She was about to speak but something had stopped her. Something hard and very hot stopped her. The force pressed against her lips, crushing them almost, yet in a pleasured way. Before she could process that Aaron Hotchner was kissing her, the pressure against her was gone just…
Immediately after getting home, Emily plopped herself down on her couch. She was way too heated to sleep, and now that she was up, she didn’t think she’d even be able to fall asleep again. All she wanted to do was to run. Running always made the pain go away. At least temporarily it did.
The brunette shifted, trying desperately to calm herself down and trying to fight the urge to just drink her troubles away. She knew there was a full bottle of liquor sitting in her cabinet. She closed her eyes and rested her head against the arm rest of the couch. Alone with her thoughts, she worked her jaw until falling into a restless sleep.
Emily dreamed that someone was knocking on her door. She groaned in her sleep, trying to tune out the noise and calling of her name. The voice sounded like Garcia. Squeezing her eyes shut, Emily slowly drifted into a deeper sleep. “Emily!” She was awoken a few seconds later by being shaken by a cheery voice. “Wake up, love-muffin. The earth says hello!”
She opened her eyes and glared at the large woman standing just above her. “PG? What are you doing here?” The events from the previous night forgotten temporarily, Garcia nodded and moved Emily’s feet off of the couch so she could sit down on the sofa. She looked confused.
"Well, when you didn’t answer your phone-" That was strange. She hadn’t even heard her phone go off. "-I thought I would just come over to get you. You didn’t open the door, so I used my key and let myself in." She shrugged as Emily still didn’t seem to understand. "Em, we’re going to see Bossman, remember? The whole team? Dave brought sandwiches and our special JJ baked dessert." Suddenly remembering, Emily gasped softly. Her eyes flew wide open and she shook her head. No. She was not going back there. Nothing could make her return.
"Oh… Um, PG? I actually don’t think I’m going to go.." Emily brushed a hand through her messy hair and groaned softly, hoping to play sick. Garcia regarded her with big, worried eyes and examined her.
"What’s wrong? Why? Emily, its Hotch. HOTCH." She winked and tried to convince Emily to go. "The man practically makes goo-goo eyes at you. You two have eye-sex all of the time! Now that he’s hurt is your chance to help h-"
"Garcia, stop." Emily shook her head and caught herself before saying anything more. She softened her voice and nodded an apology, "I’m just not feeling well." She shrugged, "I saw him last night, remember? I think I’m going to catch up on some sleep…" Garcia frowned deeply but nodded, "Was he okay when you brought him home last night?" She looked the brunette over carefully and raised an eyebrow playfully. "Is there something you’re not telling me, Emily?"
"Penelope." Emily warned softly, eyeing the blonde. "Everything is fine, don’t worry about me." Garcia nodded and took a deep breath, "Alright… Well, I hope you feel better soon." She turned around and left the apartment, leaving Emily once again to herself. Emily watched the door shut behind Garcia and she sighed. Now what? I’m such an idiot.
She looked around her apartment for her phone but didn’t find it. Slumping back down to the couch, she groaned loudly as she realized where it would be. Sitting on his counter in the kitchen. “I am such a fucking idiot.”
The rest of the team met in the lobby of Hotch’s apartment building. Garcia filled them in on Emily and sighed softly. “She said she was sick… She didn’t look that sick to me, but she was sleeping on the couch when I went up to see her.” Dave nodded and led the team up to Hotch’s room. He knocked on the door and waited for him, holding the tub of food in his arms as they waited for their unit chief to answer. “Hotch, we come bearing food.”
Emily ceased her picking as she felt his eyes on her. Her eyes snapped up to meet his and a breath escaped her as she saw the look he sent her. She shook her head slowly and took a step closer. “Why would I leave when you were there? Hotch, you may not understand, but you’re my…
She was about to speak but something had stopped her. Something hard and very hot stopped her. The force pressed against her lips, crushing them almost, yet in a pleasured way. Before she could process that Aaron Hotchner was kissing her, the pressure against her was gone just like that. Her eyes flew wide open just to see him retreating from her again.
She didn’t know what else to say. One minute he was kissing her and the next he had his back to her again. She tried to speak again but once more, she was shushed. This time it was not a kiss from his lips that made her refrain from speaking. This time it was himself. Still shocked from the kiss, her knees felt like they were going to fall out from underneath her.
“I think you should go, Emily. Goodnight.”
