Author's Note: Finally, it goes up! Universe D. Alternate ending of chapter 34 of Falling in Love with a Girl. In this version of their lives Hotch signs the divorce papers before he gets to the bar and he does end up having sex with Emily in the bathroom. I have combined chapters 33 & 34 from Girl because those are all the same night Hotch gets served his papers.

HUGE HONKING WARNING! This is an M Story!

There's sex here and it's not vaguely referred to, it's fairly explicit, sometimes rather explicit. And if that's going to bother you, or make you uncomfortable, please DON'T read this story. It might not be for you.

Thanks to my regular beta Arc :) AND my special guest beta Kavi. I needed some extra assistance from someone who had written M sex scenes before to make sure those bits worked. Kavi stepped up like a trooper :)

If you're just discovering this story, first go read chapters 1-32 of "Falling in Love with a Girl." This story picks up events immediately after Chapter 32 in that story. It's also a post ep for Birthright.


Episode – Birthright

As I Was Going to St. Ives

"What is it?"

Hotch took a breath and with a pained expression turned to answer Emily.

"Haley's filing for divorce. I've been served."

Emily stood stunned for a moment as Hotch walked off. Then she turned to Dave, who looked as upset as she felt. She gave him a questioning look and he nodded his approval so Emily hurried out the glass doors.

She caught up with Hotch at the elevator.

"Hotch wait."

Mortified that that had just happened at the office . . . in front of EVERYONE(!) . . . Hotch didn't even look over as he snapped back at Emily.

"What do you want Prentiss?!"

Christ! Two minutes! He just wanted TWO minutes to himself! Was that so much to ask?!

Emily stopped short . . . crap, maybe she should have waited.

"I um," she stammered, "just wanted to make sure that you were okay. But uh . . ."

And she trailed off, not quite sure how to finish that sentence. She was going to say, 'but uh, I'll talk to you later.' But she figured he probably didn't want to discuss it later either.

Though in the alternative she could have said, 'but uh, it's obvious you're in a bad mood,' but that would have sounded incredibly bitchy. Of COURSE he was in a bad mood! He just got served with divorce papers, in front of his entire team! Anybody would be would have been embarrassed, but especially somebody as private as he was.

All she wanted was for him to know that he could talk to her if he wanted . . . she just wasn't quite sure how to express it.

After blowing out an exasperated huff of hot air, Hotch turned to face Emily. He was ready to tell her to just go back to the office and he'd see her in the morning.

But then he stopped, and really looked at her. Though he'd snapped at her, she didn't look hurt or angry. She just looked . . . worried.

And he started to feel like an asshole.

She was just worried about him, and he was being a jerk because he was upset. But she didn't deserve to have his anger at Haley taken out on her. His gaze dropped as he closed his eyes.

Why did he keep making such a mess of things? She'd been so good to him the last few weeks. Helping him get through the holidays.

There was no excuse for his behavior.

When he looked back up, he swallowed hard before continuing in a softer tone.

"Prentiss, thank you for your concern, but I'm okay."

It was a lie but he figured she was too polite to call him on it.

Knowing that Hotch was trying, Emily gave him a sad smile. She knew that he was hurting and after what had just happened, the poor guy deserved to retain a bit of dignity.

"Okay," her voice was soft, "I just wanted to make sure. And," she cleared her throat, "to let you know if you, uh, need anything that you know that we're here," catching his gaze she gave him a pointed look, "I'm here."

Though she doubted that he'd accept the offer, she wanted to say it anyway. The last thing somebody needed in a situation like this was to think that they were all alone.

And that was one thing that Hotch was not.

Hotch's teeth sunk into his lip as his expression softened slightly.

It was kind of amazing. She just kept trying with him even when he was throwing off every signal in the world that he only wanted to be left alone. Generally the rest of the team gave him a wide berth then, but she never had. She'd always said her peace before walking away.

Or sometimes . . . he thought back to the fall . . . not walking away.

When Garcia had been shot, he'd gone off to get some time by himself, but she'd stumbled across him a few minutes later. And she came right over and sat down. And it had only taken a second for him to be glad that she had, and then two minutes later she'd put her head on his shoulder and he'd been thanking God for sending her to him.

Suddenly Hotch felt a pang of guilt.

He should be nicer to her. Not that he was mean, ordinarily they got along very well, but still . . . he should be nicer. That should be his default position. Because she deserved at least the same level of kindness back, that she consistently showed to him. He shouldn't let his personal situation make him think it was okay to bark at her.

It wasn't.

And only an asshole would think that it was. She'd done nothing to deserve it. Hotch dropped his eyes to the ground then and took a small breath. And when he looked back up, he made sure to give her a little smile.

"Thank you Prentiss. I'll keep that in mind."

Relieved that it seemed she'd broken through that wall of his . . . these days it took less swings of the sledge hammer to do it . . . Emily's eyes crinkled slightly as she nodded back.

"Good."

They stared at each other for a moment and then the elevator dinged and the doors opened.

The moment was broken.

And Emily watched Hotch turn to step onto the car, and she was wondering if what she was thinking was a good idea. Oh, what the hell.

It couldn't hurt.

So just as the doors were about to close, she put her hand over the sensor and they bounced back.

"Hotch, I know that you're having a bad night and you probably want to be alone, but why don't you come out with us anyway?" She gave him a sympathetic smile. "It would be good to have a distraction, you know, get your mind off things."

Hotch slowly shook his head as he tucked the divorce packet more securely under his arm.

"I don't think I'd be very good company Prentiss."

Emily quirked her lip up.

"Well no offense Hotch," she responded gently, "but you aren't exactly the life of the party on your best day."

At that, his eyes crinkled faintly.

"Well be that as it may Agent Prentiss, all the same I think I'm going to take a pass."

"Okay," Emily nodded as she pulled her hand back, "I understand. But if you change your mind we'll be at O'Leary's." Then she stepped back and watched the doors slam shut.

For a moment Emily stared at her reflection in the shiny metal. Then she shook her head and went back to collect the others.

/*/*/*/*/*/*/

Just in case Hotch changed his mind and decided to come out and meet them, Emily had been keeping one eye on the door since the team had arrived at the bar.

She'd been doing that for the past hour.

Unfortunately it was getting pretty crowded in there, and she was afraid that if he did come . . . and he couldn't locate them right away . . . that he'd turn right around and back walk out the door. Because getting Hotch out for a beer was like coaxing a turtle out of its shell.

If you scared him off then there'd be six more weeks of winter.

Wait . . . Emily furrowed her brow . . . what? No, that wasn't right. That was groundhogs. So what the hell was the turtle saying? She cocked her head.

Was there a turtle saying? It seemed like there was one for every other animal so if there wasn't, the turtle was kind of getting short changed. Her lips pursed then in confusion.

How the hell did she get off on this tangent?

