They were both on their feet immediately, Emily quietly calling for back up while Hotch wielded the spare key the concierge had assigned to Smith's protection detail, whoever that may have been. She found herself sliding easily into her role as agent, raising her gun in one hand and preparing to turn the handle with the other. Then, at Hotch's count of three, they were inside the room. Emily's eyes widened in surprise. It wasn't Kevin Stacks standing with his gun held at Smith's temple, but his secretary, Janine.

"Put down your weapons," she ordered. "Or I blow his head off." She laughed a little maniacally. "Well, I'm going to blow his head off anyway, but we're going to play first, aren't we Congressman."

Smith just swallowed. Fear making him shake visibly.

"We can't let you do that, Janine," Emily said calmly.

"Oh yeah? Who says? The FBI?"

It was then Emily was hit with a stroke of genius. "Janine, I say so."

"And what kind of authority do you have, huh? I know you're not the boss of this little duo here."

Emily holstered her gun, hoping to God Hotch could trust that she knew what she was doing. Because he'd written the textbook on hostage negotiation, Hotch most often took the lead in negotiation situations like this one. But she had leverage that he would never have. "Janine, I'm Emily Prentiss. Do you recognize my name?"

Her face fell into genuine sympathy. "I'm so sorry your name had to be dragged into this," she said. "I read the police reports."

Emily didn't really know if the sympathy was from the fact that Janine had passed her name on to the media to publish or because of what had actually happened.

"It's terrible that it was swept under the rug. Elite families think they can do that, you know."

It was a scenario that Emily knew all too well, not only because she'd experienced it, but because it was the norm when she'd been a child.

"I see so much... So many dirty secrets I'm just supposed to turn a blind eye to. People paid off to keep their mouths shut and not allowed the justice they deserve..."

"Killing the congressman won't bring justice to me or the baby he killed," Emily said quietly, emotion loud in her voice. "It won't bring anyone justice."

"It's what he deserves!"

Emily closed her eyes. It had been a long time, if ever, that she had voluntarily dug up the kind of pain that still haunted her after her baby's death. "No, Janine. What he deserves is to know what it's like to feel a baby die inside you. He deserves to know all of the emotional pain that comes on the heels of a miscarriage caused by someone else. There isn't a single physical pain that you could exact on him that could make him feel even a fraction of the pain that I went through when he killed my child."

Janine's eyes had filled with tears as Emily had spoken and Emily didn't dare look at Smith's reaction or chance a glance back at Hotch. Janine's gun had lowered as she'd spoken and Emily chanced a few steps closer, aware Hotch still had his own gun trained on the armed woman.

"Janine, you need to give me the gun," Emily said quietly. "It's not worth the extra blood on your hands. He's not worth the extra blood on your hands."

Emily knew the other woman was about to hand over the gun. She could see it in Janine's eyes, but Smith turned before Jainine was even stretching out her hand, snatching the secretary's wrist that held the gun. Emily stepped back, partially in surprise partially in self-preservation as they struggled over the gun. Then, the unthinkable happened. The gun went off just as Hotch was moving forward. Both Janine and Smith dropped the gun. Smith dropped to the ground. Much to Emily's surprise, Janine's first reaction was complete panic.


Hotch dropped to his knees to determine the severity of the injury at the same time backup came smashing through the door. Chaos reigned for a few moments before it was understood that the situation was under control. Dave radioed for a medic as Derek arrested Janine. Emily knelt beside Hotch, looking to him for the analysis. He brushed her hands away.

"It's just a graze, Emily."


Ten minutes later, Emily was in the parking lot of the hotel where lights flashed everywhere. She'd given her statement and watched Janine get escorted to a police car. She herself sat on the bumper of one of their Bureau-issue SUVs, she looked up at Hotch as he came to a stop in front of her.

"You did well in there," he said sincerely. There was a whole lot he wasn't saying and she was grateful for it. She'd faced her own demons and was still too raw to say more than she had in the hotel room.

His fingers ran along the outside of her thigh in a caress she barely felt. "That dinner?"

Her stomach growled and she felt pink stain her cheeks. "That sounds fantastic."

"Agent Hotchner?" they heard a LEO shout. "Your statement?"

She laughed as he turned to go give his statement. He hadn't taken ten steps when Smith approached. "I owe you an apology," he said, flashing her his politician's grin.

"You don't owe me anything, Smith," Emily replied coldly. "And I'd prefer to keep it that way."

"Em, really," he cajoled.

Emily shook her head, folding her arms over her FBI-issue vest. "I don't want your sympathy, Smith. I want to absorb this and move on. There's nothing we can do about what happened in the past and really, it's you who has to live with what you did."

Max smiled slightly. He forgot how incredible a woman she was. "Go to dinner with me, Emily."

"Can't," she replied with a nonchalant shrug. "I already have plans."

And Max watched her walk away, watcher her link arms with the dark-haired agent he'd been introduced to on the dance floor of the children's benefit two weeks before and could only think about what could have been. He'd lost a dynamic and strong woman, a woman who he had wronged so many years ago and yet, seemed so much more virtuous than he could ever dream to be.

And... we're done! This is the end of the road for all of us here at Dark of My Nightmares and we'd like to thank each and every reviewer for their feedback. Nevertheless, we are going to ask for it one more time while we apologize profusely for the AGES it took to post the previous chapter and for the few members of the board that feel as if the ending was a little abrupt. However, those board members prefer to argue that there was nothing else that could have been doing in dragging this out that hasn't happened in the last two chapters. We're still not sure what to do with them.