Gideon finds Elle in a podunk town in Arizona, playing local PI. He's broken, she's broken, but together they can almost pretend at a whole person. She gets him a gun. It's not his, probably not legal, and it still feels wrong. He's never needed a gun before, why should he need one now?
Elle insists. This is her game, her rules. She is in charge now, so Gideon carries the gun. That doesn't mean he has to use it. Elle mostly takes cases that seem hopeless. That and ones that will make her a quick buck. They're close enough to Mexico to get the cross border bail jumpers.
Gideon is pretty sure Elle has a quick trigger finger when it comes to some of those bail jumpers. Rapists and child murders. He looks the other way. He's changed too.
She owns a little cottage-esque house that looks totally out of place in the dust and adobe of the rest of the neighborhood. Elle lets him make breakfast, something other than the stale cereal she had in the cupboard when he'd appeared, but she draws the line at letting him clean up after her. In practice, this means the kitchen and the few areas of the house he's staked out for himself are meticulously clean, and everywhere else is piled in paper work and the ever present dust.
"There are no rules out here, Gideon. Just your code and your gut. You do what's right, and if you don't, someone hunts you down," Elle says three days into the first case she'd dragged him into. He used to be the hunter. Now, now he feels like he should be the hunted. Still, when they hand the bail jumper over to the cops, Gideon remembers why he went into law enforcement in the first place.
"Yeah," Elle says to him afterwards, "the job doesn't have to be whatever tangled mess you turned it into. Out here it can just be the job."
Gideon knows she's talking more about herself than him, but it's still good advice.
Ex-law enforcement has a lot of cache around these parts. Elle knows the cops, knows the bounty hunters, knows the gangsters and the gun runners. They all know her, too. Well enough that she can wander into The Shack, the most infamous dive bar in town, and not a single soul will touch her.
Sociology isn't Gideon's first discipline, but he's come to be fascinated by this community and Elle's place in it.
He still considers packing up and going back to the BAU the first time he watches her decapitate a snake with a shovel. Really though, she's the only one of his kids who wants anything to do with him. He's abandoned all the rest. Elle, she left first, so Gideon puts up with the snakes and the dust and the curious locals. He owes her, he owes them.
He's never been a big fan of the American southwest, but you have to face your demons or you end up one yourself, so he's here. He still expects to see dead bodies every time the red dust fills his nose. He never asks Elle why she picked this place to put herself back together, and she doesn't talk about it. Talking isn't really high up on either of their list of things to do. Instead, they slowly mold their lives around each other, communicating in groceries bought, remote controls shared, and backs covered.
She's still Elle, still full of as much bravado as bravery, strong and tough and fast off the line. He doesn't profile her, and he doesn't push, and instead they build this careful, fragile thing in the desert.
It's an odd feeling. Like he's starting to come back to earth after being untethered for so long.
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