And then he spoke one last time. She nearly choked at hearing the pain in his voice, seeing it etched in his face. Even his stance was guarded. “Hotch, I…” She trailed off and shook her head. What was the use? She tried and tried again to get him to talk to her and he just pushed her away over and over again. Her eyes narrowed and she glared at the back of him. “You know what,” She swallowed hard and took a step back away from him, knocking into the bookcase behind her. Her eyebrows were now furrowed with anger and Emily glanced at the man that was the cause of her anger. She pulled a book off of the shelf and without thinking, she flung it at the back of his head, just as he had turned around over his shoulder. “Bye.” Emily heard the book hit its target and land with a thump, but she didn’t even care.
Her eyes hardened at him as she turned around, grabbing her coat and keys and walking out of the apartment. She walked out without a single look back at Hotch. Mindful of Jack sleeping in the other room, she made sure not to slam the door, no matter how much she wanted to. Her eyes burned as she ran down the stairs, obscuring her vision but not enough to not see clearly. Fumbling with her keys and coat, she unlocked her car and dropped them in the parking lot, just as she was in view of her car. Bending down with a curse, Emily worked her jaw and leaned against the car once she stood to her full height. The first tear fell but before anymore could follow suit, she exhaled through her nose and yanked open the door to her car. Emily climbed in and within moments, she was away from the apartment complex. Within a record of six minutes, Emily was pulling into her own parking lot and slamming the door behind her. Stupid Hotch. How dare he kiss me and then do that.
Emily began to release Jack as Hotch had spoken to the boy in that authoritative tone, telling him it was time for him to go back to sleep. She sucked in a small breath and watched as he nodded, the tears gone from his eyes, but not from his cheeks. She swallowed thickly and…
Emily ceased her picking as she felt his eyes on her. Her eyes snapped up to meet his and a breath escaped her as she saw the look he sent her. She shook her head slowly and took a step closer. “Why would I leave when you were there? Hotch, you may not understand, but you’re my friend. I do care about you, and because you put me down as your contact, I had to be there. I wouldn’t have left you even if I wanted to.” She folded her arms across her chest in a defensive stance.
"I came in the middle of the night because that is what friends do for each other. I’d like to think that you’d do the same." She worked her jaw for a moment and closed her eyes, counting to five. She didn’t want to push him but she knew she was getting dangerously close. "Hotch, you should take your pills. If you’re going to choose to sit here all night, then I’ll stay with you." She shrugged and softened her voice. "You shouldn’t be alone, and friends don’t leave each other when the other is hurting."
The ache in her chest only intensified with his back turned to her. “You don’t have to talk. We can just sit here in silence, but please don’t shut me out completely… That’s all I ask of you, Aaron.” With that, she walked to the table and grabbed her long abandoned glass. She downed the rest of the wine in the glass and went back to the kitchen to refill it so he could have a bit of alone time.
She longed to talk to him and to have him open up, but she knew that wasn’t who he was. She knew that if she did push him too far that she’d end up further away than when they had started. But she also just didn’t want him to freeze her out completely. What they had was real, their friendship was special. At least Emily thought so. She wasn’t sure what to believe after the past few minutes.
After returning to the living room with a filled glass, she stared at him, still by the window. “At least come sit down. It will do you no good to stand there all night.” She shook her head disapprovingly and sighed softly. “Hotch… You can pull this ‘Agent Hardass’ shit with the team and maybe Dave, but don’t try it with me. I know you.” She stared at him, her breath coming off her lips in tiny pants. She wanted him to talk to her, and for some reason, she just couldn’t keep her mouth shut. She just wanted to be there for him. To be that person that could get through to him. Even if he pushed her away.
She watched with a sad smile on her lips as he moved Jack from her arms and brought him down to his bedroom. She took this opportunity to sit on his couch and wait for him to return. For now she was alone with her thoughts. Taking in a soft breath, she closed her eyes, going…
Emily began to release Jack as Hotch had spoken to the boy in that authoritative tone, telling him it was time for him to go back to sleep. She sucked in a small breath and watched as he nodded, the tears gone from his eyes, but not from his cheeks. She swallowed thickly and nodded, giving the boy a hug quickly before releasing him completely. She could sense the tension in the room, and judging by her unit chief’s face, she did not like it at all. Her stomach dropped a bit, realizing that he was about to close himself off again. “I’m sorry about him asking that. I…”
She shook her head, hoping desperately that he wouldn’t put his guard back up, not after what had happened tonight. But she knew that that was exactly what the man was doing. Her unit chief, hard as nails, always had to be the stoic man that he could be. It broke her heart as she watched him place the pieces back together again. She couldn’t help but compare him to Humpty Dumpty. He was broken and he was trying to fix himself, to put his pieces back together again as he fell. She hesitantly reached out, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder but it fell short as he left the couch. “Hotch, it’s fine.” But she knew it wasn’t fine. He wasn’t fine.Just as she had thought they were making some improvement, she had been wrong.