Then she shook her head . . . didn't matter. The point was, that if Hotch came out she wanted to make sure that she caught him. But in an effort to distract herself from 'Hotch Watch 08' (the worrying was kind of stressing her out) she decided to turn half an ear back to the speakers . . . Nickelback was singing about Someday . . . and half an ear into the Warner Brothers versus Hanna-Barbera debate raging between Reid and Garcia at the other end of the table.

Apparently Huckleberry Hound was a classic Gothic figure while Foghorn Leghorn perpetuated the worst of southern stereotypes.

But unfortunately neither the music . . . nor the arguments about racial equality in animated caricatures . . . could really capture her full attention. So her mind began to wander back towards Hotch's situation.

Even though she knew that it really wasn't any of her business at all, the whole situation still seriously irked her.

How could his wife just TAKE his son away from him? Didn't she realize that his work alone was sufficient punishment for any transgressions, real or imagined, that he could have committed over the past five lifetimes?! And Emily wanted to hate Haley for doing that to him . . . hell if Hotch wanted it, she'd hate her just out of loyalty!

But . . . her teeth dug into her lip . . . she was pretty sure that he didn't want that.

What he wanted was to work things out. And even if he didn't know about it, Emily was pretty sure that he wouldn't approve of her shooting metaphorical daggers at his wife.

Also though, Emily had met the woman . . . she was nice. And that night at the bar, they had seemed happy.

That was barely a year ago.

And as much as it pained her to admit it, Emily knew that she wasn't in a position to judge Haley. But she had to wonder what could have happened to change all that.

It must have been something major to walk away from a man like Aaron Hotchner.

Though Emily knew that he was grumpy and stubborn . . . and opinionated, and at times a completely humorless pain in the ass, but that was just surface stuff. He was also kind and sensitive, and he had a really good heart.

He was a good man.

And Emily wasn't sure if Haley understood just how hard it was to FIND a good man. With a huff to herself, Emily took a swig of her beer.

Hell, she'd been looking for one the past twenty plus years, and she still hadn't found one worth keeping more than six months. And this crazy chick is tossing them out like Kleenex!

Realizing that she was going off on another tangent, Emily gave an internal eye roll.

Enough Prentiss! Mind your business.

And with that she shifted her attention back to the entryway. Movement had caught her eyes . . . the door was starting to open . . . and then a second later she saw Hotch step into the bar.

Oh good . . . her eyes crinkled as she hurriedly stood up and began waving like an idiot . . . he came!

*/*/*/*

Hotch paused just inside the door of the bar.

Though he'd gotten this far, suddenly he wasn't so sure that meeting the team was a good idea.

After he'd left the office, he'd gone for a drive to the Wal-Mart down the street. He'd wanted to be able to have some privacy for his upcoming battle royale with his wife. So then for the next half hour he'd paced back and forth by his jeep. Spending half of that time yelling into his cell phone at Haley, and then the other half of it listening to her yell back at him.

He just couldn't get beyond the fact that she'd had him served at the office.

Was she trying to humiliate him?!

And when he'd asked her that question flat out, she'd come back with a "well, where the hell else was I supposed to find you, Aaron!? You still don't have an apartment and process servers don't deliver to the hotel concierge!"

He'd gotten so pissed off at that.

Though he didn't want the damn divorce, if he'd known that she filing, then he sure as hell would have gone and picked up the damn papers! But she hadn't even told him that they were coming!

She'd just AMBUSHED him!

So they went back and forth, slicing and cutting at each other . . . and then Haley suddenly lost all her steam. She said she didn't want to fight about it anymore. She didn't want to fight about anything anymore.

And then she'd hung up.

Hotch knew then that his marriage, his family . . . his life, it really was slipping away from him.

The possibility of reconciliation suddenly seemed very dim.

Hotch had listened to the buzzing in his ear, and that was the point when he'd known . . . when he finally accepted . . . that it was over. His marriage, his family . . . his life, it had all slipped away. And they'd slipped away a long time ago.

It was his hope that was the last thing to die.

He'd carefully slipped his phone back into his pocket before he opened the car door and pulled a pen down from the visor. Then he picked up the papers from the passenger seat, and all alone . . . in spot number 136 of the Wal-Mart parking lot . . . he leaned on the hood of his jeep, signed his name . . . and dissolved his marriage.

And after that realization . . . one he'd been fighting for months . . . all he'd wanted was a damn drink. Except he was actually staying in a hotel. And stopping at the liquor store to buy a six pack to take back and drink alone in a hotel room, just seemed pathetic.

Incredibly so.

But then he remembered Emily's offer to meet them later. Though he really didn't feel like being sociable, he knew that at least drinking in a group was better than being a complete loser, and drinking alone.

Plus he knew that if he went to the hotel he'd just wallow.

The bar would be a distraction, but now that he'd arrived, he was having second thoughts. Maybe he should just go back to the office and try to work. That's how he'd spent the majority of the separation.

Elbow deep in case files.

And he was about to turn and go when he spotted Emily waving at him.

Okay . . . he sucked in a breath . . . well, now he had to go in for at least a few minutes. It would be rude to walk out now.

Also, he was pretty sure that she'd run after him.

So he slowly made his way around the throngs gathered for happy hour and bar trivia, to arrive at the team's crowded table in the corner of the bar.

Given the number of empty glasses and bottles, he figured that they were just finishing their second round. And they did all seem (genuinely) pleased to see him, so he started thinking that maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to get out for one night.

It was something to do.

Morgan snatched another chair from the group next to them, and Hotch pulled it up beside Emily at the very end of their cobbled together rectangle of smaller tables. Hotch slipped off his suit jacket, taking a second to fold it over the chair back before he sat down.

Though she tried not to be obvious, Emily was eying Hotch with concern.

She was worried about him, but she was pleased to see that at least he'd realized it would be good for him to be around other people. He'd looked so hurt earlier when those damn papers had arrived, that she hated the idea of him being off by himself. And she so badly wanted to give him a hug now . . . and she could get away with it, she'd slipped in a few hugs with him over the holidays . . . but she knew how embarrassed he would be if she did that in front of the team.

And he'd had enough embarrassment for one day.

So instead of offering him the comfort that would make her feel better, she tipped her head towards him as she murmured softly.

"It's nice to see you."

In response to Emily's comment, Hotch's gaze fell as he awkwardly cleared his throat.

"Well, I figured one beer wouldn't hurt."

The words were barely out of his mouth, when the waitress suddenly placed a Guinness down on the table in front of him. Hotch raised a perplexed eyebrow as he looked down at the coffee colored liquid.

"Whose beer is this?" He asked in confusion.

After she picked up her own pint, Emily used it to gesture to his.

"Yours," she answered, "the waitress was walking by just when you came in, so I ordered it for you."

