Author's Note: For this chapter I was planning on putting this opening scene up, along with some of the baby stuff I'd mentioned doing. But then as this came together I realized it really was a 'cheese stands alone' type moment. So I decided to put it up as a single chapter. It's not quite as lengthy as perhaps you were getting used to, it's still a rodent of unusual size :)
And though my A/N at the end is epic :) please make sure to read just the beginning of it.
Like It Was . . . and How It Could Be
Emily's eyes popped open as she heard the distinctive sound of somebody banging on her front door.
The door was metal so the clang was unmistakable.
Hotch had already turned on the lamp, and was halfway out of bed . . . with gun in hand . . . before she'd even sat up. Her eyes took a second to adjust, but she could see from the alarm clock that it was after two.
Who the hell would be pounding on her door at this hour?!
Then suddenly she thought of one person who might do that. Her eyes widened in fear as they snapped up to Hotch's.
She hadn't heard from him since that last awful fight. But he was such an asshole that she wouldn't put it past him to decide to get drunk and show up in the middle of the night just to start screaming at her about the baby again.
About killing it.
Feeling a stab of fear . . . though she didn't yet know if that fear was unfounded . . . her hand automatically went down to cover her belly protectively. That was as she too jumped out of bed and went over to get her own gun off the dresser.
Seeing that Emily was about to follow him out, Hotch turned back. His brow was dark as he shook his head at her.
"No, you wait up here."
If this was her ex-boyfriend at the door, Hotch didn't want her anywhere near an armed confrontation between the two of them.
Emily's jaw began to twitch as she followed him over to the doorway. After shooting him an angry glance, she started checking her weapon.
"I can take care of myself Aaron!" she whispered harshly.
What the hell?! She wasn't some a helpless female! And if this prick was at her door, and he thought he was going to hurt her baby . . . she checked her safety . . . well then, she'd be happy to put a few bullets in his crotch.
That should make her opinion on this matter ABUNDANTLY clear!
Not wanting to pick a fight at this, of all times, Hotch took a deep breath to keep his tone in check. Then he responded as evenly as possible.
"I know that you are more than capable of taking care of yourself Emily," he whispered back, "your capability isn't at issue. The issue is that you're PREGNANT! And that means that you're much more vulnerable to a hit in your center mass than you were before." He gave her a hard look, "and if it is that asshole showing up at your house in the middle of the night, I'm VERY concerned about his intentions. So until we're sure that there's no immediate danger I . . ." he let out his breath as his tone softened, "I would appreciate it, if you would please," he reached over to squeeze her fingers, "just wait up here and let me check it out first."
Christ. He'd almost ordered her to stay in the bedroom. Not out of any sense of chauvinism, but just out of habit of being in charge in situations like this. But thank God he'd caught himself. Because he could see from the look on her face as she checked her pistol, that order probably would have been the death knell for their relationship.
They were off duty, it was her house, and she was most definitely not his "little woman." She could break a man's face about as quickly and efficiently as he could.
Probably more so with the kickboxing.
So he had no reason to leave her upstairs beyond purely selfish motivations. Basically he was worried sick that something could happen to her and the baby, and he wouldn't be quick enough to stop it.
It was his capability that he was concerned about, not hers.
Emily stared at Hotch for a second, considering his words . . . and his tone . . . and then her expression softened.
"Okay," she whispered, "you make a good argument about being cautious. But I'm still only staying up here because you asked nicely." Then she planted a quick kiss on his lips.
"Just be careful."
They were about as far off duty as they could be right now, and if he had tried to order her to do anything then she would have known that the other shoe had finally dropped.
Because if he didn't see her now . . . in a situation like this . . . as an equal partner and not a subordinate agent, then he never would. And Hotch was perhaps the first man that she'd ever truly loved. So if she'd had to find out tonight . . . when things had been going so well . . . that they really had no future at all, that would have been a devastating realization.
They had just passed another test.
One neither of them had known they were taking.
The pounding began again as Hotch hurried towards the stairs. Emily sent up a silent prayer that it wasn't Chris. A prayer that Hotch wasn't about to go have a confrontation with her douchebag ex-boyfriend.
And though Emily knew that Hotch wanted her to stay in her room, she couldn't hear anything from in there. All she knew was that the pounding had stopped again. But she didn't hear any voices.
Raised or otherwise.
So she slowly inching her way out of the bedroom and down the hall. Then stopped at the landing . . . though a few feet back from railing . . . tilting her head as she listened intently.
That's when she started to get worried that maybe something had happened. Maybe it was Chris and maybe somehow he'd gotten the drop on Hotch.
Unlikely but not impossible.
Her worry meter now kicking up another notch, Emily was just about to start down to check things out for herself when Hotch suddenly appeared at the bottom of the staircase.