“Thank you for tonight. That was… that was nice.”
Sensing she had overstayed her welcome and that he was definitely asking her to leave indirectly, Emily frowned deeply. Lines creased her face and it made her look a few years older than she was. “Hotch… Did I do something wrong?” She finally forced herself off of the couch and she closed the distance between them warily. She was worried for the man. “Hotch-Aaron, Talk to me.” She swallowed the lump that was returning in her throat and finally stood behind him. She pressed a hand to his shoulder and chewed her lip. “Don’t shut down on me… Please.” She knew her welcome was long overstayed, yet she had no intentions on leaving him, not unless he asked.
And even then she wasn’t sure she wanted to leave him alone. The poor thing had been through so much in the past few years and now it was all coming down on him tonight. Emily closed her eyes and removed her hand from his shoulder as she began to pick at her nails nervously. “Please say something…?” His silence was killing her. Her nerves were eating her from the inside out.
Watching as the lone tear dropped to his shirt, one of Emily’s own tears trickled down. She couldn’t bear to see him cry. Another piece of her heart broke as she exhaled sadly. Her hand rubbed circles along his back as she was careful with his injuries. “I don’t want anyone…
She watched with a sad smile on her lips as he moved Jack from her arms and brought him down to his bedroom. She took this opportunity to sit on his couch and wait for him to return. For now she was alone with her thoughts. Taking in a soft breath, she closed her eyes, going over all of the events in her mind. First was the car accident. She pictured it happening, pictured the car as it spun off the road and whacked into the tree, just as one of the nurses had told her. She was surprised his injuries weren’t worse. She remembered waking up from the loud and shrill ringing of her phone, fighting to ignore it and fall back asleep. Then she had answered it. Her stomach flipped at the memory as she raced out to her car. The panic that had set in as she drove way faster than she’d like to admit. The last thing she really remembered was him breaking down slightly in the car.
Although he hadn’t cried and only one tear was shed, she had known what was to come. The look on his face scared her. It made her freeze, made her chest pound and break, and most importantly, it made her want to cry and hug him tight to her. Aaron Hotchner was a strong man. But no matter what anybody said, she knew there was a point in everybody’s lifetime where you just broke down. His hadn’t come yet, but when it did, she would be there. She promised herself that.
Emily opened an eye as she heard movement in the hallway. Soft footsteps entered the living room and she sighed. She took the glass of wine that he offered her and gave a very tiny smile. “Thanks.” Sucking in a breath, Emily nodded and sipped from the glass. Silence stretched on for several minutes, her eyes closing once more as she felt him lean back into the sofa.
Her drink rested in her hands as she tried to clear her mind. If anybody asked her, she’d deny it, but Emily Prentiss was praying. For the first time in forever. She bowed her head and swallowed hard, praying to the God that she wasn’t even sure existed. She was raised a Catholic but lost faith all of those years ago in Italy on that one day.
She asked “God” for forgiveness and for him to please let the man sitting next to her have a break for a while. She wanted him to be happy again, wanted him to keep Haley’s memory but to be happy and to smile more. It was more of just thoughts circulating around her brain rather than praying.
A soft gasp and quiet sobs pulled her from her thoughts. Her eyes opened immediately and she glanced over at the man, head in hands. Setting her own drink on the table, she slowly moved closer to him, lessening the distance between the two brunettes. Emily inhaled slowly and softly, not exactly knowing how to comfort him but knowing she had to. Carefully the brunette curled her feet up on the sofa and pulled him over to her.
She wasn’t sure what to say so she didn’t say anything at all. She let him rest his head against her chest as she rubbed his back, letting him break down in the peace of his own home. Emily shifted slightly after a few minutes and began to brush her hand over his hair, soothing it down. “I’m here.” She whispered softly into his hair. She pressed her lips against his forehead and sighed. This man had literally been to Hell and back. And not just once. Multiple times. She held him tightly and rocked him slowly, her pained dark eyes closing. She couldn’t promise him that it would all be okay, she didn’t know if it would. But she did know was that she was there with him and would hold him forever if he let her. “Close your eyes, rest.” Her jaw rested on top of his hair. “Jack’s okay. He loves you. Haley loves you.” She was silent for a few minutes and frowned. “I don’t know if I believe in God, but I do know that Haley truly loved and loves you. She would be proud of you.”
