Labyrinth

TV Prompt: Babylon 5 – A Race Through Dark Places

A/N: I checked the Babylon 5 episode in question while writing this, and it's the one where Ivanova and Sheridan take a stand about being charged rent for their extra 7 feet of living quarters. A good episode that showcases a relationship that, in retrospect, could be considered similar to that between Hotch and Prentiss. Plus, it has them sleeping in Sheridan's office. Weird.

A/N 2: I blame sienna27 for this one. I should be doing my assignment, but no, I had to do this instead.

It's dark. That's Emily's first thought. Dark and incredibly smelly. She doesn't even want to think about the number of diseases she's picking up down here, unsanitary as it is. Those are the hazards of the job, though. Sometimes you have to take a bullet. Sometimes you have to brave the sewage pipes in pursuit of an unsub.

She's wearing incredibly expensive boots, which will no doubt be ruined by this latest escapade.

But at least, she isn't alone.

Hotch is right beside her, his own weapon drawn. Their guns gripped tightly, they can't even plug their noses. The putrid smell sends their olfactory senses into overload.

They hear the echoing footsteps of their unsub. They aren't far behind now. Close enough for Hotch to call out:

'It's over, Barnes.'

His reply is to fire two shots in their direction.

On instinct, Hotch tackles Emily to the floor.

'Right into the sewage, Hotch?' Emily asks, slightly irritated. She knows how to dodge a bullet, she doesn't need him pushing her to the ground.

Slightly abashed, Hotch rolls off of her. Now both of them are emitting what is best described as an overabundance of stink. This won't be solved by a trip to the dry cleaners.

Two more shots strike the ground around them. The unsub can't see them in the darkness. Unfortunately, that also means that they can't see the unsub.

'I didn't kill them!' he calls out. 'There's this thing in my brain! It takes over! I can't stop it!'

He fires another shot.

'It's doing this now! I can't stop it! Please, help me.'

His voice echoes in the confined area.

Back-up should be there soon.

They edge a little closer.

He's stopped firing now. They can hear him sniffling softly.

'They really are dead, aren't they?' he whispers.

'Yes, they are,' Emily tells him. There's the slightest amount of sympathy in her voice, as if she's still unsure whether his diatribe about something in his brain was a ploy to distract them. The mind can be a dark, twisted place sometimes. Even they can never really be entirely certain what lurks inside it.

Hotch cuffs him, perhaps with a little more aggressiveness than he had intended.

Suits aren't cheap.

***

The smell seems to permeate in the heat of the sun. Everyone gives the two a wide berth, leaving them to each other's company.

'Do you think he was telling the truth?' Emily asks eventually. 'About the brain thing, I mean.' In the dark it had been difficult to watch body language, facial expressions.

'I don't know,' admits Hotch. 'Mental capacity is a difficult thing to prove sometimes.' And he should know, ex-prosecutor that he is. 'I think we've all got some darkness hidden away. Saving it for the right time.'

Emily nods. There is silence between them for a few seconds, before she brings up something that's been bugging her for the last half hour.

'You owe me a new set of clothes, you realize?'

And in spite of it all, Hotch just grins.