Christ . . . she put her hand to her chest . . . give a girl a heart attack why don't you?!
Taking the steps two at a time, Hotch jogged back up to Emily. Though he wasn't pleased to see her out of her room, he was still grateful that she'd at least stayed upstairs.
Even if his concern had been for nothing.
He could see the mixture of confusion and rising panic on her face as she asked worriedly, "is it Chris? Do we need to call the police?"
Though she and Hotch were certainly capable of apprehending suspects out in the world, she really did not wish for either of them to become participants in a domestic dispute.
Somebody . . . scratch that . . . Chris . . . could get killed. Not that she was philosophically opposed to that outcome. Not at all. Not since he'd grabbed her arm and screamed at her to kill the baby. At that moment she'd seen what kind of a man he really was.
But a violent incident with him in her home would lead to a hell of a lot of questions. And more importantly . . . a microscope on her personal life. Her life and her life with Hotch.
That was something that they could not have. Not now anyway.
Already shaking his head before she'd finished the question, Hotch stopped in front of her and whispered back, "no, we don't need the police. It's not Chris," he paused, "it's Morgan."
Emily's eyes popped in surprise.
At Hotch's wince, she realized how loudly that had come out so she lowered her voice as she responded incredulously.
"He's here now? At two in the morning?"
It had been four days since that awful scene and neither she nor Hotch had heard a word from Derek. To cover Morgan's sudden absence from work, at the Thursday briefing Hotch had told the others that Derek was taking some vacation time that he was about to lose.
Fortunately nobody else knew what had happened Wednesday night. So given that the rest of them didn't understand the magnitude of the rift now between Emily and Morgan, nobody had looked askance at that announcement except for Rossi. But all Emily had to do was give him a look and he'd patted her hand and smoothly moved on, asking JJ what was on the agenda.
Even if the others hadn't realized at the briefing the true reason for Derek's absence, the last couple days of the week were amazingly even more upsetting than they had been before he left.
In part because Emily got depressed every time she looked over at his empty desk. His absence was her fault. And Reid seemed to sense how down she was so he wasn't even trying to make chit chat anymore.
It was a weird bubble . . . a cone of silence . . . covering their little corner of the bull pen.
And Garcia . . . Jesus Christ Garcia . . . she definitely seemed to have figured out that whatever the reason for Morgan's sudden disappearance, it had to do with Emily. So Emily was now getting Penelope's version of the silent treatment. In that all of her responses to requests for information, or simple hellos and goodbyes, were clipped and professional.
Though her loyalty to Derek was admirable, and Emily loved Garcia dearly as a friend, she really wanted to tell her to stop riding her ass. The woman clearly didn't have a clue about exactly what had gone on between her and Derek, so Garcia wasn't in a place to be making judgments about who the bad guys were here.
In reality there were no bad guys. Just a really unfortunate series of misunderstandings. And the last thing Emily wanted to deal with was another falling out with a member of the team.
Her circle of friends was going to dwindle pretty quickly if this kept up.
But she knew that she couldn't control anybody's feelings . . . or their loyalties.
So on Friday afternoon . . . after receiving another lengthy evil eye from Garcia while they were alone in the break room . . . Emily saw that was another friendship that was starting to slip away from her.
And maybe a heart to heart could have fixed that. But she sure as hell wasn't about to get into any of their business with Garcia. It was their business, not hers. And as close as Derek and Penelope were, Emily knew that there was no WAY he'd ever tell her the abject humiliation he'd suffered Wednesday night. And even if their relationship were public knowledge, certainly neither Emily nor Hotch would ever repeat what had happened to anyone else on the team regardless.
That would be a betrayal of Derek's trust. Actually in his mind, it probably would have been ANOTHER betrayal.
So with the reality of their situation simply not up for discussion, Emily had come to the sad conclusion that her relationship with not one, but now TWO of her closest friends was seriously damaged. Perhaps permanently damaged.
At that point she'd just started looking forward to maternity leave.
Maybe everyone would have forgiven her by the time she returned.
But now here was Morgan pounding at her door in the middle of the night. She'd been dreading their first encounter tomorrow. Given that he'd preempted that by showing up here, apparently he was too.
After taking Emily's hand, Hotch brought her two steps back from the staircase, hoping their voices wouldn't carry as he whispered.
"I think he might have been drinking a little bit but he's not drunk. And he wants to talk to you," grimacing slightly Hotch scrubbed his hand across his forehead, "what do you want to do?"
As much as he cared about Morgan personally, Hotch had almost torn him a new one for showing up in the middle of the night and scaring the hell out of Emily. That wasn't good for her or Baby. But after everything that had happened last week Hotch had caught himself just before he opened his mouth.
No matter how pissed off he was, he just didn't have the heart to give the poor guy any more crap.
