Author's note: Another story involving the death of a main character. Hope y'all can handle it ;)
WARNING: I've been done with this story entirely for about three months now, maybe longer. I've been hesitant to post it because of the semi-unrealistic parts of the dream sequences. You can absolutely chalk it up as Hotch's guilty conscience for the dreams, since that's clearly what I'm heading to in the story, but some of you may not approve of the unreality of it. If your not into this type of thing, feel free to skip ahead.
Another thing I feel is important to mention is that I have already finished every chapter of the story. I'm completely done writing it. I'm going to put up chapter after chapter every couple of days or so, just so I don't post it all up at once. I hope you guys end up enjoying it, since it's one of my proudest stories. For those of you who are reading my stories that are currently uncompleted: I want you to know that I am definitely continuing those and I am not putting them on the back-burner for this story, because as I already said, I have already finished writing this one. Here goes!
Of course I remember when it happened. How does anyone forget that? I hate when people asked me that. When they came up to me at the funeral, looking sad, some of them ballsy enough to ask: "Were you there?" and my absolute favorite, "Do you remember it?" What kind of question is that, anyway? If they knew I was there and they knew the story, how could they assume I'd forgotten it?
I remember Morgan coming up to me, eyes wide in horror, when I arrived at the hospital. I was drenched in Emily's blood. I remember continuously feeling Deja Vu, much like the Kate situation. I didn't bother washing my hands, I recall. Morgan shot up from his seat, his eyes bloodshot. I figured he was just horribly concerned. I was too. I thought I heard someone sobbing, but I blocked it out. It was a hospital. Anything could have happened, it didn't mean it was connected with Emily.
Morgan stumbled his way to me, an image I'll also never forget, and I noticed a tear streaming down his cheek. He put his hand on my shoulder, squeezing it. I remember feeling frozen then. Like then, too, I was free from all emotion and any reaction. I couldn't process anything.
Morgan sucked in a breath and let out another wet breath. "Hotch, she -" He can barely speak, his voice is shaking. I wanted to shake him to get him to talk. But I knew what he was going to say. I felt Deja Vu again, right then, I remember. I remember thinking: Everything I did for Kate, I couldn't save her. Now I couldn't have saved Emily, either.
My shoulders fell and I pushed past Morgan, my feet dragging to the chairs in the corner. I saw JJ hugging Garcia. I heard JJ sobbing in Garcia's shoulder. My eyes flickered every time I blinked. I didn't know I was beginning to cry. Morgan just stood away from me, waiting a couple of seconds, before joining me. "Hotch," his voice sounds calmer, but I swore any minute he was about to break down. "They say she -" and he couldn't say it. He wanted to, but he couldn't. I knew what he was going to say. They say she went quickly, with as little pain as possible. But he couldn't. Because that was a lie. I felt a tear stream down my cheek and I remember not being able to face anything. Not JJ crying, or Garcia crying, or Reid and Rossi staring off into oblivion like statues, their eyes dark and lifeless. Or Morgan. The strongest of us all, crying.
I left the hospital. Just like that. And I went driving off into nowhere. For hours. I actually don't remember where I went.
Fast-forward to the funeral. I'm surprised I even made it to the funeral, the way I felt. But I felt obligated to. JJ had asked me twice if I was going; I don't remember ever giving her a straight answer. It was always, "I'll see," or, "Jack might need me." But I knew I had to go. This one thing I couldn't run away from.
The preacher spoke some words from the Bible, and everyone stood tall as JJ and Garcia tried to say a speech about her. JJ broke down sobbing, and Garcia had to have Morgan hold her to get herself together. Reid ate something and then threw up. I don't know if that was relevant to the funeral, but I'm thinking it was. Reid doesn't handle loss very well. But does anyone, really? I couldn't talk. Her mother apparently expected me to, because I was her supervisor, but I couldn't. First off, I didn't prepare a speech, and second, I felt I was in no position to do so. I'd felt completely guilt-ridden and barely came to terms with a missing team member. A missing family member, even. I remember her mother making her way over to me at the funeral, her eyes dark and maybe slightly watery. She looked cold and solemn and angry. Very angry. At me in particular.
She tapped my arm and I turned around. "I'm very sorry for your loss, Ambassador." I didn't know if I should call her that at her daughter's funeral, but I did anyway.
She nodded at me, cold and distant, then stared directly into my eyes. "You didn't speak for her," she raised her eyebrows. "I'm surprised."
I remember feeling heavy. "I'm sorry, I didn't know what to say." I don't know why I was so honest to her. Maybe that sounded rude to her; I wouldn't blame her.
She nodded again. For a reason at that moment I didn't quite get, her nodding felt very condescending. Now I know why. "Look, Hotchner," she said my last name very tight-lipped. It was obvious she felt she owed me zero respect. And at the time, I felt the same. "My daughter is dead. There's no changing that. And of course I'm not saying it's your fault. You didn't shoot her."
I remember feeling relieved, but still uncomfortable.
"But you did, however, spend the last ten minutes of her life alone with her. How were those last ten minutes?"
My throat tightened, and I was so shocked she'd asked me that, I thought I felt very dizzy. I paused and stared at her, very oddly. She read my expression.
"I mean, were they a good ten minutes? What were you doing? Saying your goodbyes prematurely? Obviously you were wasting time, because you had those ten minutes to save her life."
Right then, like a light-bulb flicking on, I understood where she was getting at. The relief I'd felt dripped off of me suddenly and I felt soaked in complete anger and hatred. Not to her, to myself.
"I tried to save her," I almost called her Prentiss, and I choked at the words.
"Look, my daughter greatly respected you. I hope you know that. I just hope you spent those last ten minutes telling her how much you appreciated her." She gave me one last glare and I remember that glare perfectly. It felt like her eyes were meeting my soul. And I remembered I hadn't. The funny thing is, I hadn't remembered those words until it was almost too late in the game. The glare I remembered. But the words, somehow, were forgotten momentarily.