She hoped he only wanted a beer. What was the preferred drink in situation like this? Most likely hard liquor. But it was only Thursday, and he had to work tomorrow, so hard alcohol probably wasn't a good idea anyway.

Though as she eyed the expression on his face . . . regardless of the 'etiquette' of the situation . . . he seemed pleased with her pick.

Hotch's eyes crinkled as he picked up the beer.

"Thanks Prentiss."

Sometimes she really was very thoughtful. And God knew that he'd been craving a Guinness for the past hour.

Emily's lip quirked up.

"No problem."

And then she traced her fingers in the condensation of her glass while watching the man chug a third of his beer in five seconds flat.

When he put it back down, Hotch gave her a grateful nod . . . she bumped his shoulder in acknowledgment.

But Emily knew that he wasn't in the mood to talk, so she didn't even try to make social chitchat. Dave was sitting on Hotch's other side and fortunately he also seemed satisfied to leave him alone.

They just sat and listened to the others.

Reid and Garcia were still debating cartoons, but now JJ and Morgan had gotten into the mix. The new topic was Jetsons versus Flintstones, which was really the eternal 'caveman versus astronaut' debate, and everybody knew that astronauts won. Brain always beat brawn.

But that didn't stop Garcia from making her impassioned pitch for Fred Flintstone.

As they sat there . . . listening to this ridiculous, though amusing, conversation . . . out of the corner of her eye, Emily noticed that Hotch would occasionally turn up his lip at one of their more outrageous remarks. But it was clear to her that he was depressed, and she just wished that there was something that she could think to do to cheer him up.

But she didn't suppose that this was really a situation where you could cheer someone up.

You might be able to keep them busy, but the harsh reality of the situation was not going to change just because you broke out some balloon animals and started acting out a puppet show.

She rolled her eyes.

Where the hell were these bizarre non sequiturs coming from?! Then she looked down at the table. Oh that's right . . . the two glasses of Sam on an empty stomach. Her brow furrowed in contemplation as she considered the consequences of continuing to drink on an empty stomach.

Hmm, maybe she should eat something.

She turned to Hotch with a little frown.

"Are you hungry? Because I think I need to eat something soon or I'm going to get a headache."

Hotch's brow knitted together as he looked down at his empty glass.

He drained it in less than ten minutes.

If he kept up this pace, he'd be on the floor within an hour. So with a nod, he looked back up at Emily.

"Yeah I should probably eat too."

The last 'meal' he'd had was a granola bar. That was about nine hours ago.

Emily leaned forward to ask the table about food. The group decided to add two plates of nachos and some chicken fingers to their next round. And taking point for the table, JJ put her arm up to flag down the waitress.

Just after she put in their order, the pretty blonde started squealing and bouncing in her seat.

"Oh yay, The Fray! I LOVE this song!"

When JJ had a couple of drinks in her she was almost as flirty as Garcia. And she really wanted to dance right then . . . and unfortunately Will was a few hundred miles away . . . so she fluttered her eyelashes across the table at Morgan.

He was always an easy sell.

And of course . . . as expected . . . he grinned and put out his hand.

"Come on little girl, let's go."

Garcia's eyes lit up when she realized that a new activity that had just been put on the agenda.

"Hey," she yelled out, "I want to dance too!"

With a swivel of her head she realized that her options were limited to mom, dad, big sis and baby bro.

No contest.

"Come on Bam Bam," she shot Reid a look, "let's boogey."

Reid tried to protest, but Garcia wasn't having any of it. She grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, pulling him out of his chair as she bellowed.

"I SAID, let's boogey!"

Hotch's head immediately dropped to his chest. He was making a concerted effort to hide his smile. Whereas Emily and Rossi made no such effort. They laughed openly at Reid's clear panic as Garcia dragged him away.

After the others left, there was a slightly awkward silence. And then Emily cleared her throat and scraped back her chair.

"I'm going to run to the bathroom."

She quickly stood up and slipped back into the crowd. She started to go one way, but then turned, deciding to head over to the restrooms up by the bar itself instead. They were off a narrow halloway . . . and they were farther away than where she was sitting . . . but they were generally less crowded than the other bathrooms down back.

But really . . . she tried to push away her faint bit of embarrassment . . . it didn't matter. She just wanted to get away from the table.

As he watched Emily disappear into the far passage, Hotch was suddenly startled by Rossi's gravely voice.

"You should have asked her to dance."

Hotch turned to his left and gave Dave a blank stare.

"What?"

With a faint eye roll, Dave took a sip of his beer and then put it back on the table.

"Emily. You should have asked her if she wanted to dance. She was the only one left at the table, and she was embarrassed."

At Dave's accusation, Hotch looked over incredulously.

"Then why didn't YOU ask her to dance?!"

Rossi bit back a dramatic sigh as he began to peel the label off his bottle of beer.

"I didn't ask her to dance because I wasn't the one that she's been keeping an eye on the door for for the last hour. And I'm not the reason we had to come to this bar even though Morgan and Garcia wanted to go somewhere else."

As Hotch wrinkled his brow in confusion, Rossi bit his lip.

God, how could someone so smart be so dumb.

Dave put down his bottle, and leaned forward to pat Hotch's arm.

"She's worried about you Aaron . . ." he started slowly, "we all are. And I know that you're having a shitty time right now, and I've been there and I know that it's hard to see beyond that. But . . ." he bit his lip, "Emily's going out of her way to try and help you. She insisted that we come here because this is where she told you that we'd be. And she watched the door so she could catch you in case you walked in and then decided to cut and run."

Hotch felt a twinge of guilt, knowing that's exactly what he'd been planning on doing.

Seeing that his words were making an impression on his old friend, Dave looked down and ran his finger around the rim of his bottle.

"All I'm saying is just cut her some slack Aaron . . . she's a good kid."

Though Dave wasn't sure what had made Emily decide to make Hotch's mental health a pet project, he was grateful that she'd taken the interest. Because one thing that Hotch was short on, was emotional support. He was too private, too guarded, and he didn't make friends easily. He'd been like that even when he was younger too. And it wasn't the job.

It was just something in him.

But he already trusted Emily with his life. So maybe . . . given enough time . . . he could start trusting her with some other things as well. Because Dave knew, as much as Hotch wanted to work things out with Haley, most likely his marriage was already beyond repair. And when that reality finally hit him, it wasn't going to be pretty.

It would nice if there was somebody around to help pick up the pieces.

Of course Dave would do what he could, but it wasn't the same as having a woman looking after him.

Especially a woman like Emily Prentiss.

Hotch stared at Dave for a moment before his gaze fell down to the coaster in front of him.

He didn't realize that she'd actually changed their plans for him. Or that she'd been watching the door to make sure she caught him. He had decided earlier to be more cognizant of how he treated her, and here it was two hours later and he'd already fumbled the ball. In his defense though, it would not have occurred to him that she'd go out of her way like that for him. Though why not, he didn't know. She was always doing things for the others.