Frantically chewing on her lip Emily stared at Hotch for a moment before she answered, "I guess I should go talk to him, right?"
Even if he was here to read her the riot act, better to do it now than tomorrow. And really, how could she turn him away? If he had something he needed to say to her then she needed to let him say it.
No matter how much it hurt.
Hotch gave her a sad smile.
"I think you should sweetheart. And . . ." he rolled his eyes slightly, "though I wish he'd come at a more reasonable hour, it is probably best that you two get to talk before he goes back to work."
She nodded, "right."
That was the key point here . . . just getting it over with now before they had an audience tomorrow.
Hotch gave her a quick kiss and a hug as she passed him her gun. Then he continued down the hall to her bedroom. He placed both of their weapons back on his nightstand before going over to put the television on low.
At this time of night, voices carried. And Hotch really didn't want to purposely eavesdrop. It was hard enough for Derek having their relationship shoved in his face. He should have a few minutes of privacy with Emily to say what he needed to say.
Emily eyed the door Hotch walked through for a moment before she took a breath and headed off to have what she was sure was going to be an excruciating conversation.
When she got to the bottom of the staircase, Emily took note of the fact that she should have grabbed her robe before she came down. Per usual for her sleepwear now she was only wearing a tank top and a pair of Hotch's boxers. And said boxers slid slightly down her hips because even with the baby bump, they were still a little too big for her.
Not exactly suitable attire to greet guests. Certainly not ones you'd recently discovered had romantic feelings for you.
So she grabbed a blanket off the basket by the window seat, pulling it around her shoulders and wrapping it around her body before she walked around the corner.
Morgan was standing by the door, staring at the carpet runner in the hallway.
"Derek," her voice was a whisper.
Morgan slowly dragged his eyes up, looking at her feet, her calves, her thighs, the blanket that covered her upper body, and then finally his perusal stopped at her face. He saw the worry and tension there and suddenly he remembered that she was pregnant. She was pregnant and he'd just pounded on her door, dragging her out of bed at two in the morning.
Her pregnancy was a new state of being for him and he hadn't adjusted to it yet.
Wincing slightly, he took a step forward, "I'm sorry Em, I shouldn't have woken you up in the middle of the night. I forgot you were . . . uh," he gestured towards her midsection, "pregnant."
She shook her head.
"It's okay, we went to bed early."
Seeing Morgan wince again, this time for a different reason, Emily instantly felt guilty for reminding him of the intimacies of her relationship with Hotch.
Even if it was unintentional, it was still cruel to throw those things in his face. But she couldn't bring herself to apologize for that one. That would imply that she'd done something wrong. That she should be ashamed of being with Hotch. And she certainly felt no shame at all about her feelings for the man waiting patiently upstairs for her to return to their bed.
So she moved past the awkwardness of the moment . . . she had plenty of experience doing that lately . . . and walked over to him. Though she made sure to stop a few feet back just in case Derek didn't want her in his space. Then she gave him a little smile.
"The hour doesn't matter. I'm just glad you came over."
Transfixed for a moment by her eyes . . . they were so pretty even without any mascara . . . Derek finally nodded, "uh, well I'm starting back to work tomorrow and I didn't want to leave things the way they were on Wednesday," he tipped his head, "and beyond that, things have been weird between us for months and I don't want that to continue," he sighed, "though I can't promise we'll ever go back to like it was, I just thought that we should air things out so that we can go on from there."
Next to the horror show of last Wednesday, this was about the shittiest conversation he'd ever had to have with anyone that didn't involve a murder confession.
But there was no way around it.
Not unless he was going to put in for an immediate transfer, and that wasn't happening. That would be the coward's way out. And he might have been a blind fool, but he was not a coward. He was a grown man who needed to deal with the new world order.
The one that didn't include him and Emily living happily ever after like he'd planned.
And those plans for the future had been pretty clear in his mind. A wedding, a house, kids, first days of school, Christmas mornings, summer vacations at ridiculous theme parks. All of that still haunted him.
Echoes of a happy family that never was.
So . . . though he had no intention of fleeing from the unit now with his tail between his legs . . . he also knew that it was entirely possible that he might not be able to deal with this new situation long term.
He might not be able to ever get back to a normal relationship with her.
It was going to be doubly hard knowing that she'd moved on with the man who gave him his orders in the field. A man that he'd always admired before . . . and now he simply envied.
The fact was, Morgan knew that he still needed to find a way to get back to trusting his life to that man . . . and this woman . . . when they were on the job. Because out in their fucked up twisted world, they only had each other to depend on. But regaining that trust was going to be a little hard to do when he was still filled with this crushing sense of loss.
They'd found the life that he'd wanted.
