The Downward Spiral

How nice--to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive.

Kurt Vonnegut

A/N: This story continues directly from the epilogue of AFF2: Sanity Frontier. If you haven't read this, I strongly advise at least reading the epilogue. While it won't give full details, it will help a bit with understanding this one. And while you're at it, read the epilogue of AFF: When the Levee Breaks.


Morgan found himself storming into Hotch's office, a little unsure of what emotions he was supposed to be expressing.

'What the hell's going on, man?' His question was highly unprofessional at best, and insubordination at worst. Still, it was a valid assessment of his confusion.

Hotch looked somewhat exasperated. 'I'll tell you when I figure it out myself.'

Reid followed Morgan into the office, his own appearance the definitive look of bewilderment. 'What just happened?' He had been informed of neither the original torturous experience, nor the subsequent additions to the story. For once, Spencer Reid was entirely out of the loop.

'Get Garcia,' Hotch ordered Morgan. He wanted to sort out this mystery once and for all.

Emily was silent as Hassan told his story. She was in another place, another time, only vaguely listening to his explanation of events.

'Please, no!'

From her inattentive listening, she gathered that he had not died as the bullet struck him, but had been gravely wounded. Faking death, his "corpse" had been thrown out like garbage. Barely alive, he had managed to crawl he was discovered by a group of nomads. They nursed him back to health, but the traumatic events had been repressed by his mind.

It played almost like a bad cover story, the kind you found in soap operas when the character didn't want you to know the truth. Still, the miracle of his survival seemed to overshadow any doubt at his intentions.

While undergoing cognitive therapy for another incident entirely, the repressed memories were dredged up.

'That was three months ago,' Hassan concluded.

'He came to the embassy, looking for me,' Elizabeth butted in. 'Of course, I haven't worked there in twelve years. Luckily, I still have some contacts. They phoned me, and I set about trying to get Hassan back into the country. Of course,' she added with subtle spite, 'If you'd listen to my messages, you would have known this.'

Emily opened her mouth to speak, and then realised that she had nothing to say. What could she say? "Hi, good to see you again, sorry I got you tortured and almost killed"? No, that wouldn't work. Neither would "Honey, we missed our last wedding anniversary by thirteen years. Want to go get pizza?" Instead, she took what was the simplest course of action. She stood up, and walked out of the room.

The ladies' bathroom seemed the obvious place to go in a crisis. She found an empty stall and locked herself in. She closed the lid and sat down, head in her hands. When the knocking and prying voice came half an hour later, it wasn't her mother, as she had expected it to be. It was Hassan.

'I know you're in shock,' he said hesitantly through the wooden door. 'And I don't want to pressure you into anything. I just want to work through this slowly.' He stepped backwards, readying himself to walk away. Before he could, Emily opened the door. They looked into each other's eyes for several seconds before Emily finally spoke.

'This is the ladies' room, Captain Kirk,' she informed him, causing him to break into a wide-toothed grin. This was the Emily Prentiss he had fallen in love with, the bizarre sense of humour, the nerdy nicknames.

This time, when he hugged her, she eagerly reciprocated.

A/N: Never fear, not all is as it seems. M/E is not dead yet. I will try to get as many chapters of this one up before I go away, but I highly doubt it will be finished before then. You'll all just have to wait.