Emily had a kind heart, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that she'd make an effort for him as well.

Which meant that he should make one for her too.

With this new revelation, he snapped his head back up and began scanning the crowd, trying to see if she was on her way back to the table yet. When he squinted he could see that she was just coming into view in the little hall.

Then she stopped.

He frowned . . . why was she stopped? And why did she have that look on her face?

Hotch's gaze shifted over to follow where she'd turned her head . . . and he saw him just as he grabbed her.

FUCK!

He leapt up, ignoring Rossi's, "what's wrong?" as he started pushing his way through the crowd.

Momentarily concerned at Hotch's sudden departure, Rossi watched his friend rush off. But then . . . spotting Emily's profile . . . Dave relaxed, figuring that Hotch had seen her as well and was going to talk to her after all. So Dave nodded to himself as he went back to his drink.

That was a good sign.

Hotch broke through the crowd congregating around the bar and hurried into the relative quiet . . . and privacy . . . of the side hallway.

Emily was grimacing in pain as she rubbed her arm.

For a second he stared at her, his fingers curling into tight fists. Seeing her hurt had tapped into a fury that he hadn't had to struggle against in a while. Then he took a step closer and one of his arms came up.

His fingers unclenched so that he could brush the tips over her hand. Then she turned it over so that he could see . . . finger marks. His gaze traveled along her skin.

And scratches.

She was bleeding.

A wave of fury swept through him as he sucked in a breath . . . motherfucker!

Jaw twisting, and teeth grinding, Hotch's eyes snapped back up to Emily's face.

"Are you all right?" He asked tightly.

She nodded.

"Yeah," then her eyes flicked to the floor as she added pitilessly, "but he's not."

His eyes snapped over to the asshole who had just assaulted her. The asshole that was now doubled over in pain after what Hotch assumed was a shot to the solar plexus by Emily.

He should have known she could take care of it herself. Of course just because she'd already taken care of it, didn't mean that the matter was closed.

Not by a long shot.

He looked back to Emily.

"You want to press charges?"

That would determine his next steps here. How many marks he was planning on leaving on this man.

"No," Emily shook her head as she stepped back and leaned wearily against the wall, "no, I'm done with him."

As Hotch worked his jaw, Emily noticed a look in his eyes that she had never seen before. Her gaze drifted over to the dick who'd decided to cop a feel when she walked out of the bathroom.

You . . . her lip quirked up humorlessly . . . are a dead man.

Hotch reached over and grabbed the man's wrist, bending it back until the guy was down on one knee, gasping in pain. As his face came into view Hotch could see that Emily had taken out his nose as well.

It looked like it was broken.

Good.

And Hotch was thinking that if his temper stayed running as hot as it was now, that might not be the end of the broken bones that evening.

He leaned down.

"What the FUCK did you think you were doing?" He hissed, "you're lucky that she isn't bringing you up on assault charges."

When there was no response to what he said, Hotch kicked the guy's other leg out from under him, knocking him flat to the ground. That resulted in a yelp of pain that Hotch ignored completely. Instead opting to jam his knee into the guy's neck.

"So here's what's going to happen," he continued with murderous calm, "in a moment you will leave this bar, and if you have a brain in your head, you will not come back here again. But before that happens, you will apologize to the lady, and if you don't," he twisted the wrist a little harder, "I snap your wrist or . . ." he ground his knee, "I break your neck. Your choice."

With his teeth gritted in agony, the guy on the ground turned his head so he could see the other man's face. And what he saw scared the shit out of him.

This guy was serious. He really was about to break a bone.

OH FUCK!

He started sniveling immediately.

"Uh, uh, I'm really sorry lady, I didn't mean to uh . . ."

Suddenly his words were replaced with a harsh gasp . . . his wrist had just been cranked another notch.

"NO!" Hotch ground out with a lethal fury, "clearly you DID mean to, or else she wouldn't have been injured! And she wouldn't have had to break your, your . . ."

And he stopped short, thinking about the fact that Emily actually had to BREAK this asshole's nose just to safely traverse ten feet down an empty hallway.

No woman should ever be put in that position.

As that thought slammed into him, Hotch's temper . . . which had been fraying for months . . . finally snapped.

He pulled back the pressure on the perp's neck, knowing full well that the asshole would buck and try to roll away.

Which is exactly what he did.

And that's when Hotch yanked his arm back . . . officially to regain control . . . unofficially to hear that satisfying crack when the bone snapped in two.

The guy yelped like a wounded animal. Then . . . when Hotch let him go . . . he rolled into a fetal position and started whimpering on the dirty floor. And Hotch stood over that pathetic mass feeling absolutely nothing. Nothing but rage.

Not even a shred of remorse.

This fucker had grabbed one of his people, you don't do that and get away with just a bloody nose!

But he had no patience to listen to the crying either . . . it was likely to result in a stomp to the face . . . so Hotch crouched down and growled.

"Now get the fuck out of here."

For a moment the guy seemed frozen in terror. Then he swallowed hard . . . and holding his limp hand against his chest . . . scrambled to his feet, and ran towards the exit.

He slammed into two men as he tried to make his way out.

One of them gave him another shove which knocked him to his knees. But he was back up and running before Hotch had even blinked.

Still, Hotch made sure the door fell shut before he turned to look back at Emily.

She was still holding her forearm stiffly against her body.

"Let me see," he whispered.

And when she slowly extended her arm . . . wincing slightly in the process . . . Hotch gently probed the bones checking for any swelling or misalignment. Then he furrowed his brow.

It seemed okay aside from the bruising and the scratches.

Finally he looked up to her face.

He was concerned at what he was going to see . . . if there would be judgment. He hadn't lost his temper like that in a long time. And the last time it was not in front of anyone whose opinion mattered to him.

And Emily's opinion mattered to him very much.

And at present she was staring at him without any expression at all, which really did not make him feel any better. For a moment he felt a stab of fear that he had lost her respect.

And that was something that he couldn't afford to lose.

But then her lip quirked up, and her mouth curved in a cold smile.

"I could have used you two weeks ago. I broke two fingernails putting a guy's head into a wall."

Oddly enough, nothing about that statement surprised Hotch. He was just relieved that she wasn't angry. Because most women . . . hell most people . . . would have been pretty upset about what he'd just done.

Even more so because he clearly wasn't sorry about it.

But he had learned long ago that Emily Prentiss was NOT, most people. And now he was curious what could have precipitated her shoving a man's face through plasterboard. He tipped his head quizzically.

"What did he do?"

With another faint wince, Emily used her injured arm to reach up and pull down the shoulder of her sweater.

"This."

Hotch's eyes widened in alarm even as his fingers automatically went up to ghost over the bruise.