But hopefully his sadness and envy would start to fade soon. Because if it didn't, well, maybe he would have to put in for a transfer down the road. That was a measure of last resort though.
Right now he was only on Plan B . . . get his heart back from the woman who had inadvertently stolen it from him.
And as he moved forward on Plan B, he watched as Emily nodded her head slowly before saying, "that was my hope to," and then she put her hand out to him.
"Please, come sit down and we can talk."
As Emily saw Derek staring at her outstretched hand, she suddenly realized how insensitive she was being and pulled it back.
"I'm sorry . . . I . . . I'm sorry," she gave him a sad smile, "I'm just used to things being a certain way," her eyes began to sting as her gaze dropped, "but I guess they won't be that way anymore."
God this sucked.
Swallowing hard, Morgan stared at her for a moment, and seeing the distress on her face he tried to think of something to say.
"No," he swallowed, "no, I'm sorry but they won't be that way anymore."
Seeing the tear roll down her face, he quickly added.
"But I hope eventually maybe we'll . . . um . . . uh . . ."
Though he wanted to say that they could be friends again, he didn't really know that they could be. Honestly he wasn't even sure if that's what he wanted. His feelings for her were too strong, too complicated.
It might simply be too hard to spend time with her.
But he saw no reason to bring that up now. Now was the time to just clean out these wounds so they could begin to heal. Then he'd regroup and see where they were. So to that end, he started again.
"I don't hate you Emily," he paused for a moment before huffing humorlessly, "quite the opposite actually."
The joke . . . very much at his expense . . . was intended to put her at ease. But as her gaze slowly came back up, he saw that she was giving him a worried look. And he could see then that he'd just taken the wrong approach entirely. Instead of putting her at ease, he had made her uncomfortable.
She thought he was making another pitch.
And she'd already made her feelings quite clear. She didn't wish to pursue a relationship with him because she was already in a relationship with the man who had answered her door with his Glock at two in the morning.
Yeah, that was a little awkward. It hadn't occurred to Derek that Hotch would be here.
Again, the new world order hadn't sunk in yet.
But Morgan had at least accepted it as far as understanding that any romantic future with Emily had faded away.
So he quickly shook his head before she got the wrong idea.
"Don't worry, I'm not here to make any . . . uh . . . declarations. I understand that you and Hotch are . . . committed and uh, that is to say, I'm not," he swallowed, "well I don't want to talk about that. I get it. So let's just leave it at that and know that I won't be," he rolled his eyes as he looked away in embarrassment, "pursuing you or anything."
Jesus Christ was there an empty grave maybe he could jump into right now!? He was two minutes into this conversation and it was already excruciating. He just wanted to leave her place and go get smashed, but they were nowhere near done talking yet.
Emily gave him a tight, somewhat awkward smile.
"Okay. I didn't want to be . . . um, rude, so . . . uh good. I'm glad you err, uh . . . understand."
Hearing that last sentence come out of her mouth, Emily was almost amazed to believe that she'd actually graduated from college.
This was almost as painful as Wednesday.
But for just a moment she'd feared that maybe he'd come here to try to win her over. And as much as she didn't want to hurt him again, she couldn't let him think for even an instant that a future between them was possible. Even if her feelings for Morgan weren't simply fraternal . . . she was in love with Hotch. And that was the long and the short of her feelings on the subject of additional suitors.
She didn't want any.
So now that they'd cleared that up, Emily sent up a silent prayer that maybe the rest of this conversation wouldn't be quite so awkward. And then she snorted humorlessly to herself . . . fat chance.
Realizing nothing more was being accomplished by standing in the middle of the hall, Emily turned and walked down to the living room. She was relieved when she heard Derek's boots following her along the hardwood floor.
When they got to the couch they both paused for a moment, looking between the sofa and the end chairs. Choice of seating in her own home had never seemed so important to Emily. But she wanted to wait to see what Derek would do before she decided what she would do.
After he sat down on the right side of the couch, close to the cushion, she walked around the coffee table so she could sit down in the middle. Though she technically chose the seat right next to him, she consciously angled herself slightly to the left so that he wouldn't feel crowded by her presence.
A moment after she sat down Emily pulled her legs up in front of her, wrapping her arms tightly around her calves. She knew it was a classically defensive posture, but that couldn't be helped. It was the way she was feeling at the moment.
It was how you always felt when you screwed up and then were called on the carpet to explain yourself.
The silence stretched out and then finally Emily broke it with a whisper as she stared down at her knees.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry I lied. I'm sorry I didn't tell you before about the baby. I'm sorry that you found out about my relationship with Hotch the way that you did," she paused as her voice got a little hoarse, "and I'm sorry that I hurt you . . . I'm so sorry about that Derek."
There . . . she cleared her throat . . . she had at least gotten out the apology. Maybe the rest wouldn't be so hard.
