Author's Note: Epilogue B. Yes, I know, FINALLY!
NO HAPPY ENDINGS HERE!
I did tag this as a horror story. And it is. So you're all warned, read this at your own risk. If you'd prefer the ambiguous, decide your own ending of Epilogue A, don't read this one. Because it ends BADLY. So please don't yell at me if you're not happy.
All I can promise is that I did not physically injure any member of the team, or Jack. And I specifically mention Jack just because something I said in here scared the crap out of Imananthropologist when she read the first draft. So, I'm addressing that point for everyone else now before there's any confusion. I'd NEVER hurt my boy! I've given him rubber duckies, Scooby doo slippers, and Mr. Bobo. Fictional or not, I'd never allow anyone to lay on a hand on him. So now that I've addressed that one point, on with the horror show.
The beginning of this is virtually identical to A. The change is at the break.
The team spent another week in New Jersey. The scale of carnage from these two killers was unprecedented. Though they would never be sure of the actual numbers, it was estimated that there were close to 200 victims between both killers.
The BAU was providing assistance from afar for the excavation of the graves down at Watts' location, but mostly their efforts were concentrated at the hospital.
Except for Tuesday, they spent the whole day at Watts' house on Tuesday. That was the 7th, the date etched on Emily's forehead. Hotch banned the entire team from the asylum that day. And that night he, Rossi and Morgan all slept in Emily's room. The other two didn't know that Hotch had actually been sleeping in Emily's room since Sunday, their first night back at the hotel. Not that they were having sex, their relationship hadn't progressed that quickly, he just hadn't let her out of his sight for more than five minutes. And he didn't plan to, not until they were back in Virginia.
Not after what he'd seen in the kill room.
Unlike Watts' trophies, the drivers' licenses with pictures of his victims' faces . . . the clown kept the actual faces. And every face had a first name and a date on the forehead. They were nailed to the walls.
Eighty seven in all, less than half of them were ever positively identified. The dates on the foreheads started two months after the closing of the facility.
Emily had started hyperventilating when she'd seen them and Hotch had rushed her back out into the main tunnel. Her and their four assigned deputies. Hotch didn't allow anyone into the hospital without an assigned partner to stay tied to, and everyone traveled everywhere in six member search teams.
Even with those precautions they still lost two deputies and an ATF agent on Wednesday. They got lost searching and ended up in one of the far tunnels.
An area without electricity.
By the time the echo of their gunfire reached the main tunnel and a SWAT team was sent in looking for them, it was too late.
The remaining three members of the team were found stumbling in the dark, trying to find their way back out. The ATF agent was screaming, covered in blood.
She'd lost her hand and her partner when the axe severed the line between them.
After they got the survivors out SWAT went back in, trying to find the clown and the missing agent and deputies.
An hour after they started looking, SWAT found the bodies of the deputies . . . a few minutes later they found their heads. It looked like they'd been taken out with a single swing of the axe.
Next they found a blood trail that lead to the ATF agent's corpse. A message was written on his torso.
Sorry I missed you Emily . . . Aaron. The three of us will catch up later.
From that point, Rossi and Morgan convinced Hotch and Emily to stay out of the tunnels completely. It was the only part of the hospital that there was just no way to secure. And there was certainly enough to do elsewhere. Victimology was a nightmare. In addition to the concrete evidence of at least 87 dead, they'd found living victims, more mutilated like those in the tunnel. And also some drugged, unconscious, uninjured and blessedly unaware, spread throughout the patient wards.
Most of them had dates on their foreheads for the coming weeks. From what they could gather from the uninjured, the clown's victim pool came from all over. In addition to New Jersey, some of them were from New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Rhode Island. The common story was that their cars had broken down in the middle of the night when they were traveling on the Turnpike or the Garden State Parkway. Many were young people driving to or from school over Spring Break. And because they were in transit, and were spread out geographically from their home states and schools, many of them weren't even officially missing yet.
Those were the new abductees.
But then Hotch had a new theory on victimology and he had Garcia expand her lists to cover any state off the I-95 corridor. She started getting hits almost immediately throughout New England and the Mid Atlantic.
The victims they were able to identify were solely due to Garcia's hard work.
