Human

A/N: for the TV Prompt, Scrubs: My Best Friend's Mistake. Morgan/Prentiss friendship fic, because when it comes down to it, they're my favourite pairing, but the rules say HP only, so it's friendship.

It had been one simple mistake.

But of course, when it came down to it, a mistake in the field was always catastrophic. Even the tiniest thing could be fatal.

He had cleared the room. A quick glance that took less than two seconds, and he had declared the room as suspect free.

In retrospect, he thinks that he probably should have taken a couple more.

***

Emily is on her knees, blood dripping from her nose, and from the back of her head. Morgan's barely three feet from her, in almost the same position, only it's his lip that's bleeding profusely.

She'd holstered her weapon, following him into the seemingly empty room, only to get pistol-whipped by the unsub that was standing behind the door. Too late, Morgan had turned, finding himself on the receiving end of a right hook..

The punch dazed him enough that he couldn't even resist when he felt the unsub tie his hands roughly behind his back.

'Try to fight back,' the unsub had said, 'and I'll kill her.' She had been unresponsive when he tied her wrists, regaining consciousness only as he pulled her off the ground.

And that's where they are now.

'Who knows you're here?' he asks quietly. It's the second time he's asked. The first time, neither of them answered; Emily was still assessing the situation, while Morgan adamantly refused to bend to this psychopath's will. And that's how Emily got the bloody nose.

'Local P.D,' Emily answers scathingly. 'BAU, people at Quantico. The Spanish fucking Armada.'

She's antagonizing him on purpose, Morgan knows. Faking overconfidence that might scare him into confessing. It doesn't work, and Emily's head jerks backwards as his fist strikes her again.

She'll have a black eye within a few hours.

In reality, it's far from the truth. They had come straight to this place, upon receiving the address of a possible witness. They had had no reason to believe that this was the house of their unsub, until they had seen the dark blue sedan out the front.

And then, they'd heard the scream.

They rushed in. Morgan cleared the living room.

And then everything went haywire.

***

He holds the gun on Morgan, tells him to tie Emily's ankles together. Then, he does the same to Emily. He leaves the room, evidently needing to think about what to do with his FBI captives.

'I'm sorry,' Morgan whispers as soon as he is gone. 'Oh, God, I'm so sorry.'

They're both bleeding pretty heavily now, a side effect of their unsub's sadistic tendencies. But Morgan knows that they wouldn't even be in the situation if it weren't for his own stupidity.

Emily shakes her head at him, and it hurts like hell. They'll never get out alive if all he's going to do is keep apologizing.

They've got no weapons, no phones. He's taken their Kevlar, taken anything else that might be of even the smallest use to them.

Morgan swears under his breath. How did he screw things up so badly?

'You made a mistake,' Emily tells him, indifferently. 'It happens.'

Yeah, he thinks. But this mistake could end up costing lives.

The unsub returns, and there's a twinkle in his eye that Morgan doesn't like in the least. The guy's a sexual sadist. Torturing, raping and murdering nine women in and around the area. The BAU agents both know that the beatings were just preliminaries. That he's got much more painful things planned.

He pulls Emily to her feet; she's off balance, and the bound ankles don't really help. When she purposefully trips into the unsub, knocking the gun to the floor, Morgan knows his got his opportunity.

In one miraculous feat, he propels himself from his position on the floor, into a diving tackle. It would have been easier, he thinks, if he had his hands free, but as it is, he manages to knock both Emily and the unsub to the ground.

Then, with no other weapon at his disposal, he thrusts his own head into that of the unsub. People are always telling him that he's got a hard head, but he's never put it to this use before. Usually he prefers the tackling approach.

That's not to say it doesn't hurt, though. He's got a ringing in his ears as he tries to extricate himself from the tangle of bodies.

With her bound hands, Emily's trying to search through the unconscious unsub's pockets. She doesn't know what they would have done if their hastily improvised plan had failed. There's a knife in his left pocket, and after almost ten minutes of rubbing it against the rope, she's cut herself free. The blood on her wrists lets her know that she probably cut herself more often than she actually cut the rope.

Another five minutes, and they're cuffing the unsub, not caring that the metal is cutting off his circulation.

Gyrating his wrists, trying to get the blood flowing again, Morgan retrieves his cell from the next room. He's almost dreading having to explain this one to Hotch.

Less than a minute later, he hangs up his phone, clipping it back onto his belt. To the Unit Chief's credit, he didn't make any reprimanding comments. He simply asked if they were okay, and said that the rest of the team would be there soon.

Emily's upstairs, checking on the victim. He doesn't want to leave the unsub alone, but nor does he want to let Emily walk around with her wounds unchecked. If the pistol-whipping had been anything to go by, then at the very least, she would have a minor concussion.

They were too late, it seems. The victim whose screams they heard is laying dead, vacant eyes boring into Morgan's. It's disconcerting.

'I'm not the one you should be apologizing to,' she says brusquely, the moment he tries to bring it up again. She's staring pointedly at the woman's body, and Morgan realizes what Emily's saying.

This woman would be alive if he hadn't fucked up. He gathers he reacts rather badly to that, because a moment later, Emily's the one apologizing.

'I didn't mean to sound so...mean,' she says. 'It's just...I'm alive. I go through this stuff every day. I've accepted the possibility that one day, I just might not make it home. This woman...she never made that choice. I'm going to come right out and say it – we all make mistakes. Sometimes we catch a lucky break. Sometimes nothing happens. But sometimes it does, and those are the moments we have to live with.'

'Morgan? Prentiss?' They hear Hotch's voice calling their names.

'Upstairs,' Morgan calls back. He has a slight lisp, from the fist striking his face. He thinks he'll always remember that moment.

'Just remember,' says Emily softly, and it's almost as though she's speaking to herself as well as Morgan. 'You're only human.'