Disclaimer: I do not own anything Criminal Minds related. Characters are merely borrowed and will be put back later. ;)

A/N: I am so so so so sorry that this has taken so long. But finally, here is the Epilogue of Suffer and Save. I want to say a big thanks for all the efforts you made to review and to make my days a little bit lighter. Thank you all so much!

Enjoy, it's been a total pleasure, start to finish. :)

Suffer and Save

Epilogue- Hope

"Pandora's curiosity overtook her and she opened the lid of the box, releasing a torrent of pain and destruction upon the world. Death, Hunger and Fear pervaded the Earth.

And yet, at the very bottom of the box, there lay Hope."

Weeks passed. Emily awoke early one morning and wandered to the window, pulling across the curtains ever so slightly to see Dawn stretching across the sky. Glitters of sunlight touched everything and brought them back to life. She watched the world as it woke up, and smiled benignly to herself.

It had been weeks since she had suffered tumultuous nightmares of suffering and fear. Weeks since she had felt so alone in the world. Weeks since she had felt lost. No matter the cliché, the fact remained- he had saved her absolutely.

Even as she watched the brightening sky, she was warmed by the glow of the sunlight as it forced its way, timidly, quietly, but assuredly, across the landscape towards her. She felt calm, and relaxed, and peaceful.

A whispering movement at her shoulder sparked her into motion, and her head turned. He stood behind her, and as soon as she looked at him, his hands reached around her waist and he kissed the side of her face gently. Without a word, they turned to look back into the day.

Work, would come later. The fact was that Emily was no longer doubted by Erin Strauss- and neither were the decisions Hotchner made. They had, for reasons unknowable, somehow earned her trust. Work was back to the way it once had been- calm (to a degree), and likeable. Emily felt, and she knew Aaron did also, that the team was back to being a family. It was as though the split they had endured in the past few months- all of the changes that had been put in front of them- had simply brought them closer.

Emily knew that there was no such thing as a happy ending. There had been times she had wanted to kill him, and she knew that sometimes she got on his nerves just as easily- but they prevailed. Jack was as happy as any little boy could be, and loved Emily because she made Aaron smile. For her part, whenever he was there Emily felt like a kid again. She loved playing with him, making up stories with him, helping him build amazing structures with lego bricks and fight epic battles with his teddy bears. He didn't need to know about the real world. He had asked her once or twice where the marks on her arms had come from, or why she had been in hospital for a time- but she brushed the questions away with jokes and laughter, reassuring him at all times that she was okay. He didn't need to know about the darkness in the light.

Sighing happily, she leaned back against Aaron and felt the warm strength of him pressing against her. She had once thought that she would never, ever get out of the darkness she had felt after her ordeal. There were still days when she felt very lost and very confused and very darkened.

But then there were times like this, when everything faded into the light and she realised that she had so much to be thankful for- and it was on those days that she knew that her job, often a mixture of Suffer and Save- would never be pleasant, and the rewards would never prevent her from crying. Sometimes that was necessary. Sometimes they cried together and clung to each other in the dark, begging for an absolution that would never come.

But as long as she had him, and as long as she was with him, there was Hope.

Daylight swept into the bedroom and cast its fierce glow onto them. Emily closed her eyes and reached, blindly, for the warm kiss that awaited her.

All the darkness. All the pain and dull, threatening malice. All the Suffering. When the Sun pushed though and she felt Aaron's warm body against hers, they all disappeared.

And just like that, there was Hope.