(Things We Don't Know) About Each Other
This was where she needed to be. This was where she could erase everything she heard or saw. This was where she could pound her body through it's worst paces and come out feeling incredibly alive. If she had to ice her entire body afterwards, it would always be worth it.
She sailed through the air, her hands holding her body weight for only a split second before she was on her feet again, only to bounce back into the air. It wasn't the best facility, but they didn't ask questions when she came in, gym clothes in hand, and took to the equipment. They often left the place open late for her use, seeming to sense how important it was for her to do this. Over her years with the BAU, she'd grown to know the staff. They didn't mind, so long as she locked up.
It felt glorious. She couldn't remember when she'd started, all she could remember was that this was where nothing could touch her. Her brain carried her body through the motions without much thought, her mind clear as she allowed the adrenaline and exercise carry her away to a different world, a different time, when the criminals were something she heard about in the news and not the people she chased every day. It had always been her escape, always been the place she needed to keep herself sane. It didn't matter where she was around the world, so long as they had a place for her to do this.
She curved, jumped, twisted, tucked, stopping when she made a mistake to make the pass again or to start from the absolute beginning. She wished she could do others, but that wasn't what she was in the mood for. She had enough danger, she didn't need to balance precariously on four inches of wood, nor did she feel the need for speed or the need to fly.
She was huffing and puffing when she finally she decided she might have kept the demons at bay for one more day, one more night. Maybe she'd be in a world of competition in her dreams tonight instead of hearing a young woman's blood-curdling screams. One more try, one more go. Then, when she was sure she could still do it perfectly, she'd stop.
What surprised her was the applause she heard at the end. She'd just landed her last pass, her arms up in the customary end position, presenting her perfect routine to the imaginary judges. She was flushed, sweating, her hair everywhere from the lack of hairspray and the abundance of wind through her tumbling. She was embarrassed.
"I didn't know you were a gymnast."
Emily tried for a smile, trying to keep the embarrassment from her face and the exhaustion from making her too gross to look at. She wished he'd waited until she'd had a shower. Then again, he probably would have missed her. She shrugged as her chest heaved and he approached. "I'm not."
His eyebrow arched elegantly. "It certainly didn't look like it."
She shrugged again, too out of breath still to really explain why she needed this place. "I shouldn't." She went for the water bottle by the wall, starting her own customary stretches for cool down. She'd be as sore as crazy tomorrow if she didn't stretch herself out after that kind of a work out.
She had no idea what had made him come looking for her. For that was what he would have to do to have found her. She was careful. This was something that was hers and hers alone. She didn't share. This was one of those crannies that she hid from her colleagues. He wasn't dressed in his suit, a welcome change. Instead, he wore sweatpants, trainers and an FBI-issue t-shirt. How like him.
It shouldn't have surprised him when he automatically moved to help her push her stretches further, but her breath hitched in her throat. "What brings you down here?" Conversation, that would distract her.
He, on the other hand, was not distracted from the muscles under his hands. The woman was flexible as hell and now he knew why. He'd seen her do some pretty complicated stretches during a few of their team spar sessions – a fun game Derek had developed for those interested. He now also understood how she found a way to always evade them and never be out of breath. "Coming to see if anyone was in for a fight."
"It was a bad one."
That went without saying. She winced as she rolled her shoulder, too tired to worry about the weakness it portrayed. He was concerned when she looked up. "Old injury," she promised. "Doesn't bug me in the field."
"But it bothers you here."
She nodded. "Of course it does. I put it through it's paces. Probably one too many handsprings for the shoulder to take."
"And you do this all the time?"
Emily shrugged, now uncomfortable with sharing such a private part of her life. "It's calming."
He raised an eyebrow.
"It's like when Derek goes to the gym and works himself until he can't move," Emily said, trying to find an equitable scenario. "That's calming to him."
"You do gymnastics."
She shrugged. "Not exactly part of the FBI handbook, but it's come in handy once or twice on cases."
"For the BAU?"
"St Louis," Emily admitted with another blush. "There was a guy that was hopping between fire escapes and things, down alleys… There was a bar. I strained my shoulder and was out of the field for two weeks, but it was worth it for that takedown."
It didn't surprise him that Emily had thrown herself into the chase. He'd seen her do it more than once. He was moving again without the conscious permission of his brain, turning her and pushing roughly into the muscles of her back. It was surprising how watching her twist and spin and flip on the floor had released some of the tension in his body. She was graceful, mind-boggling. He didn't feel the need to fight so acutely anymore.
She dropped her head forward, ruthlessly shoving the hyper-awareness to the back of her mind and simultaneously stretching muscles he wasn't kneading. He was good at it. She felt him take a step closer behind her, felt his breath on her neck the second before his mouth made contact with the back of her shoulder. Her entire body was suddenly on high alert, her legs tense, even if she managed to keep her back mostly relaxed.
This was new territory he was breaking, territory Emily wasn't sure she'd even known he could. To the extent of her knowledge they harboured a not-so-secret tolerance of each other. It was the living equivalent of the Golden Rule. Do unto others and all that. She had no idea what he was doing, but she did know her body's reaction and her body was asking for more.
Her skin was soft under his lips. Hotch had no idea what had inspired him to reach out to her, had no idea why he continued up the column of her neck to her earlobe, had no idea why his hands had softly migrated around her sides to splay across her stomach. He was holding her to him, giving her no escape, but she didn't seem to want to as she tilted her neck to the side. She was responding.