Morgan rubbed his hand along his pants, grateful that he'd gone out for a couple of shots before he came over. He wasn't drunk, not even close, but he did at least have some bottle courage, and that's why he'd come.
There was a question he wanted an answer to before he went back to work. Before he went back to sitting across from her for nine hours a day. And he didn't know if stone cold sober he'd have the balls to ask what he wanted to ask.
So he took a moment to process her apology. But then he realized there were no answers it. Just apologies. Right now he wasn't looking for apologies, he just wanted the whys that precipitated the need for them.
So he started with the biggest why of all.
"Why did you lie to me about being pregnant?"
He turned to look her in the eye.
"That's what I don't understand. Until these past couple months I'd always thought we were really close, and then you started," feeling the pain begin to well up, he swallowed, "pulling away from me and I couldn't figure out why. And honestly I still don't know why. Hotch told me that you two . . ."
He winced slightly as he suddenly pictured them together. Though the days had passed, he still wasn't even close to being okay about that yet. So he started again.
"Well that you two didn't . . . get together until after you found out you were pregnant," he gave her a hurt look as his voice got hoarse, "so why didn't you come to me first?"
That's what he didn't understand. That's what hurt so much. Why didn't she tell him?
Yeah, he got the boss thing. That Hotch had to know for work. But beyond that it was all a cop out. Because she still could have told him too. She still could have told him FIRST.
If she'd really cared about him . . . if she'd trusted him . . . then she would have come to him. Or at least that's how he saw it in his mind.
Now he needed to see how she saw it in hers.
Emily's eyes fell away for a moment.
This part was going to be hard. This part was going to hurt him. But of course . . . she tightened the blanket around her shoulders . . . she had already hurt him.
Now she was just going to be twisting that knife around a little bit more before she hopefully pulled it out completely.
She looked up at him and took a breath.
"What I'm about to say isn't intended to make you feel worse than you already do. And," she gave him a sad smile, "it most definitely is not intended to cause any further strain between us, but," she bit her lip as she looked over with concern, "I assume that you want the truth?"
As hard as it was, this was probably a conversation long overdue. Maybe if she'd said something to him before, then things wouldn't have taken the turn that they had.
As he started to get a sinking feeling in his stomach, Derek nodded slowly.
"Yes, of course I want the truth."
Christ, what the hell had he done? Because from her words it was clear that he had . . . as he'd first feared when she'd begun to pull away . . . done something that had upset her.
And he hadn't even realized it.
Emily rubbed her hands up and down her bare calves. Finally she willed herself to look over at him . . . but she couldn't make eye contact.
She didn't want to see the additional hurt she'd be putting there. But she was just putting off the inevitable. So finally she started talking. Speaking in soft tones . . . hoping that would somehow make it better.
"I didn't tell you about the baby before, because I was afraid that we'd get into a fight. That you'd make a comment about my decision to go out with Chris initially, and that was something that I . . ." her eyes started to water as she finally summoned up her courage to turn and look at him, "well, I simply couldn't deal with that at the time. I needed to talk to somebody who was just going to be supportive." Her teeth sunk into her lip before she added quietly.
"And not judge me."
Morgan stared back at her for a moment . . . she could see that his eyes were getting red . . . and then he asked quietly.
"I made you feel that way? That I was judging you?"
A tear ran down her face as she nodded back.
"Yes, and I know that you didn't mean to, mostly I think you were just being over protective. But I always feel like I have to justify my decisions to you Morgan," her voice got husky, "and this is my life. And I shouldn't have to justify myself to anyone."
There . . . she'd said it. And dear God she hoped it hadn't sounded as terribly mean in his head, as it had in hers.
Morgan winced at Emily's words before his gazed dropped to his lap.
Pushing aside that sting of rebuke, he started thinking back on all of the conversations they'd had over the past few years. All the times he'd told her he didn't like her boyfriends . . . and all the times she'd bristled at his comments.
The arguments they'd had as a result.
His stomach churned . . . it was jealousy. Pure and simple.
It was after he'd started to realize he had feelings for her that he became more critical of the men that she was seeing. Not that he hadn't made a choice comment here or there in the past . . . she had dated some real winners. But it wasn't until he'd realized that he wanted her for himself that he started to hate all of the other men that came into her life.
That's when he'd started to fear that one of them would steal her away from him. Those stupid fucking personnel rules that he'd followed had prevented him from saying anything to her about his own feelings. But he thought if he could just keep her from finding somebody else that they could still kind of be together.
That he wouldn't lose her.
The irony of that was so bitter now that he didn't know if he should laugh or cry. Because what he'd done then was go out of his way to vocally point out every flaw in every man with whom she'd so much as had coffee. Hell, he hadn't even MET all of them and he still had an opinion that he felt the need to share with her!
