Between Life and Death

I. Emily

You don't even know how this happened. You don't know how he managed to wrestle your weapon away from you, but there he is, revolver pointed straight at your head. You focus your eyes on the barrel.

You can see every single scratch on the dull metal.

You wonder if this is it. If this is where your life ends.

It's a .22 Smith and Wesson. You wonder where you picked that up, why you know that almost trivial fact. You think it's probably from some case. You try and remember the statistics – Reid would know the statistics. Yes, you know that the .22 is one of the less powerful weapons, but you also know that a shot to the head at this range will kill you just as dead as a bigger gun.

It's funny the things you think about, when you think you're going to die. You think about life, you think about death. You think about the things you did, the things you wanted to do. The people you loved, the people you wanted to love.

You hear footsteps. You hear his voice calling your name. You feel yourself being pulled up, an arm across your chest, the revolver pressed hard against your temple.

You wonder if you're going to die right now.

II. Hotch

The first thing you see is her.

The second thing you see is the unsub that's got a gun to her head.

To her credit, she's not moving, not panicking. You admire that about her, that ability to shut herself away when it's needed. Of course, when it's not needed…

'Put the gun down,' you call out. You know the profile is clear – this man won't go down without a fight. But you know that you won't go down without a fight either. You remember the first time she brushed up against you. The smell of her hair, the feel of her skin. You remember the softness of her lips against yours, the absolute serenity you felt in that moment. With her.

You don't want to lose her. You can't lose her.

Because you realize at that moment. You were in love.

III. Emily

You see the look in his eyes. The fear that he can't seem to hide. You remember him telling you, that he couldn't go on seeing you like this. That this kind of fraternization was against Bureau policy.

You wondered then if he was just using policy as an excuse to break it off, but now you know he wasn't. Now you know how he really feels. At that moment before death, you learn everything.

The gun presses harder against your skull, and for a second, you almost think you've heard a click. But you know the truth – you don't hear the shot that kills you. You wonder what you will feel. A microsecond of agonizing pain, followed by an eternity of nothingness? Reid told you once, that in the moments before death, the pineal gland releases a chemical that can cause a variety of sensations.

You wonder if it will last long enough that you'll feel the things he described; serenity, dissolution. He talked about other feelings too; detachment, fear.

You know that you don't need a near-death experience to feel either of those things.

IV. Hotch

You see her shift slightly, but the stoic expression doesn't leave her face.

He's yelling for something – he's yelling for you to put your gun down. You know that's not going to happen. You know it's not going to save her life. If you put the gun down, he'll shoot her, and then he'll shoot you.

You think about the choices you've made. Were they the right ones? You know the answer.

No, you shouldn't have let her go like that. No, you shouldn't have pushed her away. Yes, you should have told her.

Because you know you might never get the chance.

V. Emily

If you knew you'd be dead in ten seconds, would you have changed anything? Yes. You would have told him. You would have told him that you loved him too. He whispers it; you can't hear him, but you know that's what he's saying. You open your mouth, but words don't come out.

You can see the tears falling down his face, as if he knows what's coming next.

'You had your chance, man.' The voice comes from behind you, and you don't sense the foreboding nature of the situation. If you were to be murdered, you would have expected the man who killed you to have a deeper voice. An eviler voice.

'NO!' A second voice cries out. You can feel that trigger tightening. You can feel the tears rolling down your own cheeks, but you have no conscious memory of having started crying.

You feel that one microsecond of pain, and then…

VI. Hotch

You see her body fall, and there's nothing you can do to stop it. The path it takes, the still arc, you know that there is nothing you can do to help her. Nothing you can do to help yourself.

You take him down with two swift shots. You don't even hesitate. It gives you no satisfaction to know that he's dead too. You rush over there, kneel next to her head, next to that spreading pool of blood.

Her eyes are wide open, staring up at you, yet even without having see the events that had taken place, without having seen the tiny bullet-hole, without having seen that blood, you would have known. Those eyes have no life left inside of them. The soul has gone, fled.

You hear footsteps behind you. You hear Morgan swear. You hear at least three separate breakdowns. You don't care; you're too busy having your own.

You said it. You finally said it, and you know she heard you. You know she felt the same way.

But it doesn't seem to matter anymore.

VII. Emily

It's interesting to see your own death played out. That detachment that Reid talked about. You get to see how much they really love you, how much they'll really miss you when you're gone. You see the tears that are freely flowing as he holds you – holds your body. You know that you've missed the chance to make this work.

But you think – in your last fleeting seconds on Earth, albeit on the non-corporeal plane –"could we have made this work?" You see the look in his eyes, the sense of loss that you know he must be feeling. You feel the words of your own heart.

You know; yes, you probably could have made this work.

If only it weren't too late.