{thirty-four}

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Dylan paused before he knocked on SSA Glenn's door. He didn't have the same sense of trepidation as when he'd been here sixteen months ago. That had been a couple of weeks after the case. He'd fully expected to be demoted or worse, relieved of duty.

And he wouldn't have anything or anyone to blame but himself. Instead, Baines had become his new partner. Even when Dylan had been indifferent to them, both he and Jay had spoken on his behalf.

Dylan wouldn't screw up this time. After being reunited with Alessa, it felt like getting a second chance. And he'd damn sure take it.

"Come on down."

"Morning, sir." Dylan went to the seat Glenn had moved for him.

He wanted to ask more but pulled his suit jacket down before he sat in the chair. Glenn sat down and tapped a pen on the desk.

"Did you know I almost didn't join the FBI?" he asked.

Dylan tried to keep the surprise out of his voice. "You're kidding." SSA Glenn was practically a part of the justice building.

"Had a lowlife cousin who wanted to go out and spend a night robbing people for fun. He knew my plans but rather than support me he wanted to bring me down." The man ran a thick hand through his graying hair.

"What kept you from going?"

He shook his head. "I was in the car when a neighbor said she needed my help with something. There was something in her voice. I had to do it. Her grandson had overdosed, and she didn't have a phone to call an ambulance."

"It's good you were there," Dylan said.

"It's good she was there." He slid a folder across the desk. Dylan looked down at the seal and then up at him. "Go ahead. Open it."

Dylan was sure Glenn could hear how hard his heart hammered.

"This isn't really—?"

"Understandably there was a few months delay since you didn't make the original deadline."

"True." The case had taken more out of him than he thought.

Six months later, he'd done the unthinkable and removed his application, hellbent on leaving the Bureau. That was after going to four states, ultimately finding a missing teen dead, killed by her drug addicted uncle. As much as he wanted justice, there were never any real winners on either side.

Alessa had shown him her list of pros and cons she'd made before deciding to take the job at Quantico. Right at the top, it mentioned giving a voice to those who couldn't speak for themselves anymore.

"My cousin was killed that night. Drunk driver. I would've been too if I'd been with him. I'm here for guys like you. The road might end up being different than you wanted but you still get there."

Dylan opened the folder and looked down at the sheet.

******

The sun shined down on them while birds chirped. She breathed in the smell of freshly cut grass. It always reminded her of Saturday mornings watching her dad in the yard. Alessandra put the white lily in next to her biological mother's cremains. She went and stood next to Alex. Sixteen months had passed since the end of Aaron Hansen's case, and it was now April.

"At least we know why lilies are your favorite." Alex put his arm around her.

"And why your favorite color is red." She leaned on his shoulder.

They walked a few feet to the tombstones until they found Damon Walker.

"It's nice to see that even though life kept them apart, they're still close to each other," Alessandra said.

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