LAUNDRY DAY

PROMPT: This is Not Happening (X-Files)

White, light, white, dark, dark, dry cleaners...

It was Emily's turn to do the laundry and she was most definitely taking advantage of an extremely rare Sunday afternoon to do it. Who knew the next time they'd have this kind of time? Emily knew when to take a gift as it was offered and she was certainly going to do it now. Even if she'd rather be cuddled on the couch with Hotch than cooped up in the laundry room. Still, between them they'd probably accumulated the equivalent of a two week's worth of laundry for a family of four and there really was only the two of them.

She sighed, shaking her head. Part of her was warmed by the fact that his laundry was mixed so completely in with hers. Another part of her felt annoyed that they'd let this much laundry pile up to begin with, especially since she could be doing much more fun things at the moment. Laundry needed to be done, but she knew neither of them really enjoyed doing it. She chose to make it a two step process. Step one: sort clothing. Step two: empty clothing.

Hotch teased her about being hyper-organized when it came to things as simple as laundry. Emily always replied that she had a system, and she didn't much like it when the system was messed up. That was all. She shook her head affectionately as she emptied the jeans she'd worn when she had the chance on their cases. They were her favourite worn pair, comfortable and completely broken in. They were almost better than the pair of sweatpants she'd swiped from him before they were a couple.

Which made her smile even more. A year ago, she never would have pictured herself where she was today. She never would have thought she'd fall in love with her boss of all people, the same man she'd originally met over a decade earlier. They'd been so cool to each other at first. It hadn't been any sort of hatred, just a cool tolerance of each other. They'd rubbed each other the wrong way once or twice, but even Emily was aware that stress probably had a lot to do with it. She hadn't entered the unit under the most honest circumstances – well, she had, but Strauss had other things in mind – and really, she didn't begrudge him their less than stellar second meeting. How could she when he was currently, contentedly, sitting on her couch with a cup of coffee in one hand, something mindless on the TV and the paper spread across his lap. It had been a rather deliciously domestic picture.

And a picture she could get back to if she'd just stop daydreaming and get her act together. She probably could have had the first load through by now. But she'd been procrastinating. She wanted to take advantage of the domestic time, not have to fill it with chores. But, unfortunately, that didn't seem to be in the cards. They both really needed to do laundry. She sighed as she dug her hand into the suit pants she'd hung up in preparation to take them to the dry cleaners. Her hand closed on something and she pulled it out her breath catching as she realized what it was. She took a deep breath as she flipped it open and let it all out in a gust of air when she identified the diamond ring.

Oh Good Lord.

"Aaron!"

He raced into the laundry room, panic on his face. She hadn't realised she'd sounded that fearful. He took in the scene before him, Emily holding the black box in her hands and smiled. He'd expected her to come out into the living room with it, not stand there as if she wasn't sure whether to hit him or cry. "Emily."

"This isn't.... It can't be... You wouldn't want...." She paused for a moment. "Is this mine?"

"If you want to have it," he replied, stepping closer.

"But we haven't... You haven't... I haven't..."

"Talked about it?" he supplied. Of course they hadn't talked about it. She knew he was worried about marrying again and he knew she wasn't quite sure she was ready, and if they really could make it happen. They'd put off the conversation. Now it was here, right in front of her, and she wasn't sure what to do.

"Yeah," she breathed.

"I know," he replied. "And I know you're scared. I am too, Em, because neither of us are sure this is the best idea. But know it's a decision I made because this is what I want to do."

"You want to marry me?" she squeaked. "Aaron, we don't even live together."

He shrugged. "Technically no, but we might as well be. Between the time we spend at each other's apartments, the time on the road... We don't need the official 'living together' status. I love you, and I want to marry you."

One hand came up to her mouth. She couldn't believe she was actually holding what was intended to be her engagement ring. "Aaron... Are you sure?" Logically, she knew it was a stupid question. Hotch, her Aaron, didn't do anything without being sure. He didn't do things without making sure that he was making the right decision, no matter what the circumstances. The fact that she knew that, that she was well aware that there was nothing he didn't think though, meant he didn't have to say a word.

"Marry me, sweetheart."

This was a dream. It had to be a dream. It needed to be a dream. Because she really, seriously, couldn't be potentially marrying the man she was absolutely completely in love with. That just seemed like all of the puzzle pieces falling into nice, pretty places, and they didn't do that. Not for her. Not since she could remember.

"It's too good to be true," she whispered. "This can't be real."

He chuckled, his hand coming up to cup her cheek. "This is real. Everything here is real. We're real and I can assure you that this diamond is real."

She laughed a little, wiping at the tears in the corners of her eyes. "You promise this isn't a dream?"

He kissed her, holding her close. "None of this is a dream, Emily, that much I can promise you. We both know it's not going to be easy, but this... This is it. It doesn't matter how scared we are, how unreal this seems..."

"Yes."

His eyes widened. "What?"

"Yes!" she exclaimed. "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!"

Tears flowed down her face despite her laughter as she allowed him to remove the ring from her box. Then he went for the traditional, going down on one knee as she let the box and his pants drop to the floor.

"So that you can tell JJ and Garcia I got down on one knee when I asked, Emily Prentiss, will you marry me?"

She sniffled, wiping her eyes with the hand he wasn't holding between his as she grinned from ear to ear. "Yes."