A/N: This takes place about a month after "After 100". This is the team's last case without Hotch, who is out on leave in the wake of Hailey's death. I've started it with the climatic scene, just for something a little different. I love movies and TV shows that start in the middle of the action so here's my shot at doing the same.

Thank you to everyone who has me on their alerts, have sent PMs and have left reviews. Y'all make my day. Hope you enjoy my latest folly!


Prologue

Emily stares down the barrel of her gun. The man's smile never falters. The knife he holds against the blonde woman's throat is steady.

"Let her go or I will shoot," Emily tells him.

"No you won't. None of you will. Not while I have her," he pulls the woman tighter to his chest, making her whimper involuntarily.

Emily's trigger finger tenses then relaxes. She knows the rest of her team is there but she is the only one with the right angle, the only one who can possibly stop this man before another woman dies.

"No one else has to die, Edgar. You can walk out of here alive if you put the knife down."

"Let's see…alive in a cell knowing I gave up the chance to kill one last, wonderful time or death as I get off once more?" He leers at her. "It really is orgasmic, you know. Have you killed before Agent Prentiss?"

She doesn't answer but faces flash through her mind. She remembers everyone who had died at her hands.

"Yes…yes, you have. I can tell. I can see it in you eyes. Are you eager to make another tombstone? Eager to send another bastard to hell? Or are you too scared you'll hit her?" He draws his tongue up his captives' ear. The crying woman shivers, fear leaving her speechless.

Emily ignores his sexually aggressive act. She ignores the torn blouse, the missing pants of his captive. She doesn't allow herself to see the tell-tale bruising on the woman's inner thighs. She avoids glancing at the one exposed breast covered in burns and bite marks. She will not stare into the terrified blue eyes.

"Edgar, if you kill her I kill you. You will never even get the chance to celebrate her death. You won't be able to relive any of the deaths. You die and the world goes on. You will be forgotten, your kills never thought of again by anyone. But you put that knife down and let her go then everyone will want to talk to you, to find out about why you did what you did. You'll be the toast of the criminal town."

"Ooo, you really do know the way to a murderers' heart, don't you, Emily. May I call you Emily?"

"Put the knife down and you can call me whatever you like," she replies.

He stares into Emily's eyes. He knows she won't let him walk out of here with his hostage. But he can see she's emotional. The beauty of his own twisted soul is his lack of emotions. Edgar doesn't care about anyone's life. Emily cares about the woman he holds. And that is why she will lose even if she wins.

"I don't think so, Emily. I think it's time to see who's faster: me or you?"

Emily's eyes narrow. It's the end. She sees his arm tense and the knife start to slide across the beaten woman's throat.

She fires.