A/N: Good news! I was able to finish this while watching football! (Pity my wife. Trust me!) Will post it over the next few days but still nothing new after this until next week due to our Tennesse trip. Kind of like "It Takes a Village" it will flash from the committee hearing to the days leading up to it. Enjoy!


Thursday, 8:49 a.m., Conference Room at The Hoover Building in D.C.

"So you are saying the NCIS agent is to blame for the shooting of Agent Jareau?"

"No, sir, I did not say that. My report states the facts. Agent Brewster separated from my team to investigate on her own. She did not alert us when she found the door to the basement, nor did she signal us when she first saw Agent Prentiss. That delay gave Hank Beamer time to attack and bind her, as well as move Dr. Reid from the dumbwaiter to the room where Prentiss and Brewster were being held."

Hotch had taken his place in front of the committee at exactly 8 a.m. From the minute the chairman had started speaking he had questioned every bit of Hotch's official report. More than once he had stopped just short of accusing Hotch of falsifying the report to protect the BAU. Hotch had expected no less.

"Chief Hotchner, didn't you think it completely reckless to send a pregnant agent undercover? Especially one who had recently had to deal with trauma associated with a previous undercover operation?"

"Agent Prentiss had been cleared for full duty by a FBI psychiatrist. Additionally, she sought help with a doctor specializing in PTSD. Had she shown any hesitation at all regarding the assignment I would not have allowed her to go forward with the cover. As to her being pregnant, this was a low risk operation. We have no idea how the covers for her and Dr. Reid were blown."

"A low risk operation," the chairman says condescendingly. "Getting captured by the killer and nearly shot doesn't sound low-risk to me."

Hotch sits forward. "Risk is calculated at the time the operation is planned. Though you try to plan for all eventualities there are still unknowns in every situation. The plan was to get the agents to a safe house where we could draw the unsub in. For reasons we will never know, he broke his M.O. and went after them at the contest instead of waiting for Sunday as he had with previous victims."

"I see." The man shuffles around several papers in front of him. "Now, the killer was not the only one that ended up dead that night. How did the bar owner, the killer's brother, also end up dead?"

"He reacted badly to the death of his brother. He pulled a firearm and aimed in our direction. Agents Rossi, Jareau and I all fired. He was able to get one shot off before we stopped him."

"Ah, yes. One shot. Agent Jareau got quite lucky."

"Yes, she did."

"Which brings me to my next question, how wise is it to have two members of your team married?"

"Very wise. They have never once put their marriage ahead of the job. They have carried themselves with a professionalism even I admire. I'm not sure I could have been as strong in the same situations that they have been in."

"Well, that's all very sweet. But tell me, Chief Hotchner, would your team have spent 2 solid weeks hunting down Ian Doyle if Agents Jareau and Prentiss weren'tmarried?"

"Yes," Hotch answers without hesitation. "If Doyle had taken any member of my team or any other agent in the Bureau, we would have worked just as hard to bring them home."

"Really? So you weren't pressured by Agent Jareau to waste time and resources on what could have been a body recovery operation?"

Hotch stiffens. "Never, sir. If I hadn't been convinced we would bring Agent Prentiss home alive I wouldn't have worked 24 hours a day for 2 weeks trying to find her. We all believed she was coming home. We worked with other departments to track down every possible lead we could until we found her."

"I see. And are you willing to bring your case files to this hearing?"

"No, sir. They have since been coded classified. Without proper authorization I cannot release them."

"Even if it means your badge, Chief Hotchner?"

"Even if, sir," Hotch states definitively.

The chairman sits back. He glances at one man, a trained profiler, who gives a slight nod. Hotch was telling the truth. The chairman sighs.

"You're dismissed for now, Chief Hotchner. I remind you that you cannot discuss the contents of this hearing with anyone on your team. Additionally you will make sure you are available should further questions arise."

Hotch nods. "Understood, sir."

He gets up and heads out of the hearing room. It was a witch hunt. And if Hotch plays his cards right, the only one getting burned at the stake would be him. He runs a hand through his hair.

"Sanctimonious son of a bitch," he mutters as he waits for the elevator. As he waits, he glances back down the hall to see a door open and a man escort Emily into the hearing room. He had wondered who would be next up. He is surprised.

"I thought they would go after JJ next," he thinks to himself.

When the elevator door opens he steps in, knowing it is likely he will be back here before they are done with their investigation. He can only pray the hearing ends quickly and his team (his former team?) can get back to their normal lives.

He pulls a key out of his pocket and stares at it. Time to get the hell out of here for now.