But given what she'd just said, now he could see how incredibly inappropriate that was to impose his views on her that way. Who was he to dictate how she should live her life? Like he was doing such a bang up job with his own that he was in any position to be dolling out unsolicited advice? Please.
For Christ's sake he was pushing forty and he still just had one meaningless relationship after another. Of course that was in part because he'd thought maybe Emily was the one.
It turns out she was . . . for Hotch.
And suddenly Derek realized that it was his own fault that he'd lost her. If he hadn't driven her away with his stupid fucking childish behavior then maybe she wouldn't have felt the need to hide the baby from him.
Hell, there was no MAYBE about it! She'd just flat out TOLD him that!
As his heart took another pounding he bit back a moan and stared down at her coffee table for a moment. His eyes focused in on the two sets of credentials sitting there.
One was Emily's . . . and one was Hotch's.
Derek's eyes were watery as he looked back over at her, "I'm sorry Em. I never meant to make you feel that way. It's your life. They're your decisions. You shouldn't have to listen to other people's opinions about your choices. I certainly wouldn't appreciate it if someone did that to me," he swallowed over the lump in his throat as he looked at her sadly, "I just wish you'd said something before. If only I'd realized . . ."
His voice faded away.
It didn't matter now. He hadn't realized. She hadn't told him and he hadn't realized. What was done was done.
Emily started to cry, "I wish I'd said something too. I just . . . I thought . . ." she wiped her hand across her face, "well I don't know what I thought. I guess that it wouldn't make a difference maybe. That it was just the way things were and that if I brought it up then I'd just be causing a real rift in our friendship," with a bitter laugh she wiped her hand across her face again, "well," a sob broke free, "so much for that."
God, she'd really hoped to get through this conversation without a complete breakdown. She used to cry on Morgan's shoulder, back in the old days, but now she didn't really feel comfortable crying in front of anyone but Hotch. And besides, God knows if Morgan would appreciate having to put up with her tears right now.
So for his sake more than her own, she tried desperately to stop crying.
As much as he tried to not let Emily's sobbing affect him, it was impossible for Morgan to turn off his feelings for her. So as she sucked in a ragged breath, he tentatively reached over and put his arm around her shoulders.
It took only a moment for Emily to shift her weight and lean into his side. If he was willing to pretend for a few seconds that this was okay, then she would too.
So she cried on his shoulder for everything that they'd lost. That they'd both been too stupid to see was slipping away from them. It was never just the one thing that ruined a relationship. It was always a series of events. A pattern that you don't see until it's too late.
And now it was too late.
They couldn't go back. That much was clear. Things could never go back to what they were before.
Her knees brushed against his thigh as she breathed in his aftershave and patted his stomach. All the while knowing that this was probably the last time she'd ever be allowed this close to him again. He'd been her protector. Her partner.
Her best friend.
But now . . . all of those titles were lost. Now she didn't know what they were. She just wished that they could go back.
Go back to like it was before.
It was hell for Morgan to touch her . . . to hold her . . . and know that she'd never be his. But it would have been worse to know that it was within his power to offer her some comfort, and to still let her suffer.
No matter what had happened between them, he would never wish this misery on her.
The deterioration of their friendship was equally their burden to share. Put in her position he could see how her resentment would have built. That the damage to their relationship hadn't started with her distance and lies, it had started with his jealousy.
They'd hurt each other equally.
As her tears began to taper off, he heard her sniffle against his chest and then ask in a watery voice, "do you think we can be friends again?"
He kissed the top of her head before whispering, "no . . . no I don't. Not like before," he leaned back slightly to look down at her, "but I don't want to leave the unit Emily."
Her eyes widened in horror.
"I don't want that either!"
When did that become an option?!
His teeth sunk into his lip as he stared at her for a moment.
"Then I guess we'll have to try to figure something out. But," he looked at her sadly, "we can't talk about anything personal. I mean obviously you know . . . romantic stuff is out, but," his eyes dropped down to her stomach as his voice got husky, "I know the baby is a big deal. And I'm happy for you, I am. I know this is something you've wanted for a while. But, could you just give me a little time on that one?"
Even if it wasn't Hotch's baby, his boss' commitment to take care of both of them was just another reminder of the life he would never have with her.
Emily reached up to pat Derek's cheek. Then she gave him a sad smile.
"Of course. I will warn you though that I'll probably be showing soon. In a few weeks I won't be able to hide this anymore. And that's when I'll have to tell the rest of the team. Then . . . well . . ."
She left the rest unsaid. It was clear from the look on his face that he knew as well as she did that her pregnancy was going to be a regular topic of conversation that would probably get shoved into his face by everyone BUT her and Hotch.