The boy in the clown suit, his name was John Becker. His mother had filed a report on him in Rhode Island three months earlier when he failed to come home for Christmas. He had been a senior at UVA about to graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering.
Now he had an IQ in the low 50s.
The girl in the tunnel, the one with the blue eyes, her name was Tina Mancuso. Her parents had filed a report on her one week earlier in Bucks County Pennsylvania. She'd been due home for her sister's wedding.
The doctors said they might be able to fasten a prosthetic to what was left of her right arm. That was it.
Garcia didn't stop crying once the entire week. All she did was compare the trophies names from both murder scenes with missing persons lists spanning half of the Eastern seaboard.
The scale of the human tragedy was beyond even her coping skills.
When he got home Hotch gave her two weeks off and Dave sent her and Kevin on an all expenses paid trip to Disneyland. When she came home she was better, but she was never quite the same as she was before.
None of them were.
And they never did find the clown. The theory was that he had to have been another patient at one point. But there was nobody in the files, besides Watts, that came close to the level of psychosis they were dealing with.
The trail went cold.
Three days after they got home Hotch and Emily had their dinner. Two weeks later Emily transferred out of the unit, she said she couldn't do it anymore. Hotch understood. He only stayed because that was all he knew now.
The same week she started as an instructor at the academy, Hotch moved into her condo.
Though that was just the official move in date. In actuality they had been almost inseparable since the afternoon at the asylum.
Things were good for awhile, they fell in love. Hotch proposed in late August, and they set a date for late October. They were careful to keep it small, and to keep it out of the paper. Emily was now off the team and Hotch had been keeping a very low profile since New Jersey. Though it wouldn't be hard to figure out where they lived, Hotch still wanted to stay off the radar completely.
Just in case.
To that end, to keeping everyone safe, he even banned JJ from being on camera. And starting with New Jersey, even in the paper she was never identified as anything other than "an FBI Spokesperson."
This UNSUB was nothing like anyone Hotch had ever dealt with before. This one really scared him. Because he'd known that day in the tunnel . . . those threats weren't empty.
And the clown had promised he'd see them again.
So even though it went against social protocol for both of their families, their mothers understood about their concerns and agreed that there would be no announcement about the wedding. And the wedding was a happy day.
Their last one.
Emily's father gave her away, Rossi was best man, JJ was Maid of Honor, and Jack was ring bearer. The guest list was small, just a few members of their immediate families, the team plus one, and Haley and her boyfriend.
Hotch and Haley had agreed that it was important for Jack to not see any animosity between them and their significant others. So starting that summer, they had all made a point of spending time together. At first it was a little strange, but then, it wasn't so bad.
Haley's boyfriend was a good guy, an attorney in the Inspector General's Office and Hotch grew fond of him. And Haley and Emily had been fast friends. They'd bonded that night of the Super Bowl party.
Haley was even in a couple of the wedding pictures with Emily. Out on the lawn . . . in front of the church.
Hotch and Emily had been so careful to keep everything quiet. Not to bring any attention to themselves.
But what they hadn't counted on was the State Department.
An enterprising young press officer had taken note that Ambassador Prentiss was returning from her assignment in the Middle East to attend the wedding of her only daughter.
This press officer followed procedure and released a small blurb in the Washington Post detailing the Ambassador's return and her activities while in Washington.
The name of the church was included.
After the ambassador found out who was responsible she'd had him transferred to Kabul on a five year assignment.
But that was two weeks later. The damage had long since been done.
The first day of his honeymoon Hotch received a panicked phone call from Haley's boyfriend. They'd come home from the wedding and he'd taken Jack for ice cream. When they got back Haley was gone. The door was forced, there was blood and he didn't know what to do. Hotch told him to get the hell out, take Jack to the nearest police station, and stay there. Somebody from his team would meet them shortly.
Hotch and Emily immediately headed home.
Beyond the blood splatter, which was minimal, they didn't find any trace of Haley.
The team unofficially looked for weeks beyond the point that the official investigation went cold.
Hotch was nearly overcome with grief and guilt over Haley's disappearance. And though he had a lot of enemies, he knew who had taken her. And his terror was tenfold that if it was who he feared . . . that not only was Hayley's suffering unimaginable, but that Jack and Emily were next.
