It was a close call, there was no debating that. The end of the barrel was pointed at his face, a bullet was chambered, the safety was off, and the HT was starting to apply pressure to the trigger. It was close, way too damned close.
It wasn't even in the line of duty, Matt had just been monumentally unlucky. Early in the afternoon, he'd pecked his girlfriend on the top of the head, and told her he'd run out and get them lunch. Emily had work to do for her classes, and Matt was going out of his mind staring at the paperwork anyway.
Then a very unhappy young man took the deli hostage.
It only lasted three hours, but Matt was inside and that made it feel like the longest negotiation they'd ever worked. Emily paced for three straight hours, stopping to sit on occasion for a few seconds at a time. Cheryl had seriously contemplated sedating her. Her constant movement had put everyone else on edge, especially Temple and Binder, and Cheryl was afraid she'd hurt herself. And, as luck would have it, Matt was the last hostage.
Then Frank had geared up HRT, and gone to lead them in. Before they got in the door, they heard a shot, then another, then two more quick ones. Emily had very literally stopped breathing, and the only thing that got her lungs pumping again was Frank over the speaker, shouting that the HT was dead, and Matt was okay.
Emily didn't touch him. If she felt his skin under her hands, she'd fall into his arms, and apart in front of everyone. God knows, she wouldn't let go of him either, not without a bodybuilder to pull her off. So, they headed home, and Emily kept her hands to herself the whole drive there.
She nibbled on her lip and stared out the window, unable to look over at him. He was there, he was alive, he was okay, but she couldn't let herself think about it, not yet. When they got home, she would stare at him, touch him, and embrace the idea that he was alive. It was a damn close call, but he was alive. She'd have given her soul to be able to say that.
Matt pulled into the driveway beside his house, and turned the car off, looking toward Emily. She got out without looking at him, and started to walk toward the house. Matt caught up with her, and unlocked the door, allowing Emily to enter first. As soon as she heard the door close, Emily whirled around, and threw herself at him, wrapping her arms around his neck.
Matt was caught off guard, and had to steady himself, and her, or they both would have hit the ground. He was glad to be holding her. When she wouldn't look at him, or say anything, he was afraid she was mad at him or something. He didn't realize until he felt the dampness soak through his shirt, that she was crying.
That more than caught him off guard. Emily didn't cry much, and now she was silently sobbing into his chest. He tightened his arms around her, and eased them over to his couch. He knew why she was crying, but wasn't sure what to do about it. Obviously, the day had been as scary for her as it was for him. She been fine at the scene, so far as he saw, completely composed and calm. Though, Temple had pulled him aside long enough to mention that she'd spent three hours pacing, and looking sick to her stomach.
God knows, if their positions had been switched, Matt would have been just as bad, if not worse. He'd long ago accepted that he couldn't think clearly when she was in danger.
Now, Matt simply pulled the throw from the back of the couch, and threw it over them. If Emily needed to hold on to him and cry, he'd let her do just that. Truth be told, he could still feel a slight tremble in his body. The tremor rumbled, acknowledging that yes, he was alive, but he'd been milliseconds from dead.
He'd never looked that closely at the end of a gun barrel. The 33 automatic had been three inches from his face for a good ten minutes, as the HT contemplated letting him live. Truth be told, he couldn't describe what it looked like now. Black, round, shiny, that's about it, what most modern handguns look like.
He'd never forget the smell though.
Oil. It had been recently cleaned, someone took very good care of the gun.
Burnt gun powder. The HT had fired it twice. Once into a bag of cheetos to make a point to the negotiator, and the second time into the leg of the 19 year-old who sliced the ham, to make a more convincing point.
That he would remember. Just as he'd remember the last image in his mind when the HT began squeezing the trigger.
Saturday morning. Well, late morning. A redhead in his bed, the beige sheets not quite covering her breasts, as she leaned on one arm, and smiled at him. She laughed, and he was almost hypnotized by the sound. That and her dimples.
Matt was struck by two thoughts. He wanted more time with her, a year and a half wasn't nearly enough. No matter when he died, be it tomorrow, or fifty years down the road, he wanted that image in his head.
"Sorry." A soft voice startled him, as Emily finally regained control herself. She picked her head up, and finally looked at him.
"Nothing to apologize for." He kissed her forehead, and pulled her closer.
Emily nuzzled into his neck, her body shuddering against his as her brain accepted that he was out of danger, and in her arms. The pain in her stomach began to ease, the nausea receded, and her pounding pulse quieted. Then, she just felt cold. A chill that has nothing to do with temperature, and everything to do with naked vulnerability.
They had training, they had experience, they had a top rating, and they had guns. Still, none of that gave them an impenetrable shield. They were as human as the hostages, as easily maimed and killed, and under the right circumstances, as easily scared and traumatized.
Unlike the hostages, close calls were something they had to learn to accept, as part of their jobs, and their lives.
At least they knew what was important. They didn't run to their separate apartments to pretend it hadn't affected them. They didn't head for Sloan's, hoping enough alcohol would block out their too vivid imaginations. The negotiators didn't try to find a distraction to help them forget.
They settled on the couch, intertwined together, and focused completely on the one thing that was most important to them. They kissed, and the chill in Emily's body began to weaken. Eyelids began to weaken, breath evened out, and the world fell still around the two sleeping agents.
It was too close today. Way too close. But, one day it would be more than close. It would be the end. When that day came, the survivor would have this, among many memories to stave away the chill.
For now, they would get close. As close as their bodies would physically let them, and relish the feeling of being together.