Author's note: I needed to reach the dark places in my own head today, so I wrote this. I hope it's not too dark. If you guys really like it, and I receive some good feedback, I'll write another chapter. Hope it's alright. Thank you for any attention I receive regarding this story! Hell, thank you for any attention I receive regarding ANY of my stories! You don't know how much my writing and YOUR appreciation for it means to me. Cannot say it enough. XOXO.

Tick, tick, tick, tick. That's the sound of the noise in her head, ticking away, time-consuming, just wasting away. The noise gets so loud sometimes it's impossible to drown out. Tick, tick, tick. Just like the steady rhythm of the clock on the wall, perpetually telling her the time, like it matters any. What's the difference between six o'clock in the afternoon or six o'clock in the morning? She's awake at both hours. The difference is, I guess, that in the afternoon she's probably working on a case, where in the morning there's a greater chance of her being at home, refilling her coffee cup, thinking too much. The sound of trees whooshing outside sounds like waves crashing in her apartment, and the sound of water dripping from the faucet that occurs every five seconds in intervals sings along to the trees rhythmically. Elbows to knees, sitting on the couch; she's thinking again. Tick, tick, tick.

Her thoughts scare her. She doesn't want to necessarily be thinking them, but how do you stop? Realistically, there isn't a button to press in your brain that transforms your scary thoughts into bright, cheerful ones; or is there? Meeting the light-switch in the end of the room from the corner of her eye, she imagines being able to simply flick a switch and stop thinking. Well, wouldn't that be nice? Then she won't have to be afraid of anything. She could stop living in her head, since there'd be nothing to visit. It'd be an empty space with cobwebs hanging from wall to wall, untouched and innocent. The ghosts that once lived there would be gone; vanished along with the stream of thoughts.

If you were to ask her, well, she wouldn't know what to say. Why does she get these thoughts? Why does she imagine dying from time to time? She'd be speechless. Her mouth would fall open, her cheeks would flush pink and her eyes were glisten like she's starry-eyed; rather, she's petrified. See, now that you've asked, you've opened a cabinet where the ghosts hide out. Now you know. What are you going to say?

The darkness outside doesn't frighten her. The moonlight and the stars actually looks pretty beautiful tonight. The streetlights aligned perfectly on the sidewalks add a nice glory touch. The wind that rushes by like an angry tornado doesn't make her tremble. It's this. Her sitting alone, by herself; and she's afraid. Because there's no distractions. And her head isn't empty at all; matter of fact, tonight particularly, it's filled. To the brim; to the point it might overfill; to the point it might implode itself, or cave in altogether. What would she do then? Would the thoughts strip her from her mental state? Will she just go crazy? Has she already gone crazy? Do crazy people acknowledge their crazy at all? What is crazy?

She doesn't want to think it. Don't think it. She can't help it. Once she sees it, the image appears, and not long after, the thought comes into focus. If I wanted to, I could use that... she thinks. Not that I'm going to, but if I wanted to, well, I could. She rationalizes it by thinking that she's seen so much death, so consistently that no wonder it's a common occurence in her brain. And to rationalize it even better, she often thinks: If I wanted to die, I wouldn't be afraid I'll cause it.

In some ways, isn't that true? Those who want to die, do not fear death, right? But considering her career path, she shouldn't fear death. She sees it every single day, reminding her time and time again the many ways your life can end; most ending brutally and viciously. Lives piling up one after another, their breath ripped from them all too soon, neither one wanting to die. And neither does she, she doesn't think. But why does she think this way? Once self-analyzing takes too much of a toll, she stands up and grabs the knives on the counter. She hides them. The sharp blade is making her stomach churn; she doesn't want to think about anything that resembles a weapon. The look of them makes her feel sick. She spots the can-opener, with it's threatening blade. What a small convenient tool, that can cause so much harm. Holding the can-opener, the blade stares at her, almost tauntingly. She envisions the blade slicing through her pale skin; the pain buckling her knees. She can see herself blinking away her life, grasping for nothing but the air, like she's going to pull the sky down with her. She could see the blood leaving trails in circles around the kitchen, until eventually it forms a decent sized amount around her. She could see them finding her. But everything turns foggy when she tries to imagine them expressing some kind of a reaction, and she realizes thr fogginess is tears just building up in her eyes. She drops the can-opener in the sink, hands trembling. It makes a dissatisfying clinking sound that is cringe-worthy, and it settles there near the garbage disposal.

