CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Hotch went on alert immediately knowing that Emily was still asleep. He prayed to God she stayed that way, just for a little bit longer, just until they could get this all ironed out and dealt with. The last thing he needed was for her to throw herself into this mix. The last thing he wanted was for her to feel responsible for anything that was about to happen in this room.

"Henry, you're surrounded by marksmen," Dave began. "Put down the gun."

"I want her," Henry called back, shielding himself from the officers with the one he held hostage. "You give her to me and I'll give him back."

Hotch exchanged a look with Dave and an almost imperceptible shake of the head. Emily was going to stay asleep through all of this. "We can't do that, Henry."

A smirk blossomed over their UNSUB's face. "I wouldn't give up a little piece like that either. Then again, I'm probably too low on the food chain for her to even look at me. Tell me, is Agent Prentiss good in bed?"

"I wouldn't know," Hotch replied. "We're not that close."

"Bullshit!" Henry yelled, pushing the gun further into the young officer's temple. "She's got you in her sights, I saw it."

"What you saw was a friend comforting a friend," Dave tried soothingly. "Agent Prentiss is damned good at what she does. She deserves to be here on merit."

Henry Cademon blinked almost in awe. "She got to you too. Holy shit she got to you too!"

This was not going the way Dave or Hotch would have liked. Hotch had to take a deep breath, remind himself that he had to stay calm. They needed a new angle, a new plan of attack. "So what if she did?"

Cademon blinked. "What?"

"So what if Agent Prentiss found someone she works with?" he asked slowly, lowering his gun. "What does it matter?"

"Because you're not the only one's she's opened her legs to!" Cademon exclaimed. "Whores like her don't stop at one."

"You seem to know a lot about the type of woman Agent Prentiss is," Dave said, catching on to where Hotch was going and lowering his weapon. The other officers followed. "What else? What else do we obviously not know about her?"

Cademon's gun faltered. "They're all the same, whores like her. They use men like tissues, throwing them out when they've done their duty, when the whore has climbed as far as she can and sets her sights on the next superior. Then companies throw out people who work harder, put in more hours."

Hotch knew they were no longer talking about Emily and her perceived relationship with the men she worked with. They were talking about triggers, they were talking about the woman who had changed his entire outlook on females. "That was you, wasn't it? The man that got left behind because a woman had slept around to get ahead."

"I was a better worker. I worked longer hours, got more done."

Cademon was getting more and more agitated. They needed to get the gun out of his hand. He could see Cademon pressing the barrel of the gun further into the head of the officer he held hostage. "And you never got rewarded."

"Exactly!" Cademon's face was turning red with anger. "That bitch got promoted and I got fired."

Hotch nodded slowly. "And the only job you could get was at Carthey's"

"I could see it in the eyes of those whores. I could tell what they were doing, that they were sleeping with the men they were with. They were all too close for it to be anything else. There was nothing else it could be."

Cademon's finger was tightening on the trigger. Hotch could see it happening and he knew that since all of the officers had followed his lead in setting down his weapon, there was no way they were going to be able to stop Cademon from putting a bullet into the Columbus officer's head.

So when the shot rang out, he was surprised. He actually felt the bullet whiz passed him. He saw Henry go down, a bullet in his shoulder and saw the rest of the officers move in while he was still down. Then he was turning to find Emily with her gun still up, finger still on the trigger, a deadly determined look in her eyes. Derek was by her side first, taking the gun from her hand.

"You missed," he teased.

"Nope," she replied and Hotch was surprised at the upbeat tone of her voice. "I'd rather see him fry on the stand than die quickly because of a bullet to the brain."

The fingers of her left hand, the hand away from Derek, were clenched in a fist, knuckles white and Hotch knew that this was far from over.


They were on the plane before he got a chance to talk to her. Each one of them had gone about their jobs, mostly without words and she was packed before he got back to the hotel room. Now, however, she was absently staring out of the window of the plane. He knew she wasn't actually watching the clouds pass. The rest of the team was pretty much asleep, Derek and Reid with headphones in, Dave dozing in a far corner. So he sat down beside her, there to do nothing but remind her that he was around to support her.

"I didn't miss," she said after a few moments of silence.

He wasn't surprised she knew he was there. He also knew that there was no may she had missed. He'd seen her qualification scores. Emily Prentiss didn't miss. "I know."

"I didn't want to. Shoot him, I mean. But I didn't want to... live knowing he was out there or knowing that I could stop him from putting a bullet in an officer's skull."

"Emily," he said, taking her hand. "You don't have to explain yourself to me."

"I have to explain myself to me," she replied, absently, her eyes still fixed out the window.

He took both of her hands, focusing her attention on his instead. "You're not invincible."

She smiled slightly. "I know. Still..."

"Still nothing, Emily. Everyone breaks sometimes."

"And how many of them break in front of their boss?" She sighed. "Thanks, by the way. For being there."

"Of course," he replied. He wanted to tell her that there was nowhere else he'd rather be, but he wondered if it was too early in whatever relationship they were building towards to tell her. That didn't mean he wasn't going to push the envelope just that little bit. "I like being there for you."

Her eyes were more aware than he'd expected when she looked at him. "I'm glad you have been," she said softly. Her hands squeezed his.

He tugged, not surprised when she followed his urging, resting her head on his shoulder. "How are you holding up?"

"I'm okay, Hotch. Really."

Her voice had taken on that lilting quality he now recognized as the one that came out when she was falling asleep. Days trying to lull her back to dreamland had taught him a lot about her. He tried not to chuckle at the whole thing. "The only thing you're doing by saying that, sweetheart, is attempting to convince yourself."

She snuggled closer, one of his hands pulling out of his to fist in his jacket. The other stayed locked in his. "I don't think I'm doing a good job."

Her breathing evened out quickly, so Hotch didn't reply, just watched her sleep. He hated that she was doubting herself, that all of this had made her doubt herself. He wanted to find a way to help her, to make her see that everyone broke down sometime. No one was perfect, no one was stone. He was ready to do everything he could to prove to her that it was okay to lean on someone.

And he wanted to be that someone to lean on.


As this stands, it's done, but I'm tossing around the idea of a sequel that focuses on the building relationship between Em and Hotch. We'll see what happens. I really didn't want to take away from the case nature of this story, but I do want to build this relationship.

Thanks to everyone who has left me a review. It means a lot, as it always does, to know that there are people enjoying reading this probably as much as I enjoy writing it. Thanks guys!