Suddenly an idea popped into her mind. She remembered something that her grandmother had taught her when her grandfather had died when she was just eight. It was a Spanish tradition. Emily slowly untangled herself from Aaron, pressing one tiny kiss on his head before she left the room. She had been in the apartment long enough to know where he kept certain items.
Walking into the kitchen, she opened up one of the large cabinets up on the shelf where the coffee mix was kept. She pushed the coffee cans aside and finally found the two items she had been looking for. She brought them over to the living room wordlessly and set them on the table. Tiny glass jars and candles were set out in a cluster. She licked her lip, hoping her plan would work.
Her voice was soft and tentative as she moved slowly. “My grandmother taught me this… When you’re missing somebody-“ She swallowed, “You picture them in your mind and you-“ Emily exhaled softly and nodded, striking the match, “-and you say their name as you light a candle in memory of that person…” She demonstrated with her own, placing one of the tiny mason jars in front of her and bringing the match to the wick of the candle, watching as it caught flame. She quietly uttered, “In memory of Richard Prentiss… My grandfather, My first best friend.” She was silent for the next few minutes, hoping that it would help him as it has helped her all those years ago When she was a young girl.
Her grandfather was her first real friend as a young girl. Moving from school to school was hard. Her grandfather made those years easier for Emily. Her mother barely ever spent time with her, and her father was hardly in the picture at all. He and Elizabeth never got along, resulting in an unhappy marriage. Although there was never a divorce, for divorce looked bad for the press, Christopher Prentiss spent his time away from the family off on business trips.
The flickering light symbolized the life that once was. It reminded her that her grandfather was still alive in her heart.
She was so focused on the light that she didn’t even hear Jack approach. He stood behind the sofa, a blanket clutched around him as he watched. He pouted, watching with gold eyes. “I wanna light one.” Emily looked up from the only light source in the room and turned to the boy with a soft gasp. “Come here, honey.” Glancing at Aaron, she slowly made room for Jack to sit between them on the couch.
“I wanna light one. For mommy” He looked at his father with round, red eyes, pleading quietly as a soft and delicate pout took shape on his face. It made Emily’s heart swell as she watched the two. It was evident that the boy had been crying, just like his father was.
“I hate to ask but… I might need you to help drive me again. I don’t want to inconvenience you, Emily, so just let me know if you’re unable to…”
Emily shook her head and waved her hand. “Say no more.” She shrugged slowly and gave a small smile as she turned towards him….
Watching as the lone tear dropped to his shirt, one of Emily’s own tears trickled down. She couldn’t bear to see him cry. Another piece of her heart broke as she exhaled sadly. Her hand rubbed circles along his back as she was careful with his injuries. “I don’t want anyone else here. I… You’re the only one.” Her eyes widened in slight shock at the sudden turn of events, an eyebrow arching in question. What had just happened?
She swallowed hard, her breath catching in her throat as everything began to make sense. “I need you.” She heard him utter those three words that seemed to change everything, their breath mingling as she held him close into her chest. She swore he could hear how fast her heart was beating against her ribs. Nibbling on her lower lip, she took the chance of a lifetime, even though she pretty much already knew the answer now. “Is that why you listed me as your emergency contact person?” She placed her hand in his and gave it a squeeze, letting him know that she wasn’t going anywhere. With her other hand, she ceased the circular movements on his back and brought it to his cheek. With her thumb, she brushed it along the wet path from the one tear. “I’m here and I won’t go anywhere. Not if you don’t want me to.” She nodded slowly, resting her chin on top of his head. She knew that there would be many more moments like this to come if they decided to do this. Emily studied him with dark brown eyes and sighed softly.
“We should get your son into a real bed… Who knows if he’ll have nightmares or not tonight.” She frowned as she glanced back into the rearview mirror. The boy was still fast asleep, but for how much longer, Emily was uncertain of. “He needs his daddy.” She nudged him and gently sat up, trying not to hurt Aaron.
Aaron. His name sounded somewhat foreign, yet it sounded right. She couldn’t stop thinking about him.
Slowly inhaling and wiping away her own unshed tears, she nodded before turning the car back on. She worked her jaw for a moment as she pulled a U turn in the parking lot. “When we get back to your apartment… Jessica should know… She needs to be told about the accident.” She stared at him with her dark eyes, making sure he understood before she pulled out into the street.
