Author's Note: So against most parts of my better judgment, I decided to open it up again. And trying to move along a little bit, (without having to do a major recap of a bunch of life developments), we're only jumping ahead about two weeks after we last left them with all of the Morgan drama. So though that's not totally in the past, there is a little bit of distance. It's not a forefront thought on their minds right now. Especially in this chapter, where they spend their time focused pretty much entirely on Baby's eventual arrival.
And please remember, this is not Girl'verse Emily. This is a world where Emily is less self-assured because of her crappy history. So her thoughts here, though they wouldn't perhaps go with my other Emilys, do go with this one.
Also, there is reference here to an antiquated establishment called the 'video store' :) Remember this is 2008.
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Here's a Pregnant Pause
"Ms. Prentiss, we're ready for you now."
Emily's head jerked up when she heard the technician calling her name.
And though she dropped the copy of Time magazine that she'd been pretending to read down on the shiny metal coffee table, she didn't actually respond to the woman's words in any other way. Instead she looked down anxiously at her watch . . . and then her eyes snapped over to the front door again.
But still . . . she bit down on her lip . . . no Hotch.
He'd texted her twenty minutes ago to say that he was on his way to the doctor's office, but that was fifteen minutes AFTER he was supposed to have left the Academy. So if that was a message he'd sent just as he'd left, she'd known that they'd be cutting things pretty close on his arrival. Still though . . . she felt a little pang in her chest . . . she really thought that he would make it in time.
Because today was an important day.
They were supposed to do the big ultrasound today. The one that was going to officially confirm that everything was moving along just as planned, that her due date was still on target, and that Baby had all of its stubby little fingers and toes in the proper array and alignment.
And she just didn't want to go in there and do that test without Hotch.
And he knew that.
"Ms. Prentiss," the technician repeated with a slightly tighter smile while pushing the side door open all the way, "is there a problem?"
"I . . . uh . . . uh . . ."
Emily stammered nervously as she looked between the open door she was supposed to walk through, and the closed one that Hotch should be stepping through any minute now.
"Could you um," she flattened her hand protectively over her slightly curved stomach, "could you perhaps take somebody else first?"
Though she could have said that she was waiting for her boyfriend, it would have sounded rather strange. After all, she was on the cusp of her second trimester, and this was . . . or would be . . . the first appointment that she hadn't attended totally alone.
She'd even left "Father's Name" and "Emergency Contact" blank on the patient intake forms.
And though "Father's Name" was still a black hole . . . hopefully the one where Chris was rotting in for all eternity . . . she really needed to update the Emergency Contact section. Hotch had most definitely taken over that role in her life, and if there was ever (God forbid) a problem with her and Baby, he was the only one that she'd want called.
He was the only one that she wanted period.
And her only reticence about mentioning him now, was that if she told the staff that she was waiting for a previously unseen/heard of boyfriend . . . she and Hotch had only been fully coupled up for a little over two months, so this was really the first appointment that she'd had the opportunity to even bring him to . . . and then he ended up NOT showing up before they finished the visit, she'd look, well . . . pathetic.
Yeah . . . she felt her stomach twisting as Technician Nancy's mouth pursed . . . pathetic would about cover it.
"Uh," Nancy wrinkled her nose slightly as she shook her head, "sorry, but I'm going off in twenty minutes. You're my last patient, and I need to set things up for the doctor."
"Oh," Emily's face fell, "I'm your last . . . oh, uh," her fingers tightened into a fist, "okay, then."
And with that, she reluctantly . . . and with another worrying glance to the closed front entrance . . . climbed to her feet.
'All right Prentiss,' she told herself as her eyes started to sting, 'get the hormones in check. This is NOT on any level, a 'tear worthy' event. Hotch must have gotten held up. These things happen, just deal with it like a grown up.'
Of course that was all perfectly sound advice. Except the problem was, she didn't WANT to deal with it like a grown up! She dealt with things like a grown up every damn day of the week. That was her job, "CONSTANT GROWN UP!" Right now she just wanted to be sad that her first ever good, sweet, kind significant other, wasn't there with her. That she was going to have to go do this part alone.
Just like she'd done all of the other parts alone.
And that really sucked.
Still though . . . as she walked across the waiting room . . . she tried to slap on something resembling a smile for the young technician who clearly didn't care about her personal issues, and just wanted to get off her shift. But she knew from the look on the girl's face, that the smile was more than a little strained.
But of course that was because it was completely disingenuous.
