can tell you—"
"Oh, I assure you, there's plenty more for you to explain—"
"No, no—I mean, there are some things…certain aspects I cannot explain. For security reasons."
Emily leaned forward, her brow furrowing in incredulity, "You're seriously gonna play the homeland security card right now? You put this entire task force at risk and compromised our case—you put me directly in the line of fire and risked the lives of everyone else as well."
"And despite all this, may I remind you, Chief Prentiss, that you have no authority," Zamir sat back, crossing her arms over her chest in a defiant gesture. "You cannot bring any kind of action against me, at the risk of making the true story of this case known. And even if you could, your hands would be tied—I've committed no acts of terrorism or crimes against humanity. Interpol doesn't have the power to arrest me, much less charge me with anything."
Emily's lips pressed into a thin, angry line, and Zamir knew she'd made her point.
Yonah Zamir opened her hands in a welcoming gesture, "However, I am still willing to give you as much information as I can."
"As much as you can or as much as you feel like sharing?" Emily asked drolly.
Yonah merely smiled.
Emily sighed, cleared her throat, reset her shoulders. "You knew Ha-Mossad was sending someone—but how?"
"That's not a question I can answer."
"Because you are, in fact, a Mossad agent?"
Yonah didn't reply, but there was a light flicker in her eyes, a moment of surprise in which Emily knew the answer. She continued, "Was Ha-Mossad aware that Mariatu Wasaki was the man behind the Central Shopping Center attack?"
"Mariatu Wasaki has been on Israel's radar for quite some time." Cryptic, yet telling. Yonah was trying to be helpful without betraying state secrets, and Emily could respect that.
"Except the Kidon didn't send Connelly until several days later. Why did it take so long? Were they waiting on confirmation—from you, perhaps?"
Yonah looked away, made another purse of her lips.
"Which goes back to my suspicion that you are, in fact, in direct contact with the Kidon—and thereby some kind of agent for them as well." Emily clasped her hands together. "But I'm not really interested in that. I'm more concerned with how you knew that Constance Connelly was the agent—and when."
Yonah considered the question for a moment, then answered, "The morning before the second raid—the day you were shot. She approached me, gave me Andwele Ade's teeth as a token."
"She knew I had a…personal investment in this case."
Now, for the first time, Yonah Zamir looked truly apprehensive. Her gaze dropped to the table top, "I was a first responder during the bombings in Tel Aviv, five years ago. I was—it turned into a personal quest, you could say, to bring Wasaki to justice."
"And Connelly wanted you to know that justice had been served," Emily surmised.
The other woman's eyes darted back up, "Vengeance. There is a difference."
Emily took a moment to simply study her. "Is that why you brought the Kidon into this in the first place? Because you wanted vengeance?"
Zamir's expression hardened. "One of the bombs went off near a daycare center. Do you know how many children I had to pull out of the rubble—how many little mangled bodies I had to carry back to the ambulances, to parents anxiously waiting behind the police lines? And the ones that were still alive—may the Lord forgive me, but it seemed more merciful to wish them dead than to pray for their survival. If there is a hell, I have walked through it, Chief Prentiss. I have walked through it, and I have seen it every night in my dreams for five long years—and I know the name of the devil who created that hell, and I have given much to see him finally pay for it."
She sat back slightly, throwing her hands up in a gesture of acceptance, "So yes, I wanted vengeance. I wanted his suffering, his crying, his agony, and I wanted to know that in some way, he understood the depth of his own depravity, and felt a measure of it revisited upon himself. And I knew that neither this task force, nor the Kenyan authorities, could lawfully inflict such a punishment upon him—more importantly, I knew they wouldn't. So I made a choice. I chose to let someone else take care of him—in the way he deserved to be taken care of."
Emily shifted in her seat. She couldn't say that she'd never felt Yonah's sentiment, or that she'd never wished for the very same thing for some of the UNSUBs she'd helped capture over the years. And she even understood her frustration at the realization that even if Wasaki were caught, he would not face the true justice that his countless victims deserved.
"You agree with me," Zamir studied her down the length of her aquiline nose. "You don't want to, but you do."
"Agreeing with you feelings and condoning your actions isn't the same thing," Emily pointed out.
"It doesn't really matter now, does it?" Zamir cocked her head to the side. "What's done is done. Wasaki's dead, Constance Connelly is alive, and it seems like you can't charge anyone with anything unless you want to reveal the truth."
