Living is Easy with Eyes Closed

A/N: I had no plans of writing this. I just did it because I couldn't sleep. Follow-up to Pieces: We the Living, and the High Cost of Living.

It's late when you finally get back to Quantico. You've spent the last two weeks in some small town in the middle of Kansas whose name you can't even remember because you're just so worn out. And you're not the only one – the entire team is tired, frustrated, and just waiting for Hotch to tell them to stay out of the office for the next two days.

You don't live on a normal clock. You don't just check your watch at 5pm, and say "Yup. Time to go home." You don't spend every day from Monday just waiting for the weekend. You know that you might very well get called away on a case, spending (like you just did) two weeks in the middle of nowhere, where the motel doors don't lock properly, the residents are (at the extreme end) closed-minded rednecks, and you can't get a decent cup of coffee at two o'clock in the morning.

You're walking to the elevator, fishing for your car keys when Emily catches up to you. She's as tired as everyone else, you know, but you somehow can't help but be more aware of it. When you're staring into her eyes when you think no-one's looking, you can see the bags, the intricate blood vessels that look like branches of some vast tree. When the two of you are alone, and she yawns, and gives you a tiny half smile and says that the last time she was this tired was after she spent the night at your house the week before last.

It feels like some dream; you had thought that after the third ex-wife, after your return to the job, you would have given up on long term relationships altogether. It's a concession you had been willing to make, and the one time you weren't even looking, she fell into your lap. Bled into your lap is probably the more accurate phrase. The scar is still sensitive, and you can tell from the way she moans that she likes it when your run your tongue along the blemished skin.

'Hey,' she says, giving you a warm smile. Her eyes are still tired, and she has that broken, fragile look in them, which means she couldn't even really be bothered locking it all away properly right now. All you want to do is take her into your arms right there, but you know she'd get a little peeved at that, and Hotch would too, considering he's the one that would have to deal with the fallout.

And then there are the career implications. You know that you could both probably survive without the paycheck, but whether you could survive without the job is another question altogether. Because even though you just spent two weeks in a dead-end town chasing after a serial killer/rapist, there's that sense of satisfaction in knowing that you've done some small part in making the world a better place.

'Can I stay tonight?' she whispers, and though you know it's not about sex, you're suddenly feeling a lot younger. A lot less tired. Because you're human, in the end. And it's been a very tough week. In the end, though, it's about companionship. About knowing that there's someone else with whom she can share her pain.

She seems relieved when you finally answer in the affirmative; as if she had been waiting for you to suddenly decide that no, she can't stay the night, and that this isn't working out and you probably shouldn't see each other anymore. You wonder how many people in her life have thrown her away like that. And you wonder if any of them really knew what they were losing. And then sometimes – sometimes – you get the urge to beat the crap out of whoever decided to hurt her this badly.

You asked her about it once, and for a single second, she let down the barriers and asked if you had a pen, because it's a pretty long list. Just thinking about that makes you want to hold her close and never let go.

You're the first to admit that you're terrible when it comes to commitment. It took you three tries to realize that you're not a man who can give up everything to be with a person; if your wives had been a little less self-important, it probably wouldn't have mattered, but they were as narcissistic as you, which, in retrospect, probably doomed your marriages from the beginning.

This, though. This is different.

***

You drive to your place in silence; she's in her own car, following behind you. You haven't quite reached levels of cohabitation yet, so she'll have to go back to her place eventually. In any case, she has most of the things she'll need for an overnight stay in her ready bag. It's useful like that.

She's a different person when she's not focused entirely on the job. Not different in an "I hardly know you anymore" kind of way, but different in the sense that she laughs a little more; lets a little of herself out. She'll make a nerdy joke that you don't quite understand, but you'll find it sexy as hell when she makes that embarrassed smile that attracted you to her in the first place.

She isn't haughty, or loud, or any of those other annoying traits you used to fall into the trap of. She likes it when you talks about old cases, because even though she's been in the Bureau nearly fifteen years, her stories have nothing on yours. Her more interesting stories come from when she tells you about her time in Rome, or Kuwait, or the Ukraine. Some of these places you can't even pronounce the name, let alone give any treatise on their culture.

Your international experience is limited to a couple of visits to Italy, and some book signings, which didn't really leave much time for sight-seeing. Though you had ten years, and plenty of money, you never quite got the urge to travel.

'You get over it,' she says simply when you tell her this. She's been to so many countries, she was never quite sure where her home was, she tells you as she curls into you, flesh touching flesh. They say home is where the heart is, but then, she was never quite sure where her heart was either.

'Until now,' she whispers.