"Are you okay, Ms. Prentiss?"
And hearing that concern in the younger woman's voice . . . and feeling a sting of embarrassment that her emotional state had become so transparent to even strangers . . . Emily quickly nodded to try to play off her clearly visible, disappointment.
"Oh yeah, I'm fine. I just . . . um," she cleared over the little lump in her throat, "you know, long day."
And with that she reluctantly stepped past the tiny redhead, and thru the open doorway in front of her.
She'd only taken three trudging steps before she heard a breathless, familiar . . . and anxious . . . voice coming from the direction of the receptionist's desk.
"Emily Prentiss? Has she been called yet?"
Emily spun around, a huge grin sliding across her face as she brushed by the startled technician. She shoved the heavy door open again.
"Aaron, I'm here!" She called excitedly through the space, "I just got called."
'Thank GOD, he made it!' she thought while waving him over. Now he'd be there for Baby's test, AND she didn't have to be a big loser who was AGAIN at the doctor's all by herself!
Though really the former was more important than the latter.
Hotch sighed in relief as he took three quick strides over to the door that Emily was holding open for him.
"I'm so sorry I'm late sweetheart," he whispered as he kissed her cheek, "conference call ran long."
He'd known how nervous she was today . . . the tests always made her nervous . . . and he'd been screaming in his head at the jackass in Finance that hadn't wrapped up the God damn budget call on time. When they'd finally finished . . . twenty minutes late . . . he'd actually sprinted from his office to his car. As it was he'd just barely resisted throwing the red light on the dashboard as he raced through northern Virginia to make the ultrasound in time.
Actually the only reason that he hadn't thrown up the red light, was because it was, A) a Class A misdemeanor to misuse said red light, and B) he'd lucked out getting off the congested 95 and going over to the side roads instead.
It shaved at least ten minutes off his expected drive. And that landed him at the OBs office almost on time for the appointment that Emily had been wringing her hands about for the last two days.
He would have hated himself if he'd missed it.
When he stepped over the threshold into the restricted area of the doctor's office, Hotch's hand immediately fell to the small of Emily's back. And as he tucked her protectively against his side . . . something he found himself regularly doing now in their private hours . . . he looked down at the small redhead staring at them.
She looked, well . . . his brow rose up slightly in amusement . . . shocked.
"Aaron Hotchner," he added with a tip of his head while guiding Emily a few steps back into the little corridor, "sorry for holding things up."
It was clear that this woman was not expecting him to exist . . . she was blatantly looking him up and down . . . let alone show up for this visit. But of course he knew that this was the first time Emily had brought anyone to an appointment with her, so he figured that 'surprise' was to be expected.
Though . . . he suddenly felt a surge of indignation . . . the 'shock' in the woman's reaction was definitely out of place. After all, this was Emily for Christ's sake! Not an eight hundred pound LEPER! He was the one that had been blessed when she'd chosen to give him the time of day.
It was not the other way around.
And in deference to the implied insult to his girlfriend, he shot the technician a slightly harder look . . . though nowhere near as terrifying as he could have. Her reaction to that was a slight reddening of her cheeks as her eyes dropped for a split second.
When she looked back up, she gave them both a polite smile. And then she quickly shook her head.
"No problem at all. We were just going in now."
Then she turned and . . . after one more quick glance . . . started walking again.
When the woman began walking, Hotch started guiding Emily along behind her. And then she leaned up to whisper in his ear.
"I haven't mentioned the father, I didn't even put Chris' name on the paperwork, and given my age, I think they've been assuming that Baby came from a turkey baster or something."
Hotch nodded faintly as he patted Emily's back . . . that made sense.
'Well, whatever their prior perceptions had been,' he thought to himself as they continued down the hall, 'he was pleased to be able to at least give Baby some (alluded to) paternity.'
Even if Baby wasn't technically his, (and he was really starting to view that genealogical connection as a mere technicality) he had every intention of stepping up in the impending dad department. And that meant attending as many of these doctor's visits with Emily as his schedule would allow.
Actually it meant bending his schedule, to make sure that they WOULD be allowed.
He knew how important it was to Emily to have somebody else share this part of the experience with her. When she was in that room, she wanted to be like all of the other expectant moms.
Holding the hand of her significant other.
And as far as he was concerned . . . he slid his hand up to rest on the back of her neck . . . that point was now a down deal. Technicality or not . . . and again, if asked, he was saying 'not' . . . she wouldn't be going through anymore of this by herself.
