Author's Note:

I had the idea for the title of this story as a way to continue their world post The Hours, but I had absolutely no intention of actually writing anything for it now. Unfortunately though, this came to me and I had to get it out of my head because it was distracting me from working on season three stuff. And you'll see, this is not an idea I could work anywhere into the prequel.

This is completely unbeta'd because I already have Arcadya loaded down with chapters right now and didn't want to throw anything else at her. So, surprise Arc!

Late August 2009

Family, Redefined

Hotch reached up and pulled Emily down into his lap. Then he tucked her head under his chin.

"I'm sorry sweetheart."

"Me too," Emily sniffled as she turned her face into his neck.

As upset as Hotch was personally about this setback, seeing her cry made it even worse. And as he rubbed his hand along her back, he looked down at her sadly.

"Please don't let it get you too down Emily. Remember, we weren't even trying."

Emily picked up his other hand and started playing with his fingers.

"I know. I just got excited," she sighed, "which I shouldn't have because then I wouldn't be so disappointed right now." She sat back, wiping her face, "it's probably for the best anyway. I mean we haven't even set a date yet and . . ." she gave him an ironic smile, "it has been kind of a full year already." Hotch's eyes crinkled as he gently wiped away another tear that had slipped down her cheek.

"That's my girl. Always the queen of the understatement." Emily gave him a watery smile as she leaned up to brush her lips against his before she rested her head against his chest, "I love you."

Hotch wrapped his arms tightly around her and kissed the top of her head, "I love you too, and when it's time, it'll happen," he squeezed her, "right?" She huffed against his t-shirt, "right." Leaning back, her mouth twitched as she looked into his eyes, "after all you have just decreed it."

Quirking his lip up, he gave her one dimple, "I have indeed." She never could resist the dimples, even before they got together, so she gave him a full grin in return as she stood, pulling him up off the tub with her, "come on your highness, we'll be late for work." Eyes crinkling Hotch started to follow her to the door, then he stopped and squeezed her hand.

"You know what? If you want to go start the coffee, I'll get my shower out of the way now and then I'll make you breakfast," he smiled, "Grandma Charlotte's pancakes."

Emily turned back to look at him . . . he always made special pancakes when he wanted to cheer her up. It was a good thing her eyes were already red rimmed because she could feel them starting to burn again. She stood on her tiptoes so she could give him a thank you kiss, sliding her tongue past his lips and moaning slightly when he responded by running his tongue over the ridge of her mouth.

She pulled back with a grin.

"We don't have time for that and pancakes."

His lip quirked up, "and I guess you're choosing pancakes."

Her eyes sparkled as she smiled sweetly at him.

"I am choosing pancakes, but we can finish this discussion tonight." With one more quick peck on the lips she started to walk away and then turned back at the bedroom door with her eyebrow raised suspiciously, "you had better not be planning on using all the hot water."

Folding his arms in front of his chest, Hotch scoffed, "please, like I'd make my girl take a cold shower."

Rolling her eyes Emily responded in the same tone, "yeah, well SOMEBODY used all the hot water, because last week when I got out of the shower 'your girls' were so cold they were standing at attention."

On that parting note Emily exited the room. Hotch's lips twitched as he called after her.

"And here I'd thought you were just happy to see me!"

He heard Emily's bark of laughter as she headed down the hall. Hotch smiled but then sobered quickly as he stood staring for a moment at the empty doorway. Then he turned and went back into the bathroom, going over to take the bag out of the trash barrel. He took one last look at the white stick with the single solid black line on it before sighing and tying off the ends of the garbage. He put the bag over by his night table; he was planning to dump it in the trash chute while she was in the shower. But he wanted both the stick and the box out of sight before she came back upstairs. Seeing them in the bathroom would have just made her sad again. She'd only been a few days late but she'd been so convinced she was pregnant, that God was making up for all the crap he put her through earlier this year.

Hotch shook his head.

If life had taught him anything, it was that there wasn't any cosmic balance to the scales. He was just grateful she was healthy, and the baby . . . well, that would hopefully come along in time. He wanted one as much as she did, but for now, he had her, and he had Jack, and he was happy. And he knew that she was too. She'd just gotten excited that they would be expanding their family a little earlier than they'd planned. But she'd be okay.

They'd certainly dealt with worse news this year.

After he'd crossed over to the dresser, Hotch's gaze fell down to the picture of greatest prominence. Him, Jack and Emily, on Jack's first day of pre-school.

Haley had taken it.

Hotch and Emily had met her there so that all three of them could drop Jack off. And though Jack didn't cry, both Emily and Haley did as soon as they saw him standing there with his lunchbox. He'd looked at them . . . Hotch knew that he loved one almost as much as the other . . . and then went over and wrapped his arms around first his mother's leg, and then Emily's. Then he'd stepped back and smiled, even giving them the Hotchner dimples, as he told them not to be sad because he was going to have fun.

And of course him being so grown up and mature . . . he was going to be five soon . . . made them cry even harder. And his son had turned back to him, with a clear look of confusion on his little face.

"Daddy make them stop."

Hotch told him if he'd had that magic wand he would have marketed it years ago. But fortunately that exchange was enough to make the women start laughing, and Hotch quickly took advantage of the change in spirits by having Jack take a picture with first Haley, and then with Emily.

It was always Haley first.

He and Emily were respectful that though Emily was for all intents Jack's stepmother, Haley would always be his mother. After that, Haley had kindly offered to take a picture of Emily and Hotch with Jack. From there, the three of them brought Jack to his homeroom.

As soon as the women saw the little desks, Hotch had to put a hand on each of their backs to get them out of there before they got a whole room full of four year olds bawling.

Afterwards, the three adults had gone for coffee. It was actually a good bonding experience for all of them. Hotch had watched as the only two women he had ever loved, traded pictures out of their wallets of the same little boy. And as Hotch stared down now at the photo on the dresser, remembering that day, he felt his own melancholy about their morning, dissipating.

Families were funny things, you could try and plan them, but sometimes . . . if you were lucky . . . they just fell together on their own.

He went back into the bathroom and started the shower. Letting the water heat up while he slipped off his t-shirt and boxers and tossed them into the hamper. As he stepped into the tub and the spray hit his face, Hotch decided to call Haley when he got to the office. After work he and Emily could pick up Jack and take him to Chuck E. Cheese for dinner. Hotch's eyes crinkled as he picked up the shampoo.

'That would make Emily happy.'

A/N 2: Please don't expect updates to this part of their world with any regularity. I need to focus on the prequel but this will be sitting here as an ongoing repository for any random ideas that strike me and refuse to leave. Usually I'm forcing those ideas into something I can use in the AU portion of the story, but obviously this was not something I could do there. I am not planning a fertility or pregnancy angle at this time. I actually don't have any overall arc planned for it, it's just as the title says, life stuff or maybe post eps or something now that they're back at work. Who knows! It was nice though to write them again in full couplehood. Which is why I need to stay away from this story, it's too addictive!