Prentiss was quiet as she sat on the airplane, looking around at her teammates. Although the plane was still rattling and dipping with the turbulence, no one looked concerned anymore, perhaps due to Reid's constant stream of facts about the improbability of a crash, but also no doubt due to their newfound relaxation. JJ and Reid were playing cards and Reid was growing increasingly confused and irritable as JJ won game after game. Morgan was sitting next to JJ with a dogeared copy of Slaughterhouse 5 in his hand, occasionally making teasing comments to Reid, and slipping JJ the winning cards when Reid wasn't looking. Prentiss smiled at the trio, but her smile dropped when her eyes moved over to Hotch and Rossi who were talking quietly and seriously in the corner. The lighthearted expression that had been on Hotch's face for most of the weekend was gone, and Prentiss felt like that signified the end: the end of the case, the end of their short break from the stress of the BAU, the end of their brief relationship, if it could even be called that.
The team had only been there for two full days, but Prentiss had become strangely attached the grand hotel with its high ceilings, long corridors and roaring fires. It was a novel sensation for her; she had moved around so much in her youth that she never let herself feel at home anywhere, always poised on the precipice of moving on, ready to uproot her life with as little emotional trauma as possible.
But the hotel felt different; it was a place where the typical rules didn't seem to apply, a place where it was acceptable to sleep with your Unit Chief, and fall asleep in his arms after a difficult case without any awkwardness or even talking about what it might mean. It was especially strange how right it had all felt. And now that she was leaving that wonderful little bubble, all she could feel was regret, and an anxious knot in her stomach at the prospect of having to face up to the real, and potentially rather awkward consequences.
They were back in the bureau by 7 o'clock that night; most of the team only stopped long enough to drop off their go-bags and check their e-mails before they left again, but Erin Strauss had demanded that Prentiss and Hotch stay behind to write up the case.
Prentiss sat at her desk in the deserted department with her elbow resting on the table and her head in her hand. Her right hand was beginning to ache with the amount of writing she had been doing in the last two hours. Both she and Hotch were expected to give comprehensive reports on the entire case, paying special attention to the part where Prentiss nearly shot Hotch and he almost fell to his death from a sixth-storey balcony. Recalling the details wasn't an issue however; the wind was rising in Quantico too, as if the storm had followed them home, and every time a gust of wind drove the rain noisily into the windows, Prentiss was transported to the balcony, vivid images of the ordeal flashing in front of her eyes. She could hear the wind whipping through the empty windows, feel her heart pounding painfully against her ribs, the cold panic as she saw Hotch begin to fall… Every so often she would look up to Hotch's office where he was sitting, poring over his own report, his hand rubbing his forehead, and the fear would leave her again. But soon after, the sound of the worsening weather became too distracting, so she gathered up her notes in her arms and climbed the few stairs to Hotch's office, knocking softly on the door.
"Can I come in?"
"Of course," he said. "I was actually about to come and ask you something." He gestured for her to sit across from him and he resumed his seat behind the desk.
"Shoot," she said.
"I'm trying to fill out this report," he said, "but there's one part I can't account for."
"Which part?" she asked.
"Well, the last thing I remember was you taking the shot, and I felt Ford's blood running down my back. Next thing I know, Ford's gone and I'm on the other side of the balcony."
"You're only missing a few seconds," Prentiss said, opening her file to read her unadorned account verbatim from the page, worried that if she began to describe it in her own words, the vivid images would submerge her again. "Basically, I took the shot, Ford fell back, pulling you with him, I grabbed you and he went over. You were only unconscious for five, maybe ten seconds tops."
But he didn't seem to be really listening and Prentiss had the feeling that that hadn't been what he had wanted to ask her at all. He was looking at her with his pen unmoving on the paper, and opened his mouth to speak, but Prentiss wanted to get the first word in.
"Listen, about the other night," she said hastily. "We'd both had a rough day, and then there was the storm and the power outage and it just sort of happened and -"
"Would you like to go to dinner with me?" he asked, interrupting her directionless gushing.
"I, um…" She was fully expecting him to say the whole thing had been a mistake and that it shouldn't happen again, so it took her a few seconds of blank staring to process what he had said.
"Look, I was as surprised by what happened the other night as you were," he said. "And yes, we'd had a rough day, but that doesn't mean that it was meaningless or a mistake." He leaned forward across the desk. "Emily, I care about you, and I don't want to go back to just having a professional relationship, because that night was…"
"Amazing," she finished with a laugh, looking down at the desk and trying to stop her cheeks from flushing at the far more pleasant memories that were now flashing through her mind.
"I'm not saying we need to jump into anything," he said, "but maybe we could see where this goes?"
"I'd like that," she said.
"Yes," she said, but then she remembered Strauss's deadline. "What about the reports?"
"We'll come back and finish them later," he said, standing up and taking the file from her hand. The wind moaned and the lights flickered for a moment, and Prentiss found herself smiling at the memory of their night in the hotel.
"You think we'll have another power outage?" Hotch asked, looking up at the square office lights.
"Wouldn't be the worst thing in the world," Prentiss smiled. He took her hand in his and they walked together to the elevator. As they stepped inside, she glanced at Hotch, and she realised that the sense of happiness and safety she had felt in the hotel hadn't been a result of their location, because she felt the same way in the elevator as she had in the hotel: like she had come home. Hotch pressed the button for the ground floor and turned to face her with a small smile and look in his eyes that told her there was no way in hell Strauss was getting her reports that night.
A/N Well that's it for now! I really hope you enjoyed this short little fic. Please leave a review if you did. I might continue it at some point if I can create something I'm happy with, but for now - thank you and bye! C x