Not as long as he had something to say about it.
So once inside the small exam room, he walked Emily over to the table. And seeing the little lines of tension around her mouth . . . again, even when they were routine, the tests always spiked her blood pressure . . . he made sure to give her a soft smile as his hands dropped to her waist.
And then he surprised her with a lift up to the butcher block paper.
"Thanks," Emily whispered, her fingers coming up to brush along his jaw. And once more seeing the nerves on her face . . . and the worry in her eyes . . . he mouthed the words he knew that she needed to hear.
Then he winked, and she smiled . . . it was still a little tight, but that was okay . . . as her hand fell away from his face.
That free hand immediately grasped his fingers instead.
And while the technician set about moving the equipment and sliding over the little tray of accessories, Hotch set about getting Emily shifted to a more comfortable position back on the table.
Though he would have of course been doing that anyway . . . he looked after her as much as she would allow . . . whatever perceptions that these people had of Emily and her 'situation,' he was going to make damn sure that they were on a 180 by appointment's end.
Because she wasn't alone, and Baby didn't come out of any test tube.
Baby was loved.
Though he had to momentarily push that thought aside when the doctor came into the room. She was looking down at the file in her hands when she said hello to Emily. And when she looked up, she too paused for a second, staring at him in surprise. This time though, he was prepared.
And he had a story that would fix all of the speculation about Emily's 'turkey baster' situation. So he was at his most solicitous and charming when he put his hand out.
"Aaron Hotchner," he smiled and tipped his head, "I've been traveling."
Hotch was lying down on the couch with Emily curled up in front of him. Her head was tucked under his chin.
His arm was draped over her stomach.
They'd arrived home from the doctor's appointment a few hours earlier. After dinner . . . takeout (a treat) of fettuccini alfredo from their favorite Italian restaurant . . . Emily had told Hotch that it was a good evening to do something to celebrate Baby's arrival. He'd assumed that she wanted to research baby names, or pick out colors for the nursery.
She'd just wanted to cuddle up and watch a movie. But given her stress leading up to the appointment . . . which had of course had gone just as smoothly as he'd expected, Baby was good and still on target for arrival November fourth . . . her desire for simple decompression made sense to him. And from his perspective, it was an excellent excuse to dump the case files for one night. Though the more time that passed with them now together, the less of an excuse he actually needed to make that happen.
If not for the urgency . . . and shear overwhelming VOLUME . . . of their cases, he'd be happy to do nothing more than cuddle up with her every night. And actually, barring genuine emergencies, he had cut back to no more than sixty minutes of work per evening.
Huge progress for him.
And tonight he'd only done ten minutes before she'd walked into the living room with a hopeful smile, a cannoli for the two of them to split (dessert that came with their dinner) and her request. So once he'd flashed her a dimple and nodded his assent, he'd slipped his folders and laptop back into his bag. Then he'd grabbed his bite of the Italian pastry, pressed a quick kiss to her lips . . . which tasted of sweet ricotta . . . and gone out to Blockbuster with a list of new films he knew were on Emily's short list. And as it was only Wednesday . . . traditionally a slow movie night . . . he'd been able to come back with her number one pick.
The newest Jason Bourne.
Fortunately he and Emily had similar taste in movies. And he did like the film, but they were at least hour in . . . far enough that he should be completely immersed in the plot . . . and still his mind kept drifting.
He was thinking about the ultrasound.
It was the first time that he'd seen Baby since he and Emily had become romantically involved. The first time he'd seen that little cluster of cells and thought, 'mine. That child is mine.'
But it wasn't.
And that's why he couldn't stay focused. Though week by week he was feeling more and more secure in his relationship with Emily, intellectually he knew that their romance was still relatively new.
The shiny parts hadn't yet worn away.
And there was a small, unwelcome, whisper in his brain that continued to worry that when the shine was gone, that problems might arise. That threads might be pulled.
That their unraveling would begin.
Again, intellectually, he knew that he needed to let that fear go. Because there were parts of your life that were always going to be beyond your control. A certain amount of fear about your relationships was normal. Or at least it had always been normal for him.
Even more so now since the divorce.
And he supposed that this dark little whisper probably would stay with him at least until Baby was born. But then after that, more decisions would be made. If their commitment to one another . . . and to their future . . . had solidified as he expected that it would, then he would ask Emily if he could adopt Baby as his own. For real.
Make Jack a big brother.