"If Connelly breached Interpol security in order to complete her mission, then she will be charged and prosecuted," Emily kept her tone neutral as she began gathering her things.
"But—she didn't. She wouldn't."
"How do you know?" Emily's dark eyes were like lasers, shooting back to Zamir's face.
"Because…because she's one of us," the other woman offered, giving a helpless flop of her hands. "I understand, she was working for one agency while acting as a sleeper for another, but she wasn't a double agent. Yes, her methods were outside the lines, but her morality is unimpeachable, perhaps more so than yours or mine—we do what is proper, she does what is right. And I am sure that if you look into her work for Interpol on this case, you will see that at no point did she hinder the investigation."
"We don't know that for sure—not yet," Emily warned.
"But you know," Zamir insisted. "Think. Analyze behavior—that is what we do, is it not? After all that you know now, do you truly believe that you will find evidence to prove Constance Connelly is a double agent?"
The Interpol Chief was silent. Zamir nodded, rose to her feet, "Is there anything else, Chief Prentiss?"
"Yes." Emily looked at her with open curiosity. "Why did you decide to tell us the truth?"
Zamir took a deep breath, "Because I knew that you were getting close to the truth on your own. When I saw that you had indeed realized it was Connelly, and that you were possibly planning to take her out, I knew I had to intervene."
The other woman gave a slight smile, "Because. As I said before, she's one of us. I couldn't let her take a bullet as a traitor. I'd never forgive myself—the first rule of combat is that you never abandon your own."
"I don't know if this would really be considered a combat situation," Emily remarked quietly, though her tone was reflective, as if she were considering the comparison.
Zamir's smile deepened, becoming something sadder, "This is a war, Chief Prentiss. Every day, it is a struggle—we've won this battle, but that's the funny thing about wars, is it not? They just keep going."
"I suppose so," she conceded gently.
"That's why we need people like you and me," Zamir added. "People who aren't afraid of the battle. People like Agent Connelly."
She moved to the door, turning to offer one last piece of wisdom, "Sometimes it isn't about how you won—sometimes you just have to give thanks that you did, and move on."
Zamir was surprised to see Clyde Easter standing in the hallway, almost as if he was waiting for her—her suspicions were confirmed whenever he motioned for her to follow him. She did, her curiosity definitely piqued but her mind still too cautious to ask questions. Once they were down another more deserted hallway, he pulled out a set of eye teeth from his pocket.
"The lab tested the DNA—there wasn't a match in our system, not that we expected one. Ade was Wasaki's heir apparent, he'd had been just as careful as Wasaki was about keeping himself below the radar."
"So…why are you giving them back to me?" Yonah was still confused.
"Because," Clyde gave a light sigh. "They're still yours. We have no way of confirming that they are Andwele Ade's teeth, seeing as we have no other remains for comparison analysis."
"Agent Connelly wouldn't lie."
"No, she wouldn't," he agreed with a tired air. "But we can't prove it, and there's really no reason to hang onto a random set of teeth, especially when we both know that there's absolutely no hope of ever finding a body—I'm sure Constance made sure there isn't even a body to find."
Zamir made a small noise of agreement, gingerly taking the teeth and slipping them back into her shirt pocket.
"Oh, and this is yours, too," Clyde shuffled around, dug into his other pocket, producing another set of teeth.
"How did you…." Zamir didn't finish her question, because she suddenly understood.
Still, Clyde answered anyways, "She gave them to me, at the hospital. She said they belonged to you—so you could know that the debt was paid, in some small way."
She felt tears prick her eyes as the teeth slipped into the palm of her hand.
"I've got to say, you Jews are a pretty strange lot, with your teeth-swapping and all your talk of vengeance and retribution," Clyde's disdainful grimace was almost humorous. "Makes me cherish the English lack of sentimentality."
She laughed at this, merely shaking her head at his dry quip. These teeth joined the others in her pocket as well.
"What will you do with them?" He asked, morbidly curious.
"Put them on a necklace, perhaps," she shrugged. "Or keep them in a little box where they'll never be seen again—who knows? All I know is that this particular journey is finally over, and I have physical proof. Such a thing is more important than you know."
"I understand," he admitted quietly. "When you live your life in the shadows, as we do, it's hard to remember what really happened and what's just a cover story and which parts can be shared—it's the not sharing that makes it seem unreal, sometimes. Like perhaps it's only a figment of your own imagination, without any witnesses to reassure you that it's not."