"Jesus Christ Prentiss! It looks this bad two weeks later!?"

This was ten times worse than the marks she had now. His eyes snapped back over to hers.

"Did you file a report?"

With a disgusted huff, Emily pulled her shirt back onto her shoulder.

"God no, it wasn't worth the effort. Three hours of my personal time filling out paperwork for the type of injury I get two or three times a year on the job anyway? Besides, he was the one that had to go to the emergency room. I just had to pack my shoulder with some ice. It was only a soft tissue injury," she shook her head dismissively, "it was nothing."

Hotch didn't respond. He just looked at her for a second before his eyes traveled back down her arm. He stared at the blood drying on her skin.

"We need to clean your hand."

Emily looked down.

It really wasn't much of anything. The trauma from having her arm yanked had almost passed . . . she could flex it now without wincing . . . but he was right about getting cleaned up.

The cuts weren't serious, but her skin was all sticky from the blood.

Hotch walked to the end of the hall and knocked on the bathroom door. The bathrooms at this end of the bar were unisex single stalls so when nobody answered after a moment, he pulled it open, stepping back so Emily could enter.

Then to her surprise, Hotch followed her into the bathroom. Once there he immediately walked past her to go over and turn on the hot water. Her brow wrinkled slightly.

That was a bit unexpected. But then she realized that he was probably still in 'protective' mode.

After all, he did just break somebody's wrist for her.

Though if questioned she'd say it was an inadvertent injury the perpetrator had obtained while he was being questioned regarding an assault on a law enforcement officer. Though she knew that was crap. Hotch had snapped that guy's wrist in two because he'd left a mark on her arm. Which was very sweet.

In a really fucked up kind of way.

But Emily was . . . in a lot of ways . . . pretty fucked up herself, so she was going with sweet.

Still though, she figured it would probably be best if nobody walked in on the two of them in the bathroom together . . . it wouldn't look good . . . so she turned back to slide the door lock before following him over to the sink.

If it made him feel better to clean up her cuts, then she'd let him.

Emily ran her hand under the hot water, wincing slightly as it stung her wounded flesh.

After she pulled it back, Hotch began gently rubbing a soapy paper towel over the bits of dried blood. Then he ran her hand back under the faucet. Once he was satisfied that her cuts were . . . as suspected . . . only superficial, he turned off the water. He reached up to get another paper towel for her to dry off.

As Hotch stared at Emily's reflection in the mirror, he asked quietly.

"Why did you put his head through a wall?"

Hotch didn't know very many people that had a temper like he did. At least not good people who did. And Emily was a good person, and so it worried him, wondering what could have happened to her.

Because he hoped to God that it was nothing like what had happened to him.

Emily slowly raised her head, catching Hotch's eyes in the mirror. She sensed from his tone . . . and how intently he was watching her . . . that there was more to the question than was apparent on its face.

And after she'd cleared her throat, she haltingly explained what had happened earlier in the month.

"I um, got into an argument with this guy. We'd been playing pool and I won. He said he wasn't going to pay a woman. He actually called me a, well, let's just say it was a four letter word that started with the letter C. So I called him a pathetic piece of shit, and he grabbed me and slammed my shoulder into a concrete pillar. And, well . . . I saw red." Her jaw twitched, "the next thing he saw was dry wall."

It was hardly the worst night of her life, but it wasn't exactly a banner evening either.

For a moment Hotch stared at Emily's face, and then his gaze shifted to the side. He slowly reached up to slide her shirt down from her shoulder again.

His fingertips tenderly traced the green and yellow bruise as he whispered.

"So you got this because you won a pool game?"

Hotch had once received a similar mark for getting a B on his history final. Maybe that's why Haley was leaving him. Maybe he was just too fucked up from everything that had happened when he was a kid. And . . . his eyes stung . . . everything he had seen as an adult. Maybe that's why she's couldn't stay with him any longer. Because there had to be a reason . . . a good reason.

And he just desperately needed to understand what that reason was.

Emily's breath caught.

Though she wasn't quite sure what was happening with them, it suddenly seemed like it was very important. So she turned slowly towards him, her gaze dropping down to the dirty floor.

She was waiting for him to figure out what he wanted to do.

Though some part of her was aware that eventually somebody was going to knock on the door . . . or the others would start looking for them . . . but those were inconsequential concerns right now. And with the lull in their conversation she tuned back into the fact that the music was piped into the bathroom as well.

They were playing Coldplay . . . The Scientist.

And as she listened to the lyrics, it seemed fitting for the moment . . . tell me your secrets and ask me your questions.

Hotch stared at Emily's bruised shoulder for more a minute, perhaps even closer to two, before he finally fixed her shirt and pulled his hand back.

It fisted at his side.

Emily stared down at those clenched fingers and wondered what he was thinking. Then her eyes traveled slowly back up his body, finally resting on his face. She winced in sympathy.

He just looked so unbelievably lonely.

So she reached over and tentatively touched his arm. When he looked down, she gave him a sad smile.

"I know that you don't hug, but you know that I do. So you're getting one whether you like it or not, okay?"

Hotch's lips curved in a sad smile.

"Okay." He whispered back.

Once she had Hotch's consent, Emily stepped closer. There she wrapped her arms around his torso and placed her head on his chest. Then she squeezed him tight.

Hotch ran his hand down Emily's back while he continued to listen to the lyrics about a couple's relationship falling apart. And that's when he started to feel a creeping misery settling over him. He pulled Emily closer. Then he wrapped his arm possessively around her waist.

When she didn't pull away . . . in fact she held him even tighter . . . he closed his eyes, and did what he hadn't allowed himself to do that night in her apartment a few months before.

He let himself pretend that she was somebody else.

Because right now Emily Prentiss was something tangible that he could hang onto while the rest of his life was being ripped away from him.

As Hotch clutched her desperately against his chest, Emily's eyes began to water.

She so badly wanted to have the magic words to make this better. To offer him a little peace . . . but there was nothing to say. She figured the best that she could for him, was simply to hang on. So she tucked her head into the crook of his neck, molding her body tightly against his until there wasn't a sliver of light left between them.

Once she was settled, Emily breathed softly against his throat, smelling his Hotchness, feeling that sense of safety . . . and wondering again why Haley was leaving this man.

Feeling Emily's warm pliable body wrapped around him, with her breath tickling his neck, gave Hotch a physical stirring somewhere that he shouldn't when pressed up against one of his agents. But there were so many things that he was losing.

So many thing that he had already lost.

And now he had another woman offering him comfort and support because . . . his breath hitched . . . his wife didn't want that job anymore. Jesus Christ, how do you DECIDE something like that!?

That somebody that you've loved for half of your life is just no longer worth the effort.

He felt a tear run down his face . . . and then another.

They wouldn't stop.

