Truly, to tell lies is not honorable;
but when the truth entails tremendous ruin,
To speak dishonorably is pardonable.




He is standing in the office of Erin Strauss, explaining exactly what had happened that night. She listens intently, only speaking once Hotch has finished.

'You didn't think to tell me you were going to use Agent Prentiss to draw out the killer?' she asks him.

He can't recall having explicitly lied to Erin Strauss before. He has withheld information, about Elle, about Reid, but he doesn't know if he's ever actually lied to her. Until now.

'We had reason to believe that the unsub was monitoring FBI communications. We needed to make people believe that Agent Prentiss had gone to the bar of her own accord.'

Strauss eyes him suspiciously, but eventually nods. She is accepting his version of events. For now.


I wake up.

The room is bright, and I wonder why I didn't wake up before. I'm in a hospital bed. It's a nice change from the break room couch. A peripheral IV has been shoved into my wrist. My shoulder feels raw, but the pain isn't that overwhelming. I suspect drugs might have something to do with that.

My wounds weren't particularly life threatening. Yes, I lost a bit of blood, and the bruises will take a while to fade, but there was never a real chance of me not making it through the night. It is because of this, I am surprised to see JJ and Garcia curled up on the two visitors' chairs, staring at the morning sun.

'You guys should go home,' I tell them, and they jump, only just now realizing that I am awake. 'Get a proper night's sleep.'

Garcia rolls her eyes at me. 'As if we're going to leave when you need us.'

'It's not like I'm in a coma,' I reply. I realize that I sounded a little more derisive than I had intended. 'Sorry. It's just…I'm not going to be dying any time soon.'

'We're not talking about physical need, chickadee.' She perches herself on the edge of the bed, careful not to upset the mattress. 'We're talking emotional and psychological too.'

I've been expecting that. I haven't exactly been holding myself together all that well lately. I nod.

'So how're you feeling?' she asks me.

I stare into the distance, thinking. I'm not exactly sure how I'm supposed to answer that question. Yes, it's over, the unsub has been caught, but that doesn't necessitate my immediate recovery.

'I don't know,' is the answer I finally settle on. She puts a hand on my good shoulder.

'That's a good answer,' she tells me. 'Now I have to go get Hotch. He wanted to talk to you once you woke up.' I don't like the sound of that. I don't know how many Bureau rules I broke, how many laws I almost broke.

JJ gives me a smile of encouragement as she exits the room. Somehow, I'm not feeling as optimistic as she is.

'So,' I ask. 'Am I fired?' I don't know if I could handle being fired. It's hard to keep a balance in your personal and professional life when you don't have anything left of either.

'No,' he says finally, and I let out a breath I didn't realize I'd been holding. 'Everybody gets one minor screw-up. Consider this your only warning.' I've often heard people describe Hotch as a hard-ass. Now more than ever, I feel like tracking down those people and telling them how wrong they are.

'Sick leave. Bereavement leave. Therapy sessions. Psych evaluation.' He lists the things I'll need to go through before I can return to work.

'How long?'

'Three months.'

It's not bad, considering. I try not to remember that I'll have to take maternity leave at one point as well. I'll take this one thing at a time.

'We're here for you,' he tells me as he leaves. And this time, I believe it.


I'm sitting in the back row of the church, my arm in a sling. I'm wearing black. Absent-mindedly, I wonder just how many funerals I've been to. It's into double figures at the very least. Lee's brother Travis is giving the eulogy. I was almost going to do it, but I know I would have broken down half way through.

Instead, I've got a poem. It isn't a relatively long poem; it might take a minute or so to recite, but still, I doubt my capacity to make it through even a minute. A hand grasps mine. Morgan's. He's sitting to my left, Reid to my right. The BAU fills the back row.

This is all I am. This is all I will ever be. Kept in balance by the two facets of my existence. I stand up. Make my way towards the altar.

I stare down at the poem. It's as though I can't even comprehend the words. I see them, but it is as if they're not there. I open my mouth, try to read them, but I can no longer speak.

I look out into the sea of darkness. Tears mirror mine. I catch the glance of my friends, my family, my colleagues. All the same.

I stare down at the poem. I scrunch it up and throw it sideways.

I look out into the sea of darkness. I say three words.

'So it goes.'

Because I can cry all I want, but that doesn't change what happened. I can wish death upon my enemies, but that will not wipe their slate clean.

A few people – Morgan included – nod in appreciation of the words. The rest, though they don't recognize the reference, attempt to give a polite reaction anyway.

They don't understand.

And it's okay.

Because neither do I.


A/N: Well, I was going to do an epilogue, but I think that this scene wraps it up better. Here's some answers to the questions some of you were wanting.

The engraving on the lighter. This is a reference to a '90s comic book series known as Preacher. The main character inherited a lighter from his father with the words "FUCK COMMUNISM" engraved on it, hence the reference to Emily almost being beaten to death in Ukraine for possessing it. Some might also recognize the lighter from Y: The Last Man, where Yorrick is also nerdy enough to get the same engraving.

The DVDs. Yes, as someone did pick up on, the DVDs that they watched a lot were the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica DVDs.

Tears in the Rain. The second chapter title is a reference to the film Blade Runner, and Roy Batty's famous speech.

Intersections in Real Time. The name of a Babylon 5 episode.

The Spanish Inquisition. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Yellow crayon. Emily's words "don't try that yellow crayon bullshit on me," refers to the season six finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where Xander (Kevin Lynch :D) tries to talk Willow out of destroying the world by reminding her of her innocence.

So it goes. Anyone who has read Slaughterhouse-Five will know this one. It's a phrase used to emphasize "fatalism, stoicism and the acceptance that no use will come of shrinking away when the worst has happened."

I hope this list helps anyone who was wondering. If there are any I missed out, someone please remind me.