Author's Note: First challenge. Yay!
If you are not aware, Kavi and I have set up a TV show episode title challenge. We picked six shows, six episode titles from the shows and we're using them as prompts. That's part of my regular writing process anyway but I'm using this challenge as an opportunity to explore some stuff that I can't do in my regular 'verse. So fair warning, some of this stuff I'll be writing will be darker than my usual. For instance, this one!
The goal, for Kavi and I at least, is to write something for all the prompts. We'll probably be putting new ones up every couple weeks. But please, if you write, or even if you've ever just considered writing, check out the prompts and see if any of them spark an idea. The fun in this is to see the different ideas that people can come up with using the same original episode title.
Prompt Set #1
Title Challenge: I Am Not the Fine Man You Take Me For
Setting – Late Season 2
The Tipping Point
"NO! AARON NO!"
Hotch fired one last time, then he stood motionless as he looked over the room. Then he turned, walked back out to the living room and sat down on the sofa. He placed his gun on the table, looked at it for a moment, and then took his phone out of his pocket. He stared down at the menu . . . looking between the names, trying to decide which one to call.
He picked two . . . it wasn't fair to dump this on either of them alone.
His finger pressed the first button, it rang once . . . and then again . . . before immediately bouncing to voicemail. And now operating solely on autopilot, Hotch simply waited for the beep.
"Something's happened. I need you to meet me in McLean, 137 Glendale Court. No lights."
The words came out in an emotionless monotone. It was something that would have concerned him . . . if he still possessed the capability to care.
Instead he simply hung up, waited a moment and then hit the next name. And even though she answered the phone, he simply repeated the same phrase as before. Then hung up quickly before she could ask any questions.
He wasn't ready for questions.
And now that the task was done . . . people had been called . . . he placed his cell on the table next to his gun. Then folded his hands and leaned forward to place his head between his knees.
And he waited.
Emily pulled up in front of the blue house with the white shutters. Even though there were no lights on inside, she could see Hotch's car in the driveway so she knew it was the right address.
So she jumped out, her gun coming off her hip and up in the air as she ran towards the door. But then her eyes widened slightly as she saw that it was ajar.
So she tucked her body back, and with just the nose of her gun, she nudged the door slightly . . . it swung open with a creak.
"You can put that away."
Startled by Hotch's voice coming out of the darkness, Emily momentarily flinched. But then she took a breath as she stepped over the threshold. Her eyes were bouncing around the shadowy room even as she slipped her pistol back into her holster.
She was still unnerved, but if Hotch said it was safe . . . it was safe. So once her gun was put away, she turned to close the door behind her.
And that's when she noticed the light switch.
She flipped it up, and it immediately illuminated the lamp on the end table. The corners of the room still contained shadows, but Hotch's location was now clear. He was sitting on the couch.
His head was down.
Feeling an impending sense of dread forming in the pit of her stomach, Emily started to walk closer.
"Hotch," she said softly, "what's hap . . ."
And then that thought was lost that as she stopped and stared in horror . . . blood.
She ran the rest of the way and dropped to her knees in front of him. Her hands fell to his thighs, her fingers digging into his flesh.
"Oh my God!" She exclaimed in a near panic as she tentatively reached up to touch his shoulder, "are you all right!"
And that's when Hotch finally lifted his head . . . and what Emily saw made her recoil.
They were dead.
And she as that pit in her stomach began to consumer her, stared into that abyss. It felt like an eternity before her voice finally came back.
"Hotch," her her voice might have returned, but it sounded like sandpaper, "are you hurt?"
And she saw his eyes flick away.
"It's not my blood." He responded softly.
That's when Emily leaned back slightly, her mind racing as her teeth ground together. And then she looked at him . . . really looked at him . . . for the first time.
The blood that she had mistaken for his . . . clearly was not. It was in a splatter pattern. At least three separate sprays covering his clothes and his face.
Now trying to ward off full blown the horror that was rising up her . . . what the hell had happened here(?) . . . Emily swallowed. Hard.
"Whose blood is this?"
Now her voice sounded far away . . . like it was somebody else's.
Hotch's eyes flicked back to hers. And this time when she stared into them, something shifted, and her Hotch . . . the one she knew, the one she would die for . . . he appeared for just a moment.
And then he was gone again.
As the curtain dropped once more, he began to speak. He sounded horrible . . . detached and mechanical. A piece of him was missing.
It was his humanity.
"I needed a pen and uh, I couldn't find one in the drawer so I went over to her purse. And I was digging around inside, and I found a note addressed . . ." he bit his lip, "addressed, to my darling," he paused, "I've never called her darling."
For a moment he was silent, looking at her . . . but not really. Then he swallowed.
"I opened it, I read it, I memorized it. And then I put it back, and I went to work. And tonight I came home to her putting on her lipstick. She said Jack was at her sister's and that she was going to do some errands and dinner was in the oven. Then she kissed me on the cheek and walked out the door."
He stopped again, digging his fingers into his thigh before he cleared his throat.
"And I stared at that closed door for almost a minute before I went over and turned the knob and stepped outside. I could see, she was just turning onto the main thoroughfare. So I got in my car and . . . and . . ."
Once more he stopped, but this time Emily could see . . . he wasn't going to start again.
And that's because as he was talking, she had started to see glimpses of the other Hotch, her Hotch, and by the time he got to the end . . . or as far as he could go . . . her Hotch was back completely.
But . . . her eyes started to burn . . . she wished that he had stayed away.
The tears started to pool in her eyes. She reached over and picked up his bloody hand.
"Hotch," her voice caught as she squeezed his fingers, "what did you do? Please tell me."
His eyes started to water.
"I just . . . I just needed a pen."
"Hotch!" This time her voice cracked through as her nails gouged into his palm. "Tell me! WHAT DID YOU DO!"
Her words ended on a shriek that caused them both to flinch. As her breath started heave, he looked down at her again. But this time . . . rather than the abyss . . . she saw an ocean of torment.
And she knew.
That horror that she'd been pushing away, telling herself that it couldn't be true, she knew then that it was.
And the bottom dropped out of her world.
As Hotch saw the color fade from her face and comprehension fill her eyes, the ocean spilled over. Wrenching sobs began to wrack his body. And even in her horror, even as the tears began to run down her own face, she reached for him.
He fell into her arms.
"I JUST NEEDED A PEN! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD EMILY I JUST NEEDED A PEN!"
A/N 2: So this was inspired by the whole idea of what would have happened if Haley actually had been cheating on Hotch, and Hotch actually DID find out. Obviously this is quite AU, but given his temper, I don't think him snapping and killing them would be out of the realm. I'm planning on posting on another one of these challenges this weekend. And if you're following Girl, I promise, I'll still be posting there too :)
And as to whether Hotch in these circumstances would shoot, or beat them to death, (yeah that's a horrible phrase to write) I went with the gun because it was a delayed reaction killing. He followed her there and he was in a weird dissociative state and that's how he handled it. Badly. I think it works because he's more a of a cold burn than a hot burn. But we can agree to disagree if you don't think it would have gone down like that :)
And we also have a community for this challenge so we can keep all the stories in one place. This is the link for that. Yes, it's a little paltry right now but we're working on it!