"Exactly," her voice was quiet, lined with compassionate empathy. She reached out, gently placing her hand on his shoulder, "But sometimes, it is good—the shadows can be forgotten, if you choose."
"No," he shook his head gravely. "The shadows are the most important part—they're the realest part of lives like ours, and they should never be forgotten."
"Agent Connelly," Zamir began cautiously, hesitantly. "She's one of your shadows—she's been one, before this case."
He looked at her in surprise. She shrugged, "The way you defended her—and the fact that you put Chief Prentiss in charge—it tells me that you have a long history. And if you can't forget this particular part of your mutual shadows, I do hope you will at least find a way to forgive it."
"Forgive it or her?"
Now Zamir gave a knowing smile, "It. I know you've already forgiven her, even if you don't want to admit it."
"And how could you possibly know that?"
She tapped the breast-pocket of her button-down shirt, "You wouldn't have brought me these if you hadn't."
"C'mon, Lion-Heart," George jerked his chin in the direction of the elevators. "I need to grab some coffee."
Ahoo didn't ask why a coffee run required her presence—she just nodded and got up to follow him. It was a dead day anyways, everyone sitting around filling out paperwork as they waited for their turn to give final debriefings with Mika Kimanthi and CID Chief Oduya (Chief Prentiss was also conducting debriefings, but on a much smaller and more clandestine scale).
George waited until they'd exited the building before casually asking, "So, have you decided?"
"Whether or not you're going to turn in your badge when we get back."
She squinted slightly, considering the question for what must have been the hundredth time over the past twelve hours. "I don't know. I mean, part of me wants to run away and never look back, but another part of me realizes that I'll never be able to truly do that, not in the way that I want."
"So I guess that means you're stuck with me."
He grinned at the pronouncement. "Don't worry, kid. Once you learn how to actually follow the rules, you'll be great at this."
"Follow the rules? What happened to your whole go-with-your-gut philosophy?"
"I go with my gut. You go with what I tell you to do."
She chuckled at this, "Ah, I see. The famous hierarchy is in place."
"At least until I can be assured that you won't go guns-blazing into volatile situations." He suddenly stopped, "Was that too soon?"
She offered a smile, "No. I suppose I deserved that, anyways."
He nodded, relieved that his quip hadn't upset her. Then a sly grin slipped across his face, "Speaking of slipping off—I noticed you left the hotel very early this morning."
"Ah. Yes. I, uh, went to see Constance."
"First name basis now, I see."
"Well, I did shoot the woman. I don't know how much more intimate you can get."
"Valid point. So, what did she say?"
"She…she told me not to blame myself. She said I was a true soldier of the light."
"My, my. What a silver-tongued devil."
Ahoo laughed at this, shaking her head. "She was very earnest…although she did—well, she admitted that there was something…"
George looked at her, completely shocked, "She actually made a pass at you—after you shot her?"
Ahoo was laughing even harder now, though she could feel the color rushing to her cheeks, "No, not exactly—she just said that she was attracted, but she wasn't going to try hitting on me."
"I told you."
"Damn fine read of human behavior. You could learn a thing or two from me, Lion-heart."
"First lesson I should probably teach you is how to pick up girls—gunning them down and putting them in critical condition generally isn't the most favorable option."
"George, I don't want to pick up girls—"
"Ok, but don't just shoot them, either—"
"Yes, I know—"
"See, you say that, but look where we are right now—"
"Too far, George. Too far."
"Yeah, I thought it was toeing the line a bit." He gave a slight shrug of regret, reaching to open the coffee shop door. "I'll buy you a cup of coffee to make up for it."
She beamed in response as she slipped into the busy shop.
Yesterday, she'd tried to imagine spending the next twenty years living this life—it had been a bleak imagining, something that filled her with dread and loneliness. Today, she realized that despite the dark moments, there was still so much light left in the world, still waiting to be discovered and enjoyed by her.
Constance was right. She was a soldier of the light. And she'd dedicate her life to chasing it, to protecting it against the looming tide of darkness for all she was worth.
She was a soldier, and she wasn't the only one. Her comrades-in-arms were there, making the burden lighter and the journey more bearable. In that moment, she finally accepted the truth that had lain deep within her for a very long time—she'd found her tribe, and she'd never leave.
martyr would rather suffer death at the hands of an oppressor than renounce his
beliefs. Killing yourself and innocent people to make a point is sick, twisted,
brutal, dumbass murder. Let me leave you with this thought…we don't need
martyrs right now. We need heroes—a hero would die for his country, but he'd
much rather live for it."