A few seconds later Emily began to rub small soothing circles on his back. And for the second time in a month, Hotch thanked God for bringing her to him. They weren't really friends . . . by no routine definition would they be considered close . . . but they were something.

And whatever that was . . . he sucked in a shuddering breath . . . it was enough.

Feeling a sob rip through Hotch's chest, a tear slipped down Emily's face.

He was absolutely breaking her heart. And that's when she finally thought of one other thing that she could do to take away his pain.

At least for a little while.

She pressed a soft kiss on his throat . . . and then another, and another.

Slowly she kissed her way along his jaw as she rubbed her lower body against his. They'd already been pressed together, and she could feel him begin to harden almost immediately.

The sensation caused her nipples to do the same.

He might have been her chief, but he was also crying in her arms. So at the moment, their professional status was really the last thing on her mind.

She leaned back so she could see his expression . . . there wasn't one.

He was just staring at her.

Hotch wiped the tears off his face . . . he didn't know what to say. Was she really offering to do this? And was he really considering it?

Their working relationship didn't seem to be a concern for her. And given how gut achingly empty he felt right then, it really didn't feel like much of a concern to him either. And she'd only had two beers so she certainly wasn't drunk.

Emily stood up on her toes, and gently kissed his lips.

"If you want to," she murmured against them, "then it's okay." Then she leaned back slightly to give him a little smile, "and it's okay if you don't."

When he only blinked in response, she took his silence as assent so she skimmed her hands down his chest, running them over the bulge in his pants. She squeezed lightly before she began to undo his belt.

Foreplay seemed a waste of time. He was obviously ready to go. And she'd been ready since she'd felt his heat pressing against her.

This was all about the act . . . she began to stroke him through his boxers . . . nothing more.

As Hotch felt Emily begin to give him a hand job, he blinked.

Apparently she really was offering. And it had been a LONG time since he'd had sex, so it only took a few seconds of her stroking him, to feel himself harden to steel. And that's when he realized that he was actually going to do it.

He was going to have sex with Emily.

Just as she started to slip her fingers inside, he surprised her by suddenly crushing his mouth against hers. Her hand fell away as he picked her up off the tile floor, and placed her on the counter.

Emily immediately wrapped her legs around Hotch's waist, yanking him closer as she angled their bodies. And then she felt him grind against her.

She squeaked.

His erection was rubbing right against her center, driving her insane. Her nails scraped down his back.

She wanted him inside her NOW!

Feeling his libido begin to run out of his control, Hotch slipped his fingers under Emily's sweater and up her sides while simultaneously sliding his tongue along her lower lip.

He was asking for permission to enter.

And when she gave it . . . he plundered. This kiss was nothing like their previous ones. This one was wanton, and passionate, and he had her moaning and gasping for air before he'd even removed a stitch of her clothing.

That's not to say though that one roving hand hadn't already released the hooks on her bra.

He had one breast free from its cup, and was gently kneading it in his hand.

That action resulted in another moan from her.

And after a minute or so of exploring the depths of her mouth . . . while his thumb had moved on to caress her nipple . . . he began to suck hungrily on her tongue.

She tasted like something familiar, and it wasn't just the beer . . . it was something else. And then she ground her lower body against his, and the thought slipped away as he went out of his mind.

His hand fell away from her breast and down to her zipper.

He hadn't had sex in months. He had been having regular sex since he was sixteen, and he hadn't been with a woman in SIX months!

If Emily made that move again she just might KILL him!

Still hungrily . . . and possessively . . . capturing her mouth, he grabbed her by the waist and roughly yanked down her zipper. Then he slipped his fingers under the scrap of cotton.

Feeling that she was already more than ready . . . she was completely wet . . . he lifted her off the counter. Before either of them could blink, he'd yanked down her pants and underwear in one fluid motion. And he was just about to lift her up, when suddenly he froze.

SHIT!

"I don't have a condom!" He exclaimed in horror.

He hadn't carried a condom in his wallet in twenty years. Married men don't need to walk around with condoms. But . . . his jaw twisted . . . he wasn't a married man anymore. He was a recently single man who was about to get laid and just slammed head on into a brick wall!

Emily stared at him in astonishment for a second.

Why was he STOPPING!?

Then she processed the words that he'd said and she pulled him down to run her tongue along the shell of his ear.

"It's okay," she whispered huskily, "I'm on the pill, and I'm clean."

And she was thanking GOD for both of those things! Because there was no way that they were stopping now!

Not when she was this damn worked up!

For a moment Hotch closed his eyes as Emily did that wonderful thing with her mouth. Then he remembered that they could be doing way better things than that if he'd just get it in gear. So he pulled her forward.

"Clean too," he murmured against her throat, and Emily grinned.

Thank you Jesus!

She wrapped her arms around his neck, as she hooked one leg up and over his hip. And then he lifted her slightly, and pulled her forward just a little more, groaning as he finally slid inside of her.

CHRIST, THAT FELT GOOD!

With a sharp gasp, Emily's fell shut. So Hotch stopped, waiting for her to adjust before he made any further moves. After a few seconds he pulled his head back slightly so he could see her expression. Then he ran his index finger down her cheek.

"Are you okay?" He whispered.

Feeling her muscles finally relax, Emily opened her eyes and smiled.

"Yep," she slowly exhaled, "it's just been a little while."

Hotch kissed her gently on the mouth.

"You and me both." He murmured. Then he gave her a dimple and a wink. "I hope I remember where everything goes."

Emily's eyes crinkled.

"I have full faith in you Hotch," she murmured against his lips, "after all, you are the king of everything."

The corner of Hotch's mouth quirked up in amusement, but then he quickly sobered again as his expression softened.

"Are you really sure you're okay Emily?" He asked quietly, "I don't want to hurt you."

He might have really, REALLY wanted to have sex right then, but her well-being was far more important than his libido. And he'd stop immediately if he thought for a second that doing this might cause her any pain.

Tears filled Emily's eyes . . . God he was such a sweetie.

Haley was an idiot.

This time she didn't push the thought aside. Her 'stakes' in the game had been upped since earlier in the evening. Given that she and Hotch were now physically JOINED together, clearly her allegiance had shifted as well. No more middle of the road, 'everybody is entitled to their own feelings' bullshit.

Seriously, screw the bitch.

So to that end . . . that he was probably the sweetest guy that she knew, and his estranged wife was a total schmuck for putting him through hell this last year . . . Emily gave Hotch a watery smile as she shook her head.

"You won't hurt me, I promise. I'm good."

With his teeth sinking into his lip, Hotch looked at Emily for a second before he leaned down. And with a soft kiss he picked her up completely. And then he moved them over and her back against the wall. They'd have better leverage than the counter.

Plus . . . he hitched her up a little higher . . . it was cleaner.

When her leg tightened around his waist, he could feel her boot digging into his back. And with that . . . he finally began to move.