Lust rose in him, unbidden, but not entirely unwelcome. He wasn't often a slave to his own emotions or the urges that made him human, but it had been a long time since he'd felt like this. It had been a long time since he'd had anyone like this.
Emily couldn't make herself pull away. She knew it was wrong, knew that this was her supervisor, but she was tired and there hadn't been a man in a while that made her tingle the way he was. And she could feel those tingles all the way to her toes. Her body shivered, more from his ministrations than from the sweat drying on her body. She could feel his hands, hot and heavy against her abdomen as her own came up to cover them, to lace their fingers together.
The intimate touch shocked him. He'd expected her to push him away, to fall back on the ethical rules they were in the process of obliterating. Her resistance never came. It was a rush to his senses, her skin tasting salty under his teeth and lips and tongue. Her body was swaying against his, surprisingly relaxed. He eased up on his assault of her neck and shoulder, gauging her reaction.
And he wasn't disappointed. Her fingers clutched his, squeezing for an instant before she was facing him, hands held tightly in her own. Her eyes were what scared him, what made him nervous. They held a clear knowledge of what they were doing just under that film of lust he was counting on. She seemed to take a deep breath to center herself before saying anything.
"I don't know what we're doing," she said, voice almost a whisper. "But I'm not sure I want it to stop."
If there was ever a good time to bow out gracefully, this was it. They could both blame it on adrenaline, on exhaustion and he knew she'd never bring it up again. He was sure he liked that idea one bit and he wasn't sure he wanted to take the time to analyze why. What he did know was that whatever Emily was within the team, she was also an attractive woman, sexy, vibrant, compassionate, all things he'd noticed in the time since his divorce had been finalized.
"I'm not sure either," he admitted, tucking a wayward curl behind her ear. "Where do we go from here?"
Despite his closeness and the soft brush of his fingertips against her cheekbone, down her neck and across her collar bones, Emily's mind was surprisingly clear. Maybe it was the shocking reality that it was her supervisor here, her team leader, and the complications and consequences could go further than that of a regular night. And yet, her gut told her that Hotch was too lupine to believe in or allow one-night stands. That in itself brought upa whole new lines of questions, 'what if's and terrifying prospects of an office filled with awkwardness.
Risk versus reward.
How much was she willing to risk to see if the payoff was any good?
Especially when she realized that whatever blatant attraction was currently racing through her blood was one that had probably always been there. She'd never, ever acknowledged it, never thought twice about it with the exception of a few fleeting thoughts to her boss' more attractive features, It had been something completely dormant. It had to be. She didn't believe in love at first sight and they'd known each other too long for it to be lust at first sight.
"There's…" She didn't want to voice it out loud, to put a name to the massive barriers standing between them. Despite the fact that their emotional and personal barriers were the lowest they'd ever been between them, there was still the looming wall of the Bureau and all even the slightest push from either of them could send them absolutely reeling.
But then there was the way the blood was starting to hum in her veins, the tingle that shot off all of the nerves in her body. She wanted to shiver, to find some way to relieve herself of the pressure building within her. Her body wanted him but her mind didn't want the complications that came with him. He, apparently, had other plans entirely.
His hands slid down her arms, bracketing her hips in his palms. She couldn't seem to force her hands to stay still either. They'd started at his shoulders, made their way down until they rested very lightly just above his hipbones. It was enough of a barrier to keep him from pressing forward, pulling her flush against him while maintaining a slightly intimate touch. She didn't stop him when his fingers stroked the skin between her shirt and her shorts.
He knew what she was talking about, understood that the possible consequences of the blood pumping through his veins could be deadly for both of them. He wasn't sure he could stop, not with her so close, not with their walls down and the only thing standing between them the massive shadow of the Bureau. But there were other things he knew as well. He knew that no matter what happened between them tonight, things had been changed irrevocably. Even if they didn't go any further, even if either one of them pulled the plug now, there was no way he would be able to go back to the way they were. She'd seen too much for him to be able to effectively hide it now.
Emily's head fell forward, ponytail falling over her shoulder. Hotch could smell her shampoo, the light smell of roses that was more often than not overpowered by vanilla and lavender. His body moved for him, his lips making contact with that dark head. She sighed, her breath a hot cloud through the light cotton of his t-shirt. Then she was pulling away, her fingers trailing along his forearm until she grasped his hand in her own. She led him to the wall with her gym bag, sliding down the hard surface until she was on the floor. He followed her, unsure.
She smiled at him, hooking her pinkie with his pointer finger as her head rested back against the wall, eyes closed. "We can't," she said.
"Even if…" she trailed off, unsure whether she wanted to open herself so completely to him. "Even if the Bureau wasn't there…"
Hotch wrapped his whole hand around hers, watching her, understanding. Even if the Bureau wasn't there, they would never be sure if the emotion between them stemmed from true attraction or if it was as much the emotional torture of the case as the feelings they evoked in the other. If anything was going to come of this, he didn't want her worrying about whether his emotions were real or a result of a case. He couldn't ask that of her. He wouldn't.
Before anyone says anything, I know that Emily doing gymnastics as a way to cool down and to still be in shape at the age she is, is a highly unlikely scenario. Consider it AU if you have to.
This was originally supposed to be a oneshot, but it was starting to be epic length and I discovered there were different things I wanted to do... It's not meant to be long, but we'll see where it goes. This does, however, take almost a very back seat to the other stories I've got on the go, depending on my inspiration. Such is life, my friends.
Reviewing is highly appreciated!