Emily Prentiss kills her first man two days into 1996.
She is twenty five, on emergency secondment to the CIA, because she speaks fluent Arabic, and has a valid excuse for being in the region, and she kills him because, if she hadn't, he would have killed the woman she'd been sent in to help. Almgren sees him, with just too little time to do anything, but Emily's hand is already on the trigger, and he falls, blood seeping into the sand.
Her pistol has a silencer on, but the shot is still loud in the desert night, and Almgren beckons, hand pale in the moonlight, and Emily runs, to the jeep that is waiting for them, waiting to get them to the nearest airstrip, where they will meet with McAllister, and get out.
The plane is up and cruising before the realization hits her, and when it does, Almgren is next to her, pressing coffee laced with brandy into her hand.
"Good job, kiddo," she says. "If we're ever in the same city, look me up. I'll buy you a drink."
"You'll buy her another drink," McAllister says, from where he's stretched out with his head on a canvas pack. "What do you say, Prentiss? Shall we find a bar in Ankara?"
"I have to meet someone," Emily says, "But afterwards, sure."
"I'll look forward to it," Almgren says, and rubs Emily's hand with her thumb. "Seriously, you did good work. And I don't say that often."
"She never says it to me at all," Sean says, and Almgren prods him with her foot.
"That's because keeping your ego in check is a full time job, and I don't want to give Sofia anything else to deflate."
McAllister makes a face at her, and shuts his eyes.
“You should get some sleep too,” Almgren says, “They’ll be debriefing us for hours, in Ankara, and your countrymen occasionally have difficulties with timezones, so we’ll be up and debriefing in the small hours.”
“Yes,” says Emily, because her instructors were always big on getting a good night’s sleep, and Almgren rubs her hand again. Emily realises, with a little surprise, that she’s shaking.
“Adrenaline,” Almgren says, butting her shoulder companiably against Emily’s, “After my first kill-- yes, I know it’s your first kill, you’re barely six months out of the Academy, and I have no idea why they sent you--”
“I speak fluent Arabic and have family in Ankara,” Emily says, then admits, “And their first three options were unavailable, and I was in Ankara anyway, and--” And it was supposed to be a simple courier mission, in and out, but that was two weeks ago, and nothing is simple anymore. Emily’s killed a man.
Almgren adds a slosh of brandy to the coffee cup, and Emily, reminded, drinks.
“You did a good job,” Almgren repeats. “Despite having fuck-all field experience. Well done. Commendations. Maybe a medal, though medals are generally heavy, and the pins are ruinous to good silk.” She smiles. “Besides. You’re one of ours, now.”
“There’s a secret handshake,” says McAllister, who is apparently only faking being asleep. “And a drinks tally running back to the days when Victoria ruled.”
Almgren’s shoulder is warm, and the brandy is not very good, but the altitude has her light headed anyway, and Emily takes a deep breath, and wraps the man she just killed up in paper, and puts him away, until she’s back in the U.S., and not likely to panic everyone by having a fit of the howling giggles.
“I have a packet of cards,” Almgren says, “Or, the plane does, anyway, and we have four hours at least until we land. Do you play poker?”
“Not very well,” Emily admits, and Almgren nods.
“Well, let’s practice your poker face.”
The plane flies on, through the night, and Emily takes the hand that’s dealt her.