Thrusting in slow easy circles, up . . . he felt Emily's even thrusts as she pushed back . . . and around, making it go slow.

Making it last.

Because he didn't know the next time that he'd be having sex, and . . . his breath started to quicken . . . he was most definitely going to make this one count.

After a few minutes he felt Emily's fingers dig into his back, and then her walls clamped down on him . . . it was exquisite . . . as the first orgasm rocked through her.

When she began to cry out, he quickly covered her mouth with his, and she ended up biting down on his lip. And tasting the drop of blood on his tongue, he felt a swell of male pride.

Maybe he'd hadn't done this in a while, but at least he knew . . . he could still do it right. Though some part of him really couldn't believe that he was screwing Emily Prentiss against a bathroom wall!

But that was . . . he bit back a groan . . . most DEFINITELY what was happening!

Feeling her body slam into the plasterboard for the umpteenth time, Emily knew she was going to be covered in bruises tomorrow, but that was A frigging okay! It was TOTALLY worth it! Because . . . her eyes rolled back in her head . . . Hotch was really, REALLY good at this! She felt her second orgasm rip through her and she muffled her cries against his throat.

Yeah, he was SO good at this!

So good in fact that it was a damn genuine shame that it was a onetime deal. But this was definitely a no strings engagement and they both knew it. Under any other circumstances . . . with ANY other man . . . she'd worry that things would be incredibly awkward between them tomorrow. But . . . her nails scraped along his back, tearing at his shirt . . . these were special circumstances. And they had a special relationship . . . so she knew that it would be all right.

As she felt Hotch finally begin to come, he reached down and stroked her clit making sure she rode the wave along with him.

Three times. The man made her come three times. She buried her face in his neck . . . amazing. And then she felt his body shudder . . . and then the warmth began to spill into her.

While her body was still humming, he moved a few more times . . . they might have been involuntary . . . but then finally he stopped. It took her a second longer before she loosened the nails she had pressing into his shoulder blade.

Both of them were gasping even as he leaned down to give her another kiss. This one was soft and sweet.

His hands encircled her waist.

Then he dropped his head to her shoulder and held her to his body close to his until they'd both caught their breath.

It took at least a minute.

And in the silence that followed, he leaned back and looked down at her nervously.

"It's not going to be strange now, right?" His fingertips pressed into her right hip, "I mean, we're still good?"

Hotch really hoped she wasn't having any second thoughts. He'd hate it if their working relationship became strained.

Emily's eyes crinkled as she reached up with both hands to try to wipe the worst of her lipstick off his face.

"We're still good," she brushed her thumb along the corner of his lip, "and I promise it's not going to be strange. That was amazing, but I know we can't do it again. And just like Vegas," one of her hands came to rest on his cheek, "what happens in the locked bathroom stall, stays in the locked bathroom stall."

Hotch flashed her a half a dimple as he leaned forward and kissed her again. At the same time he shifted his hips slightly so he slid out of her.

After the kiss broke, she winked and then they each turned slightly to the side to pull themselves back together.

As he zipped up his fly, Hotch sigh in relief . . . he'd definitely picked the right woman to have meaningless sex with.

Well, not meaningless . . . she was right, that was amazing, and he actually did feel better. Not just physically, but emotionally. And to his surprise . . . he didn't feel guilty.

Not a bit.

The divorce papers were signed, his marriage legally dissolved. Emotionally . . . he turned back to help Emily with the clasps on her bra . . . it probably had been for a while. He just hadn't wanted to admit it to himself. And if Haley hadn't pushed it tonight, he might have been hanging on to false hope for months.

Just prolonging the inevitable.

Emily was right though, sex had to be a onetime thing. They worked together, and he could not start sleeping with one of his agents. Not only was it inappropriate . . . well, way more so than what they had just done, but if it got out it would severely damage both of their careers.

His he was less concerned about because Strauss already had him on a choke chain, but he wasn't going to allow her reputation to become sullied.

Though as he looked over at Emily, with her face glowing while she was now trying (somewhat fruitlessly) to fix her wild hair, he realized how much that really . . . as she would say . . . sucked.

Because that was some of the best sex he'd ever had. And he really didn't think he was just being bitter about Haley. That really ranked up there on the best sex EVER list.

Then he had a thought.

Just because they couldn't do it after tonight didn't mean they couldn't do it again tonight. Well, if she wanted to. But he probably needed to tell her about the papers first. The first time they weren't really in a position to have an in-depth conversation . . . not with his tongue down her throat. But she'd known what she was getting into.

After all, it had been her idea to start.

But having a quickie in the bathroom to make him feel better was one thing. Before he broached the subject of doing anything else, she deserved to know the situation as it stood.

So he walked up behind her, his arm sliding around her waist as she pulled her body to his. He rested his chin on her shoulder.

When their eyes caught in the mirror, he stared at her for a moment.

"I signed the papers right after I left the office. I thought you should know."

Her eyes widened in surprise, and then they filled with sadness as she bit her lip.

"I'm sorry."

Still holding her gaze, he nodded slowly.

"Yeah," he whispered, "me too."

Emily knew how badly he'd wanted to fix things. Though in retrospect she should have known what had happened. Because he never would have accepted her offer to have sex, if he was still married.

Hotch didn't cheat.

Not that Emily, or most people . . . including the Commonwealth of Virginia . . . would have considered what they'd done 'cheating.' He was legally separated, and had been for many months. That's why she'd felt no compunctions about making the offer.

But . . . she rubbed her hand down his arm . . . Hotch wasn't most people. His standards of integrity were above reproach. And he wouldn't have done that with her if any part of him still felt like there was a chance to save his marriage.

Appreciating her expression of sympathy, Hotch held Emily close for a moment longer just enjoying the contact. The soft curves that he was being allowed to touch in a way he never had been before.

But after a few minutes, the hand on her hip slid around and under her shirt. His fingers dipped into the waistband of her pants. He gently caressed her stomach.

Though he didn't really feel comfortable coming right out and asking her if she wanted to have sex again, this would make his desires clear.

And it would make them clear without any awkwardness if she didn't feel the same way.

Emily's eyes crinkled slightly as Hotch fingers began to glide across her stomach.

Though they both knew . . . and had agreed . . . that this wasn't going to be a regular occurrence, his thoughts here were clear. And he was right, as far as tonight went, they were already in for a penny.

And he was still so sad. She knew that, she could see it in his eyes, and she would like to make him feel better.

Make him forget for a little while longer.

So she caught his eyes in the mirror as she gave him a soft smile.

She could see he was nervous and was waiting to see what she thought about doing it again. She placed her hand over his, leaning her body back.

"Okay," she murmured, "but not here. They're going to come looking for us eventually and we're going to get caught."

Hotch kissed her neck, "I know we just agreed no more but . . ."

Emily cut him off as she smiled at his reflection.

