Silence in the Tortured Soul
Stumbling out the kitchen door of Aaron Hotchner's one-time happy family home, Emily gasped the crisp cool air of the breezy autumn day. God, she couldn't breathe. She had to get away, escape the confines of a crime scene seared forever into her memory. Casting a look over her shoulder, the two story Cape Cod home mocked her; its every outward appearance deceptively creating the illusion of normalcy. The house was a liar. Hell lurked inside those walls.
Closing her eyes as she bent at the waist, drawing deep breaths in through her nose, Emily heard footsteps behind her. "Emily?" Dave's voice asked hoarsely. "Are you okay?"
Nodding wordlessly, Emily braced her hands against her thighs, trying desperately to gain enough air to speak. Feeling Dave's warm hand wide against her curved spine, Emily closed her eyes again, trying to clear her eyes of the tears threatening to spill. She was a professional, damn it! She had to pull herself together.
Seeing the younger agent's struggle, Dave gently urged, "Breathe in through your nose, Em. Out through your mouth."
Nodding again as Rossi's words penetrated the fog her mind had become, Emily followed his advice. Feeling her lungs expand, pressing tightly against her back, she released the breath, pushing out the air through her burning throat. Slowly, her control returned. Straightening, she lifted trembling hands to her face, shaking her head fruitlessly as she pressed her fingers against her lips. "It's not even the worse crime scene I've ever seen," Emily said weakly, shooting Dave a sidelong glance as she tried to make her eyes focus, the fog hovering ominously at the edge of her vision. "It's not even in the top ten. I don't know why…"
"Yeah, you do," Dave interrupted softly, unwilling to let her lie to either him or herself. He knew from experience that the sooner she started to acknowledge the truth, the sooner she could regain her control. "You knew the victim. And you're in love with her ex-husband. That's bound to fuck with anybody, Em," he said quietly, not bothering to couch his words for her.
She didn't bother to deny his assumption. What would be the point? It was true, and apparently, it was obvious. "Where is Hotch?" she asked hoarsely instead, the words catching against her dry throat.
"Reid and Morgan are with him. They're prepping Haley's body for transport," he told her bluntly, keeping his eyes glued to hers, almost clinical in his appraisal. "JJ sent me out here to check on you while she handles the press."
"He looked so broken," Emily whispered, averting her gaze toward the ground as her mind once again returned back to the exact moment she had entered the home, to the unforgettable moment when she had seen Aaron huddled against his tiny son.
"For the moment," Dave agreed with a nod of his head. "He'll heal," he offered then, firmly, in a tone that defied argument.
Hearing the birds chirping in the apple tree to her right, Emily almost couldn't believe her ears. Such a normal sound…and yet it sounded so alien. Swallowing, she cleared her throat as best as possible. "She didn't fight. There were no signs of defensive wounds on her body. Why didn't she fight?" Emily asked, confused, her voice cracking under the strain of the emotion she was trying to hold in check.
"Maybe she knew it would be a wasted effort. She knew as soon as she realized who Foyet was that it was over. You heard the phone call, too, Emily," he reminded her gently, drawing her attention back to reality. "She knew she was going to die. She tried to make it as easy for Hotch and Jack as possible."
She couldn't accept that. There had to be more, didn't there? "Still…"
"You can't second guess things now. It won't change anything, Em," Rossi counseled, watching as a noise from the house caused the birds to scatter, their black wings batting rapidly against the air currents in the distance.
"I guess you're right," Emily sighed with a shrug of her tight shoulders. "But It just all seems so senseless," she mourned softly, feeling the sudden sunlight breaking through a cloud, shining down against her pale skin.
"I've never been to a crime scene that didn't seem that way, Emily. The day I do, it's time to get out of this business," Dave replied, his voice grave as he watched the coroner's van arrive, the squeak of brakes slamming against the concrete drive. "Are you ready to go back inside?" he asked, his voice kind as he turned his attention back to the brunette.
"Do I have a choice?" Emily asked in a tone tinged with bitterness, her silent voice pleading with God for explanations that would never come. Where was the Almighty, she asked herself harshly as she cast a sour glance to the deceptive skies. Where was the all-knowing keeper of the universe earlier today when evil was roaming free?
"There's always a choice, Emily," Dave answered, turning his dark eyes to her. "You can choose to walk away. I wouldn't blame you. But if you're going, do it now. Because I don't think Hotch will survive losing a woman he loves a second time. And whether you realize it or not, he's falling for you." Looking toward the house, he continued, his voice quiet as a gust of wind washed over them, "This grief will pass, Emily. It's the first wave. It'll ebb in time. He feels like he failed her. And it's going to be a long road for him to forgive himself. But, eventually he will. You have to decide if you want to be the one waiting at the end of his journey. If you don't want to wait, leave now," he advised, his words growing in strength as he measured her response, hoping that he had accurately pegged her, knowing that his friend would need her strength over the coming days.
Swallowing past the lump in her throat, Emily shook her head, drawing on a strength that had been inbred since childhood as she muttered, "I'm too far gone."
"Kinda what I already thought," Dave replied, nodding his understanding as he took a step away from her, turning to face the door that would lead them back into the fray.
"I'm okay now," Emily said, some strength finally returning to her legs as she tentatively stepped forward.
"You're not," Dave said with a shake of his dark head, throwing his words over his shoulder. He added, his hand on the door knob, "But you will be. We all will be."