Garbage disposals. Like humans. They're just garbage, right? The cases she takes tells her so. Her stomach churns again wickedly, making sharp twists and turns like a knife gutting at the pit of her stomach. Flashes of dead victims laying lifeless in a heap of leaves and trash fills her mind, and the feeling of too much thinking overwhelming her really occurs, and she does reach the brim. She overfills. Cupping her mouth, she makes a quick escape to the bathroom and heaves up the food she overstuffed herself with over lunch two hours ago. The toilet bowel turns an assortment of colors, and it swooshes down the hole at the request of the handle. This job is taking too much of a toll. The sight of the all of the dead people she's had to see. She dreams of them, she breathes them; how can she ever look at a thing as simple as a can-opener and not immediately think death? Life is ugly to her now. It's not worth facing. She doesn't owe it that. It's disgusting and cruel.

The wind makes a louder rustling noise outside, but eventually it's tainted by the sound of hard knuckles banging on her door. Her legs, shaky from throwing up, make their way to the front door, and her body finds the strength to somehow open it. Hotch, standing there, looking about as lonesome as a guy drowning his sorrows at the bar, lifts his hand weakly and forces a quick wave.

"Can I come in?" he asks, once she's spent too much time just staring.

"Yeah, yeah, sure," she nods and steps aside, momentarily forgetting he was there at all. Would Hotch still be here if he knew what she'd just thought, that her thoughts brought her to complete sickness? Is that why he's here? Could he read her mind? "Sit down. Make yourself at home." she scatters over and adjusts the pillows that are tossed unevenly on the couch, punching them to make them fatter.

Hotch sits down, wiping his hands on the silky material of his work pants. They make a satisfying sliding sound. "It must be weird for you to see me here," he begins. He sits perched forward, elbows to knees, a lot like Emily was a few minutes ago. She watches from a small distance, standing up. "It is kind of strange, I'll admit."

"Not really," but yeah, really.

"I just-" Hotch takes a long time sorting his words out carefully, like he's got options displayed and he's plucking out which ones to use, and which ones to avoid. Like Emily's a ticking bomb and any one sentence can cause her to explode. Tick, tick, tick. But the sound of her own head slowly killing her is soothed at the presence of Hotch, though that makes zero sense to her. She sits down beside him, liking the body heat that's radiating off of him. Things are less scary with him around. "Everything's too quiet."

Outside, the world is full of ruckus. The wind, the rain that's now beginning to sound like hail; the whole world in it's entirety is pretty loud. She raises her eyebrows slowly. "Everything?" she says, peering outside of her window. "It sounds like we'll be getting a storm-"

"That isn't what I mean," he shakes his head disdainfully. "I mean, at my place. It's too quiet. Have you ever just," he takes a long pause, exhales.

She waits, but it's becoming unbearable. She wants to feel him reach her, in the sense that he understands. That it's not just her. "Yes?" she asks dreamily.

"Never mind. I don't know where I was going," but he does. She can sense it. God, he's such a coward. She's such a coward.

"Have you ever just not wanted to think?" she blurts out, without hesitance. Hotch shoots his face up, almost startled by her honesty. But his body softens and he relaxes; cracks his lips into a shape that resembles a possible smile.

"Yeah," he says wholeheartedly, almost heavily, like it hurts to say so much truth in one sitting. "Tonight especially."

Tonight especially, for her too, the noise is extremely loud. Not the noise outside, but the noise inside. Way inside. Inside where her thoughts conspire and her brain works and where there's no damn light-switch. "I don't know how to shut it off," she admits, releasing a short laugh.

"Me neither," he says breathlessly. Hotch isn't used to be so straightforward, either; she's surprised it isn't killing him. "I just thought you could use some company. Since we don't want to be alone."

She nods. "Thank you," she smiles faintly. "I appreciate that." But that's not at all what she wants to say. Thank you for taking me out of my head.

Maybe it's because of the excruciatingly violent case they had finished today, or the fact that they're so consumed by death and violence and gore that it's weighing on them heavily; or maybe they're both mentally ill. Whatever the fact may be, tonight, something occurred. Something was understood. Something connected. And somehow, with the wind rushing on, the rain pattering on the roof, one streetlight bulb flickering on hazily in the midst of the storm; two lives were saved.