Finally arriving at his apartment, Emily turned he car off and climbed out. She went around back and unbuckled her unit chief’s son, carefully as to not disturb him from his slumber. She lifted him gently from the seat and shut the door behind her. Glancing at Aaron, she looked him over and nodded, “How are you feeling? You’ve been avoiding my question all night.” She stated simply, hoping to actually get a truthful answer from him. Emily carried the four year old up the steps and stifled a yawn as she stood in the door way, waiting for Aaron to meet them there.
Before the thought could slip from her mind, Emily spoke quietly, mindful of the sleeping child in her arms, ”I called the team back at the hospital… They’re going to want to come visit you first thing tomorrow, but I told them not to worry for tonight, that they should stay home and that you’d be okay.”
The long haired brunette caught his eyes with her dark ones. She nodded and gave him the tray, watching as he set it down on a table near the bed. Emily watched as he hesitated before placing his hand over hers. She froze, her heart rate increasing at the sudden contact. She…
“I hate to ask but… I might need you to help drive me again. I don’t want to inconvenience you, Emily, so just let me know if you’re unable to…”
Emily shook her head and waved her hand. “Say no more.” She shrugged slowly and gave a small smile as she turned towards him. “Hotch… Aaron, really. Don’t worry about it.” She smirked slowly. “I like driving you around. It’s fun.” The brunette watched as he got Jack into the backseat, helping him when he needed it. Every so often she would hear him hiss in pain, making her squeeze her eyes shut. She hated seeing him like this, but knew that nothing she could do would help him. It had taken so much time after Foyet for him to actually let her help him. “It’s the least I could do anyway.” With a small smile, Emily turned back to him and opened up the passenger car door for him. “Now I know you probably won’t, but please let me know when I can help you and how I could.” She rolled her eyes with a sigh.
She buckled her own seat belt once she was in the driver’s seat and nodded, “Ready?” She glanced back as Jack had fallen asleep in the back seat. Her gaze shifted over to the man in her passenger seat, making her lips pout a bit. “I’m sorry this happened.” She pulled out of the parking lot and drove in silence, trying to think and process all of the night’s events. He had held her hand and she had let him. The way he looked at her back when she was comforting Jack. She swallowed hard, coming to a red light. Finally his voice broke the silence, making her jump slightly. He had been so silent that she had almost forgotten that both Hotchners were there with her. “I almost lost him again, Emily.”
She shook her head, not saying anything. What could she say? How could she possibly comfort him in a time like this? She glanced quickly over at him, seeing the unshed tears in his red eyes. “Hotch…” Before she could say anything or do anything more, he continued.
“He’s never safe with me. I’m the…” She shook her head once more and swallowed, knowing full well what was coming. He was going to blame himself for this accident. The light changed from red to green and she drove, stepping on the gas. “Don’t say it.” She chewed her lip raw, her chest aching.
Emily watched as he beat himself up. Her heart tore in two for the man. Her eyes traveled to the glowing digits on the dashboard and sighed. Already nearing 2am. Deciding what to do, she flicked her blinker on and pulled into an empty parking lot. “Haley kept him safe. Haley never had him injured like this.” She stopped the car and watched as he took in that painful breath. She was unprepared for the words that came next. They killed her inside. “I… It should’ve been me. He’d be safer if it had been me.”
Emily gasped softly, her heart pounding in her chest, the blood rushing to her head. How could he say that? How could he blame himself? She shook her head and took off her seat belt, her own tears welling in her eyes and threatening to spill over. “Aaron, don’t you dare.” She mumbled softly yet firmly. “Don’t say that. You have a son who loves you. He looks up to you. It was a car accident! You couldn’t have controlled it no matter what happened.” She swallowed hard and slowly reached for him, pulling him close to her. She lowered her voice, her eyes softening. “You can’t say that. None of this was your fault. Haley… Haley was an amazing woman. She was a great mother.” She nodded and slowly pulled him closer into her chest, taking a huge risk. “Life is unfair and bad things happen…” Her voice was breaking as she continued, “But… I think that we’re all here to remind everybody that the good guys still win. ” She looked down at him with cloudy eyes. “Aaron. You can’t blame yourself for this. He already lost his mother… He can’t lose you too.” She lowered her voice to a whisper. “I can’t lose you.” She pulled back a fraction and slowly loosened her grip on him. “You have nothing to blame yourself for. You’re not a terrible father.” She cupped the side of his face with the palm of her hand. “You don’t give yourself enough credit. It’s one of your weaknesses. Jack was crying for you in that hospital. Not anybody else. YOU. He knows that you love him, and he loves you too. This isn’t under your control. And despite what you think, you’re not alone. I’m here with you. You’re never alone, Aaron.”