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Hotchner Down

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Emily feels her stomach drop when she sees two of her men drop. Her heart goes with it when she notices that one of them has jet black hair. Even as the innocent victim cries out and runs into Rossi’s arms, the one yelling and the one who shoots the UNSUB. She watches Rossi scoop the young girl up and yet all she can think about is the prone forms of two of their own.

Morgan rushes over to the other one, not the one with black hair.

She knows she should move. She should do something but what if-

It’s some cop, he’s clutching a nasty scratch but at worst it’s just a through and through. Morgan leaves him.

Emily moves, on autopilot. She steps over the beat cop and stares at the prone figure of her Supervisory Special Agent.

Rossi is patting the back of an ambulance, sending their victim away with the medical professionals as Reid shakes his head and informs the other beat cops that the UNSUB is dead.

Hotch has his eyes squeezed shut, his entire body rigid with pain.

He could feel them watching him, hear their rattling breath like an evil wind around him. The nearest dementor seemed to be considering him. Then it raised both its rotting hands - and lowered its hood.

He keeps his eyes closed tight.

Focus. He breathes but it sounds more like a rattle. His body lacks the capability to push air out of his lungs with enough force to do something. Instead, he remains motionless on his back wheezing.

Where there should have been eyes, there was only thin, grey scabbed skin, stretched blankly over empty sockets, But there was a mouth… a gaping, shapeless hole, sucking in air with the sound of a death rattle.

When they prepare you for fieldwork in the academy they tell you that the fastest shooters, the ones with the best aim, are going to thrive. That all you need in the field is a little speed, some agility and the ability to stay headstrong.

Wrong.

It seemed like that’s how most things he learned in the academy went.

He won top in his class for marksmen ship, set a record that still hasn’t been beat and here he lays.

A widower.

A single father.

A murderer.

Dying.

But a pair of strong, clammy hands suddenly attached themselves around Harry’s neck. They were forcing his face upward… He could feel its breath… It going to get rid of him first-

“Aaron,” he hears rather than sees a body fall down next to his own. It’s Emily. He knows that the scent of lavender and Earl Grey tea is all her. JJ thinks that the tea tastes like flowers, that she’d rather just lick a flower. Garcia-

Garcia said-

Garcia-

“Hey,” his face stings and he knows it’s because of the reddening hand that Emily is now holding near his face. She slapped him. “Keep your eyes open.”

Right, that’s why he was quoting Harry Potter to himself.

“Jack…” yeah, because Jack made him ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ so many fuc-

“Stop.” He hadn’t realized that he was trying to set up until she puts a strong hand on the center of his chest and pushes down. It’s while he’s being pushed down, this inkling in the back of his head and he tries to move and he- he can’t.

“Em-” he tries to get up again but it’s like she already knows because she’s shaking her head and yelling mutely at him. He can see her lips forming words he can recognize but he hears none of it.

When Foyett had stood over him, after knocking him to the floor and pinning him down, something like this had happened then.

Then he sees the word form on Emily’s lips and he knows.

‘Shock’

“Aaron!” She pulls his body towards her, making him seat up more than he’s been able to push himself up to.

This time, when his vision fades and dances he lets it. He doesn’t fight it. It’s better for Jack if he doesn’t. It’s better for them all.

------------------

Dave can remember the day they recruited Hotch. He was a bright-eyed kid who only knew his town’s law force and law school. He was good but he wasn’t being pushed.

He was excited and so eager. He was young. He would sit on the ground, his legs crossed and eat like a growing boy. To his defense, he wasn’t even thirty and his adult brain still hadn’t adapted to the fact that no one will take his food from him.

Dave watched his skills become refined. He learned to use his understanding of the law as an advantage and by the end of the year, they had finally convinced him he was apart of their team.

Now, the bright-eyed boy who had fawned at the idea of working with the David Rossi is lying hooked to wires and machines as they breathe for him. If he wakes up, he might be paralyzed or have brain damage. That’s if he wakes up.

The heart in his chest, the one now working at a rate that’s hardly up to standards, had nearly pumped all of his blood out of his body. They had lost him. Not the for the first time and that’s what is killing Dave.

He brought this on. Hotch would have been so much safer as a beat cop.

“Dwayne Hoover got through lunch all right that day. He remembered now about Hawaiin Week. The ukuleles and so on were no longer mysterious.” Emily reads aloud, a soft voice that he’s not really meant to hear and Dave knows she’s reading to her unconscious lover. He just can’t think of any of Aaron’s favorite books but he’s almost positive none of them came in bright orange.

“What’re you reading?” He tries to get a better look at the cover, cutting her off from reading the next line of the page.

She smiles, it doesn’t reach her eyes like a happy smile,” Vonnegut.” When she looks at Hotch the smile is all the way to her eyes,” he hates Vonnegut. I made him reread them anyway. He says that he’s a sexist and-and ostentatious but he just says things that no one else has been able to capture the way he did.”

She flips the book over in her hand. It’s obvious that it’s an older copy and as the blue letters flip in her hand he sees the words ‘Breakfast of Champions’. Just the way she holds it, the way her fingers trail down the spine, the two of them must have really bonded over Vonnegut.

“So I figured,” she glances at Aaron, a soft smile that pulls at the tops of her eyebrows. “I would read it to him. Just to see if it would piss him off just enough to wake him up. You know?”

Dave does know.

It’s along the lines of the same theories the other’s had.

Garcia has filled the white hospital room with pictures of the team. She’s got the blanket from the jet draped over Hotch’s legs. There are so many of her little trolls all over the room, all mostly staring at him.

Reid brought in a small radio. When he comes into the room, he plays the Beatles White Album and sometimes reads Sherlock Holmes out loud.

Morgan comes in to pace. He’ll usually have a case file in his hand, open with the wide span of his fingers and back and forth he goes. He talks to Hotch as if the other man could speak and when Morgan leaves in a rush, they all know he’s stumbled upon something.

JJ comes when she thinks no one sees her. She brings Jack and Henry once or twice a week. But she needs time too. She comes in and speaks softly to him. She talks to him instead of at him as the other’s tend to. Sometimes, she talks about her sister. She talks about Will and the wedding that she wants but still hasn’t gotten. And once, only once, she cried and kissed his head and begged him to come back.

He’s always been like a big brother to her and she can’t lose another…

“All this was stored away in Dwayne’ memory, in case he should need it later on. He had all kinds of stuff in there.” Emily continues on.

They won’t give up on him and Dave has yet to decide if that’s a good thing or bad.