But those decisions were still some months away, he reminded himself. Those were things to be worked out later. Though in the meantime, as they lay there curled together, over the course of the last hour, he'd been sliding Emily's tank top incrementally further up her stomach.
It was now completely bare. His palm was resting over the expanding bump.
The word came to him again. This baby is mine. And that's when he decided that maybe they could start working on some of those future plans sooner, rather than later.
It might make that whisper go away.
"Have you ever thought about buying a house?" He murmured.
Emily's brow wrinkled as she reached over to press pause on the remote that was sitting on the coffee table. Then she turned to look at Hotch over her shoulder.
This was an unexpected conversation.
"Yeah," Hotch nodded slowly, "a house. You know some grass, a little yard, a fence," he bit his lip, "a couple of bedrooms . . . maybe three. Or four."
It was a bit of ham handed way to bring up the idea of an eventual suburban homestead, but he just wanted to know if she'd ever considered the idea herself. And if not, then he was simply planting the seed.
It could continue to gestate along with Baby itself.
Emily stared at Hotch for a moment before she started to get a crick in her neck. So she turned her head back around, her eyes settling on his wallet sitting on the coffee table in front of them.
She reached over . . . stretching a bit . . . so she could pick it up.
And feeling Hotch continuing to rub a gentle circle on her stomach, she flipped open the small leather case. And there . . . in the back . . . tucked down behind his credit cards and receipts from the week, was what she was looking for. The little plastic slip.
The first thing she saw of course was a picture of Jack. It was from their trip to the zoo last weekend. And she knew that because he had a stuffed giraffe in his hand. She'd bought it for him . . . it was their first get together. Their introduction.
It had gone very well.
And Emily's eyes crinkled as she saw the little dimples that looked so much like Aaron's. But her baby wouldn't have dimples.
Not this one anyway.
But maybe . . . no . . . she furrowed her brow slightly . . . no, she was getting MUCH too far ahead of herself.
One baby at a time, Emily. God.
And though she knew, with not a shred of doubt, that Hotch loved her . . . love was such a complicated emotion. And it had so little tangible proof to back it up.
At least in a relationship as new as theirs was.
Which meant that there was little that she could point to . . . to an outsider for instance . . . and say, "there, see, see how much he loves me." But this, what she was holding in her hand, she thought that it might give her some clue. Some proof for the outsider . . . who was in this instance . . . the battered young woman that she once was.
The battered young woman that . . . some part of her . . . would always be.
You could never completely escape your past.
And before she could even consider answering the house question . . . or even really seriously consider the 'baby with dimples' future . . . she wanted to see something for herself. And she needed to see it objectively. To see that proof.
To see where she stood.
So she moved along through the photos, seeing the age progression of Jack going backwards from three, to only a few months old. Her teeth sunk into her lip.
That was all there was.
The stab of disappointment was unexpected in its severity. But of course the results of her expedition were unexpected as well.
She wasn't there.
"Look on the other side."
Hotch's words were an amused murmur in her ear. So Emily turned over the little plastic photo holder . . . and her eyes started to water. Here it was. Slid into each of the sleeves, was another picture.
Each slot that had a picture of Jack . . . had a picture of her. Laughing, smiling, some taken around the apartment . . . a couple from the day they spent walking around Georgetown. One was even taken when she was sleeping on the couch.
It wasn't a bad shot.
"I'll need another sleeve when the baby's born," he whispered.
Emily rolled over in his arms then, a tear sliding down her cheek.
"We can double up," she said with a watery smile, "Baby and me." But Hotch just shook his head as he brushed her hair back behind her ear.
"Perhaps a couple of them, but you're still getting your own sleeve sweetheart."
She leaned up and kissed him before murmuring against his lips, "I'll think about the house." Then she pulled back with a little smile.
"Let's put a pin in it until next month. We'll talk about it then, k?"
His eyes crinkled.
Though he really wasn't looking to rush the decision, putting it on the table had made him feel better. Because the fact of the matter was . . . as long as they weren't on the road . . . he was sleeping at her place about five days a week now. He was really only at his apartment on the weekends.
When he had Jack.
But now Emily had met Jack . . . and Jack had met Emily. And they'd hit it off just as he'd hoped they would. His son had even let her help him tie an errant shoelace.
That was a big deal.
Because usually . . . since he'd learned how over a spring weekend when Hotch had practiced with him over and over . . . he'd insisted on doing them himself. But he'd just given Emily a shy smile when she'd stooped down to fix it for him. Then he'd let her take his hand again as they walked over to look at the baby elephants. She was pointing to the animals, and telling him their names off the little plaque. Answering all of his little boy questions with smiles and patience.
