After the Deluge

Emily's head hurts. She's no stranger to head pains; she wasn't exactly the most straight-laced teenager, though most of those pains were from hangovers rather than minor concussions. It's been three hours since the wound was stitched up, but her head is still throbbing. She doesn't have any pain medications beyond a couple of Tylenol, but thanks to the changes in cabin pressure, it still feels as though there's a midget with a sledgehammer inside of her skull. Logically, she probably should have waited a little longer before flying again, but she sure as hell doesn't want to spend any more time in Milwaukee.

She's sitting at the back of the plane, eyes closed tightly. If they think she's asleep, then hopefully, they won't bother her. It's wishful thinking.

The footsteps when they come, are sharp and even. She can tell who it is without even opening her eyes.

'How's the head?' Hotch's calm voice asks her. She blinks her eyes open, ignoring the sharp, blinding pains that accompany the bright lights. She gives a short laugh.

'Sore.' At the look on his face, she attaches the addendum; 'I'm fine, though. Seriously. It's part of the job.'

And "the job," evidently, is what he wants to talk about. But not in the way she expects it.

'Thank-you,' he says.

She wrinkles her brow, an action which is far more painful than it is on any other day. What is he thanking her for? Not only did she quit her job instead of going to him, she almost got herself murdered by a serial killer. Two things she's really not proud of, and he's thanking her for them. She's surprised that he's even letting her back on the team.

'For what?'

'Coming back.'

She gives a pained smile. 'Thank-you for making me come back.' Knowing that Strauss had put her on the team for nefarious purposes had been the last straw for Emily. She had spent the past six months trying to work past the team's suspicions, and it had just so happened to turn out that their suspicions had been one hundred percent correct. She was supposed to be a spy. But the fact that Hotch had asked her to return anyway – that meant he really did trust her. It was something she had been having severe doubts about. 'And I'm sorry for thinking that you didn't trust me.'

In the seat opposite her, Hotch wracks his memory. When had she said that you didn't trust her? The only possible occurrence he could recall was in Georgia, when Reid was kidnapped. He had asked the team to name his worst traits. Her suggestion – that he trusted men more than he trusted women – had intrigued him. He had planned on talking to her about it, but the issue got caught up in the aftermath of Reid's attack.

'As it turns out, you had good reason,' she adds bitterly, and then she pauses. She, too, is thinking about Georgia.

She has a tendency to go over the things she's said in her mind. To maybe reassure herself that they were the right – or wrong – words to have used. And she's been thing about Georgia for a long time. Trust is the most important element in field-work. If you don't trust the person who's got your back, then chances are, you'll end up with a bullet in your skull. If he didn't trust her – if he really didn't trust her – then she knows she would have found out by now.

'It's not just about Strauss,' Emily continued. 'In Georgia – the Henkel thing.'

Hotch gives a half-smile at that. The fact that they're so in tune with each other shows how far they've come in such a short time. There's still a long way to go yet, though.

'I think I may have been…projecting my insecurities a little. I mean – growing up in the Middle East. Working in a male dominated profession. Sometimes I run my mouth off a little without meaning to. And I'm sorry for that.'

He gives a slight smile – so slight that she can't be entirely sure his lips aren't just twitching. He's got his own issues to deal with – he didn't put in for a transfer because he felt like a change of scenery, that's for sure.

As he returns to the front of the plain, Emily gathers that there is something of an understanding between them now.

And that's all she ever really wanted

a/n: Written by request for the folks at TWoP, who wanted to see Emily apologise to Hotch for the comment she made in Revelations.