So they put Emily's condo on the market and moved into a high security apartment building in the city. Two armed guards in the lobby, three deadbolts on the door, and bullet resistant glass.
Morgan and Rossi took turns following them home, making sure they got into the building okay.
Everyone on the team was given a panic button. And Morgan taught Garcia how to use a gun.
Jack was put into daycare at the Academy, first because it was the safest location Hotch could find for him. But also so that Emily and Hotch could check on him during the day. Jack missed his mother terribly and they had no answers for him. If they knew for sure that she was dead it would be one thing, but she'd just disappeared. And there is no explanation to give a four year old as to why his mommy had gone away.
And every night, wrapped up in Hotch's arms, Emily cried herself to sleep. She knew that Haley had been taken in her place, and she just prayed that he'd killed her quickly.
Seven weeks after Haley's disappearance, one week before Christmas, Hotch got a letter at the office. A single piece of white paper, written in block letters.
Merry Christmas Aaron. Hope the family's well.
Check your trunk.
His heart in his throat Hotch was frantically dialing Emily's cell phone as he ran down to the daycare, taking the steps two at a time, nearly sobbing in relief when Emily finally answered at the same moment he saw Jack playing through the glass window.
He pulled Jack out as he screamed at Emily to get up to the BAU. And then with a terrified Jack in a death grip, he ran back up to the office, meeting Emily in the hallway. He kissed her desperately, hugging Jack between them before he whispered in her ear what had happened.
They kissed Jack, and they told him that they loved him and that they would be right back. And then they left him with Garcia, JJ and Reid in the BAU conference room. They had strict instructions to keep the door locked and not to let anyone in until they returned. And then Emily and Hotch ran downstairs with Morgan and Rossi to join the FBI bomb squad setting up in the parking garage.
Holding Emily's hand tightly, Hotch watched as the dogs sniffed the cars all around the area. They were trained to bark for explosives only and they gave no warning so one of the technicians went over to open his trunk.
As soon as Hotch saw the look of horror on his face . . . he knew what his present was.
Hotch doubled over and threw up on his shoes. Emily was already crying when he turned to her. And though he tried to keep her away, she insisted on going over with him. So they ran over together, clutching hands, already knowing what they would find, but still praying that it wasn't true.
But it was. And they both started sobbing when they looked inside.
The bandages were brown.
Emily's hand quaked as she reached out to touch her face. Hotch picked up the Christmas card sitting on top of what was left of her body. His hand was shaking as he opened it.
If you had stayed out of my life then I would have stayed out of yours.
One down, two to go. I'm looking forward to meeting your boy . . . and I'm saving Emily for last.
You still get to watch that one.
Hotch howled in grief and rage as he ripped the card to shreds.
A horrified Dave and Morgan tore Hotch and Emily away from the trunk so that the paramedics could get in. And as the two of them slumped on the ground, clutching each other, still sobbing, Morgan and Rossi knelt down next to them, rubbing their backs, telling them over and over that maybe it wasn't too late, maybe the doctors could still help her.
But they all knew that was bullshit.
And then the paramedics pulled the tape off of Haley's mouth, and Emily started to moan as the other woman's shrieks echoed over and over in the cavernous parking garage.
"KILL ME! SOMEBODY KILL ME!"
A/N 2: I told you it was bad. But that's just how I saw it ending. I wrote a horrible story and I just thought it would have a horrible ending. And this is what came to me. They don't always get off scot free. Like with Foyette, one of these days they were due to run into the Big Bad. And the Big Bad was going to follow them home. But I knew that THIS wouldn't be palatable to everyone so I cut it at the break and put up the other ending too.
I couldn't hurt anyone on the team like that, even fictionally. They spend too much time in my head. But Haley, though I'm fond of her, is peripheral and I needed SOMEBODY that would be personal for Hotch.
In my mind, after this, Rossi finances Hotch and Emily disappearing with Jack. I thought about adding that tag but I kind of preferred the jarring ending. And imananthropologist said she did too :) Well, once I assured her that Jack is in no danger.
Love it or hate it, that's all folks!