"Yeah," he nodded, "I know, but hopefully by then things will be a little better."
That was probably a pipe dream. But at least in a few weeks he'd know if he could stay in the unit with them building a happy family. In a few weeks he'd know for sure if he needed a transfer.
But again, she didn't need to know that now. And speaking of now, now that she'd pulled herself back together he realized that his arm was still around her.
The moment was over. They were back to the new reality where they didn't do these things anymore.
So he kissed the top of her head one last time before he pulled his arm back, sliding his fingers through her hair as he pulled away.
That was probably the last time he'd ever do that.
Feeling him pull back, Emily sat up, wiping her hands across her face. As he stood, she did too.
There was nothing more to say.
So she tightened her blanket around her shoulders and with a sniffle, followed him down the hall to the door. Once he was there, he stopped, turning back to look at her.
His voice was broken.
And feeling her eyes begin to fill again, she nodded back.
"Me too," and then she did something that she hoped would make him feel better. She leaned up on her tiptoes and pressed a light kiss to his lips.
When she leaned back, she gave him a watery smile and reached up to pat his cheek.
"I'll miss you."
Though she knew that she'd be seeing him in six hours, this was really the end of things.
Morgan's fingers came up to touch his lips, before he nodded back.
"Yeah," his voice cracked, "I'll miss you too."
Feeling his emotions then getting the better of him, Derek knew it was time to go.
So he turned away and opened the door, right before he walked out he whispered, "be happy Em." And then he stepped over the threshold, pulling the door shut behind him.
The tears began to run down Emily's face again as she reached up to turn the deadbolt. Then she turned and slowly walked back down the hall and headed up the stairs to her room.
As Emily walked in, Hotch clicked off the television and turned to her. They were both quiet for a moment and then he asked softly, "are you okay sweetheart?"
She looked terrible.
Emily shook her head as she sniffled again, "no."
Biting his lip in sympathy, Hotch opened up his arms. She went over and climbed into his lap. And as he pulled her into his embrace, she whispered against his neck, "I love you."
After everything that had just happened with Derek, she realized that needed to be said. She'd lost one man in her life because of the relationship with the other.
The other should at least know how she felt.
Feeling a burst of joy, Hotch's eyes crinkled as he kissed her temple.
"I love you too sweetheart," he murmured back with a gentle rub to her stomach, "you and Baby."
There . . . he got that one out. And he was pretty sure that she'd be okay with it. That she wouldn't think his affection for her child was inappropriate.
Emily leaned back with a faint, watery, smile . . . she was feeling her sadness dampened at his words.
His commitment to her and her baby was clear.
She'd made the right choice. Hotch would be a good partner and . . . if she let him . . . he would be a good father. Yeah, she was pretty sure that she was going to let him have that role if he wanted it.
She leaned up to kiss him
And as the kiss began to deepen, Hotch lay her down on the bed, sliding his hand between them to push the boxers down her hips. Feeling his fingers begin swirling in a rhythmic pattern, she broke off their kiss with a gasp.
"I thought we had to wait another week."
There was no way that he'd be so cruel as to do this to her, and then still tell her that they couldn't make love for another nine days.
Hotch smiled at the flush in her cheeks and the wrinkle of confusion on her nose.
"I think we've waited long enough."
It wasn't just that she was sad and he wanted to make her feel better. That was part of it. But mostly it was because she said I love you first.
She was the one with all the fears. All the worries that that they couldn't make this work.
Well . . . he went back to kissing her as he rubbed slow circles with his thumb . . . they were making this work just fine. And if making love to her was the best way to show her that . . . he was definitely willing to take one for the team.
As she began to climax for the first time, for that moment Emily forgot completely about Morgan, about her sadness and grief over the end of that relationship. Because in that moment with Hotch, she suddenly saw spinning out before her all of the possibilities in this relationship.
A truly happy life.
Something that she never thought she would have. Something that she never thought she was entitled to. But as Hotch began to pull off her tank top, she could see it with perfect clarity.
And a few minutes later . . . when he slipped inside of her . . . she cried.
They were the first happy tears of the night. And when he began to move, she pictured their future again.
This time in vibrant Technicolor.
Her child being raised as Aaron's. His son spending weekends with them. Building a family with first steps and first days of school, Christmas mornings, family dinners . . . family vacations.
All of the wonderful, normal things that she'd always wanted.
She moaned as he shifted, hitting just the right spot . . . those things could be hers now. A life . . . her breath began to quicken . . . a life always with him.
For awhile she had no thoughts . . . just bliss. A wave building slowly, driven by all of the wonderful things Aaron was doing to her body.
This was making love. Apparently before all she'd ever had was sex. Sex was good . . . but this . . . her breath caught as they hit the wall together . . . this was SOOO much better!