"But you figure that we don't turn back into pumpkins until midnight."

With a faint blush, Hotch he tipped his head down slightly.

"Something like that."

And seeing that reaction in him, the slight reddening of his cheeks, Emily's breath caught.

The man had just fucked her against a bathroom wall and now he was blushing just talking about doing it again.

That was about the hottest thing she'd ever seen.

She turned around in his arms and leaned up to kiss him. And as she sucked softly on his lower lip she mumbled back.

"Well, if you can promise me three more orgasms like those then the fairy godmother can extend the clock until 6 am."

Hotch smiled against her mouth.

"I think I can arrange that."

He slipped his tongue past her lips, running it along her teeth, distracting her as he slid down her zipper again and then plunged two fingers inside her depths.

Emily gasped against his mouth as Hotch began stroking her again. He was going further back and then she started to pant. She could feel it building . . . her eyes closed . . . and building.

And then he hit the sweet spot.

One of hers anyway, she knew all women were different. But Hotch definitely had a knack when it came to her body. And as his finger stopped to rub that one spot he'd felt her respond to, her toes began to curl.

"OH GOD!"

Emily's head fell and she buried her face against Hotch's neck as he made her come for the FOURTH time in forty-five minutes.

"I owe you two more." He murmured with a kiss to the top of her head.

Though he knew that she was right about getting out of there, he'd wanted her to know that he was thankful to her. For what she was doing.

For helping him.

And he thought that was the best way of saying thanks. He rubbed his hand down her back . . . also he'd just found something she liked.

He made a mental note to hit that spot again.

Wrapping her arms around his waist, she sighed against his neck, "then we really need to get the hell out of here because if you do that again while we're here I'm going to melt into a puddle of goo like the wicked witch."

Hotch chuckled as he squeezed her against his body, "understood."

He knew he really needed to let go of her so they could get out of there. But, she was warm, and she smelled good, and she really was making him feel better. Yes, he knew the sex was a huge part of that . . . but technically he could have had sex with some strange woman that he'd met in the bar. Not that he ever would have, but he could have.

But he knew it wouldn't have been the same.

Emily was somebody he cared about, who cared about him, who had done this with him because she wanted him to feel better. So even though their feelings for one another weren't romantic . . . they were real.

So the act had meant something beyond just the physical.

And he was afraid if he let go of her that he'd lose whatever tenuous connection he'd managed to make. Because this was the first time in months that he didn't feel alone. And he already knew that tomorrow . . . and the next day and the day after that . . . they were all going to be hell. Because he was going to have to figure out how to live his life without any hope of ever having things the way they used to be. He buried his face in Emily's hair.

He just wanted to put off that feeling for as long as possible.

Emily could feel Hotch starting to slip away from her again. But it was too soon for that. They had until morning until reality had to be dealt with.

So she leaned back to give him a small smile.

"I promise I can keep you distracted for the next," her arm came up as she checked her watch, "ten hours." Then her eyes crinkled when she looked back at him.

"Now think of how many other fun things we can do if we're not spending that half a day in a public bathroom." She tapped her finger against her chin. "Balloon animals for instance, perhaps a puppet show." Seeing Hotch's lips begin to twitch she continued, "um, origami or maybe an infomercial marathon."

"Hmm," Hotch smirked, "those do sound like some pretty scintillating activities, and," he looked around, "it would be damn near impossible to get a good puppet show going in here."

With a wise nod, Emily rubbed her hands down his biceps.

"Exactly, the lighting is terrible. So, I suggest that we get the hell out of dodge." She quirked her lip up, "I'll shoot JJ a text that I'm sick and that you're taking me home. And then we can slip out the back exit next to the kitchen so we don't run into anyone. That way . . ." she tucked her head under his chin, "you can keep a firm grasp to assure yourself that I won't disappear."

Hotch froze.

"Was I that obvious?" He asked with a trace of embarrassment.

The one serious drawback to getting personally involved with another profiler was that you couldn't hide a damn thing.

"Hotch," Emily ran her hand down his back, "I know what you've been through. And I promise that I'm not going to make this harder for you by changing my mind when we walk out that door. I won't do that to you." She kissed his throat before leaning up to wrap her arms around his neck again. Then she whispered in his ear.

"I won't leave you."

Her choice of words was deliberate. She knew, even without him telling her, that when Haley walked away he felt like he'd been abandoned. That's how she would have felt. Come on, somebody walks off and takes your kid and they leave you behind.

The pain had to have been excruciating.

And when that happened, he became the poster child for abandonment issues. So even though she couldn't promise him 'til death do us part . . . she could promise ten hours. And then tomorrow . . . if he wanted . . . maybe they could try being friends.

Real friends.

The kind that shared their time, and their thoughts, and not just an occasional intense moment. And then she could promise that she'd be there for him, just in a different way than she was now.

Hotch's eyes began to burn as he wrapped his hands around her waist, holding on tight.

Emily leaned back.

"You come home with me, we'll have sex, we'll sleep, have some more sex, and sleep some more. Then we'll wake up tomorrow at my house, have one last goodbye, and then coffee. And before we leave for work I'll kiss you goodbye at the door, and then we'll go back to what our relationship was this morning, and it won't be strained or awkward, or anything else bad, okay?"

He gave her a watery smile.

"Okay."

With a sad smile, she wiped away the bit of moisture from the corner of Hotch's eye. Then he leaned up to press a kiss against his mouth.

"Come on," she murmured, "let's go home."


A/N 2: I'd just like to add at this point, writing sex scenes is hard! Way harder than you would think because you don't want to make it icky or mechanical or just plain sceevy. Not to mention there's like logistics involved and keeping track of where stuff is . . . oy. It's rough! So again, thanks to Kavi for helping me with a couple of logistical points that definitely helped it read more smoothly than it would have otherwise.

Though there is quite a bit of sex in the first few chapters, this is not a smut story. This is a relationship story with sex in it. And the purpose of the sex was to find a new way to bring them together. Pulling off the hat trick again. Because you have to keep in mind, this is six months before they become aware of their feelings in Horses, and eleven months before they become involved in Girl. But the point being, their relationship in each of these worlds evolved at a different pace because different things happened. So here, sex is used for bonding. And in some ways their relationship will be even further along than what it is presently in Girl, but in other ways, they're still virtual strangers. In the dating sense.

I haven't broken them all out yet but probably the five chapters all take place over this night at her house. And one thing to note as you read, again along the lines of this isn't smut without purpose, there are different 'kinds' of sex in each chapter. And I mean like this one was comfort sex. The next one is something different and there's a progression as the night goes on. And those different acts were necessary to connect emotionally in different ways. And I mention this now, early, just so the sex acts themselves don't kind of overpower that underlying flow of what's really going on between them.

Next: "Dress shirts, Chinese Food & Major Awards"