She was a natural born mother.
And Hotch had watched their interactions with a swell of happy relief in his heart . . . his two loves were bonding.
So for that reason, he was quite sure that by the time Emily reached her third trimester, he'd be staying at her apartment the full seven days a week. And at that point, he keeping a second lease was going to be a ridiculous waste of money.
It had already somewhat reached that point.
And also . . . and this was his bigger, more responsible 'fatherly' thought . . . once he was at seven days, that would obviously mean that Jack would be there regularly too. And Emily only had one spare room.
And that room was not going to be big enough for both of their children.
Baby would need a full nursery, and Jack would soon need a big boy bed. And with any plans that they had to officially . . . or even unofficially . . . blend their little families together, it would obviously be easier to do that in a larger home. Separate bedrooms, separate bathrooms . . . a nice big backyard. Then nobody would be crowded or stressed.
It would make the transition much smoother.
Hotch was pulled from his musings about life in suburbia, by Emily's soft sigh.
She'd just picked up the picture of the ultrasound again.
It too had been sitting on the coffee table. And as he stared at it over her shoulder, an idea suddenly came to him. His eyes crinkled.
So stupid, he should have thought of it before.
But nonetheless . . . he patted Emily's hip . . . at least he'd thought of it tonight.
"Sorry sweetheart," he bumped her legs with his, "but I have to get up for a minute."
When she shifted forward, sitting up as she dropped her feet to the area rug, he slid around her and stood up.
"Need to borrow this for one second," he said with a little wink, while slipping the ultrasound from her fingers.
And as she watched him in confusion, he walked over to her home office area. It was a small hutch where she kept her printer, paper, pens and just general stuff like that. After he'd opened the little painted wooden door, he lifted the lid on the printer and placed the black and white photo down on its face.
He pressed a few buttons . . . and then a few more. And then he grabbed a piece of the thick glossy paper from the special stack on the shelf below.
After he'd slipped it into the printer, he pressed start. A few seconds later . . . out it slid on the other side.
He picked up the scissors from their little nook and started snipping away.
When he turned back around he had four pictures in his hand. He walked back over to the couch . . . and with Emily still looking at him with a curious eyebrow . . . he put three of the photos down on the table.
The fourth he kept with him.
And after he'd . . . somewhat reluctantly . . . slipped out one of the pictures of Emily from his wallet (it was hard to choose, he'd liked them all) he slid the tiny wallet sized ultrasound in instead.
Shared sleeve for now.
He'd pick up a second one the next time he was in the drug store.
Just as his lip quirked up, his head swiveled to look over at Emily.
"And there we go," he tapped his finger on the little grey peanut, "Baby's first official photo in the wallet. What do you think?"
The tears in Emily's eyes started to pool. Then she turned and looked over at Hotch . . . and the proof of love for Baby as well. It was more than she could have hoped for. She smiled, even as a tear slid down her cheek.
"I think it's just perfect."
A/N 2: I actually started this chapter a year ago. Her waiting for him in the doctor's office, but I never could finish it. I was immersed in girl'verse stories then and Mirror is a totally different universe. If you write, you might know what I mean by that. So I could never get the proper feel for THIS version of them to come back to me so I could finish the story. I just couldn't get through the mirror, so to speak :)
But I was bored one day and just started cleaning up the earlier chapters here, smoothing out some rough bits from my earlier writing 'skills' ;) and then suddenly I was back in their heads again. I still want to smooth out a few more sections from the original chapters, but I think they're better than they were.
I actually do kind of have the next few sequential events here in my head, so I'm going to TRY to fold this into rotation with Emerald Cities and The Arrangement. Realistically I know I can't actively juggle more than 3 big stories at once.
And I did purposely skip a chapter on the Jack and Emily meet in this world because I've done their meeting (more than once)and I didn't think it had to be 'live' here to have the same impact. They're bonding, it's good. We'll get back to Morgan's status and whether the team knows about Emily's pregnancy yet, next time around. I didn't cover it here because, you know, you don't think about EVERY aspect of your life, at every moment in time :) Today was about other things.
I know expectations can sometimes be high if something's been sitting for a while. So hopefully I didn't disappoint anybody with the return chapter :) And if you're wondering, The Arrangement will be coming back shortly.
Thanks as always for the feedback everybody!