And when it was done, and he was holding her in his arms, murmuring, "I love you so much," in her ear . . . the sadness from her conversation with Morgan tried to come back to her.
But she pushed it away.
This was her moment . . . her hand covered Hotch's where it was resting on her stomach . . . this was her man. And she was going to enjoy this moment . . . this life . . . with him.
She rolled over in his arms, pressing her lips to his before she murmured.
"You make me so happy."
Hotch's eyes crinkled as he kissed her back.
"I love you too."
A/N 2: Is it just me, is it just my wishful thinking that I could have some sense of completion, or does this not feel like it could be a concluding chapter? Like the story's wrapped all of its dangling plot points? Like the Epiphanies chapter of Girl when it just "seemed" over. I'd LOVE to wrap this right here and then just go forward with a companion story continuing on through her pregnancy and the birth. What do you think? Would anybody burn me in effigy if I did that? That way, we'd all have some resolution here now and then I could start up the next story once I wrapped something else. Then I could devote the proper time to it.
You guys think about it, let me know what you want to do. Seriously, I'll go with majority rules here. Because I don't to upset like my entire viewing audience by simply shutting down a story at a point where you guys weren't expecting it. Before you vote, try to see my point though, at his moment, all of our threads are snipped off. They've gotten together, fallen in love, said the words, actually had sex and though there's still living left to do, they are all set up for the happily ever after. Plus, the Morgan subplot has also been addressed, they've reached resolution as well. As much as they can at this point. So we could stop here and then pick up a little later. Remember, we'll be picking up later anyway. But this way it would be on purpose as opposed to just me not having time to write more for another month. You'd have some closure.
I do promise though I really would write the other half of her pregnancy. I already have chapters done but they're related to other plot developments that we haven't really reached yet. If we stop now then maybe I could slowly finish that story up in my "free time" and then when I start posting again it will already have the ending written and Baby will be born much faster. That's my new rule, I can't start any new stories until I basically have the beginning to the end all sketched out. That way we don't get to this point with 6 or 7 stories hanging. See, if it's an ongoing story then I feel obligated to post as soon as a chapter's done. I can never get ahead because it's more pressure to put something up. If I'm just working on it at my leisure sometimes it comes more quickly.
But you let me know! Then you can yell at each other if you're not happy with the final vote :)
Okay, so back to the chapter as is. I SOOO was not planning on closing with them making love. I was planning just closing on the Morgan scene and her going up to her room (not so much closure there). But as I was rereading it, the whole thing was just really sad. And I've been writing that horror story and there's lots of sadness in there so it was a little depressing to end this one on a weepy note. I have Girl for fluffier bits, but I didn't want to work on fluff either. With the demise of Emily and Morgan's relationship, such as it was, I was working in a "realistic" palette. Realistically, I thought this was a moment where Hotch would come around and see that the time was right. Also, I'd needed to include this event soon anyway. Hotch wasn't going to push it past two weeks. I thought this way it's done, and now it's not something between them.
That was also a good way of working in her blissful thoughts about a happy family juxtaposed against the sadness you felt (hopefully) of almost the same world painted in Morgan's head. I thought that worked well. And I couldn't really get her to that place emotionally without finding a way to move away from her sadness for a bit. Having sex with Hotch seemed a sure fire way to pep her up :)
Even if we don't wrap here, I'm not sure if we'll get another update on Mirror this month. Unlike Girl, this one is not all sketched out with draft chapters so it's not just a matter of polishing things up. I actually have to think up plot points, write them and THEN, polish them up. That takes a little time. Especially when I'm juggling like a mad woman over here trying to keep everyone happy with updates on whichever their personal favorite story is :) I'm trying guys! Just bear with me, they'll all get to the finish line eventually :) It just depends on where my head is, what my mood is, on what story points come to me. You know they're all completely different worlds and sometimes my brain just refuses to play in the one I want it to. And nobody's more irritated than I am if the only thing that will come is an entirely NEW story!
I've got another damn mega story related to season 5 pushing against my cranium and I refuse to write a word of it until I wrap at least one of the relationship stories I'm already juggling. So once the horror story is done, I'm going to focus on getting at least Horses wrapped. And Mirror too, if we're still rolling. Girl's going to run into the new year no matter how hard I try to keep going with regular updates. There are still at least 40 chapters left. So I can promise, come the new year, even if all of these multi chapter pieces are winding down, I will have something new in the mix. And I am trying to get back to Chances, that's just one of those worlds that my brain won't play in no matter how hard I try. Sorry :(
So please remember to vote and I'll post the final tally on my profile page. That way you'll know if this is the end for now. If you vote to shut it down, feel free to suggest a name for the next segment. Something that will go with Mirror, Mirror. I do so hate naming things! Because if you end up hating it, you're still stuck with it.