Author's Note: Major response to this one, I'm glad so many people connected with it. Here's the for real end. And I promise you won't cry in this part :)
Seven weeks later
Hotch's eyes popped open as he felt a tiny set of claws dig into his bare chest.
"What the hell?!"
He mock scowled at the little feline standing on top of him as he heard Emily giggle from beside him on the bed.
"It's just because she likes you."
Emily reached over to scratch behind the ears of her new kitten, "you're nice and warm to sleep on top of," then her lip quirked up as she winked at Hotch, "you know that's the only reason I let you into my bed."
It was actually number five on the list of reasons why she let him into her bed. But numbers one through four were not appropriate for the furry young ears in the room.
Trying to hide the twitch of his lips, Hotch looked at Emily and then back down to the little calico kneading her tiny claws into his chest.
It didn't hurt quite as much as the first dig, but still . . . he gently picked up the kitten with two hands, holding her over his face . . . being a pin cushion wasn't really one of his life's ambitions.
As Emily smiled at the interplay between Hotch and her new kitty she suddenly heard a meow at the side of the bed and she looked down and grinned, "Daisy May! Good morning!" she patted the bed, "come on up baby," she smiled over at Hotch, "join the family."
He grinned back at her as he sat up against the headboard, holding the kitten protectively to his chest as he rubbed its ears. Daisy hopped up on the mattress and climbed into Emily's lap. Then to Hotch's amusement she began to purr loudly enough to wake the dead.
Apparently she was in a good mood today. Which was fortunate because Hotch had been a little worried that she'd be jealous of the kitten. Especially given that the kitten had slept on Emily's shoulder last night.
But Daisy's latent motherly instincts seemed to have kicked in when the two felines were introduced. For one thing she hadn't hissed or swiped at it.
That was a plus.
And she hadn't protested when the little one curled up next to her in the cat bed. It was obvious that the baby missed its mother and Hotch was glad that Daisy seemed to be stepping up.
So all in all Hotch considered it a successful blending of families.
The surgery for Daisy had . . . against the statistics . . . been a complete success. Blockage removed, damage repaired and she'd started back on solid food within a few days of her release.
There were a few traumatic weeks for everyone as Hotch and Emily tried to get Daisy's post op medication into her on a semi-regular basis.
Hotch still had some scars healing from that fun time.
Basically though, Emily's furry friend had come through everything just fine. Her fur was still growing back, but she'd at least gotten that ridiculous cone taken off of her head last weekend.
But once Hotch had found out how old Daisy was . . . almost fourteen . . . he knew that probably someday soon Emily was going to have to deal with the mortality of her beloved pet. So he'd decided that maybe having a second cat . . . a baby . . . would lessen that blow a little. He'd gone to the shelter and picked out the calico from a group of kittens that had been found in an alley the week before.
They were estimated to be about six weeks . . . ironically born probably the same week of Daisy's surgery . . . but their mother appeared to either have been killed, or she'd abandoned them. Either way though, as a result of being separated so soon the vet at the shelter told Hotch all of the kittens were quite clingy.
Though that wasn't generally considered a good thing, that's actually what Hotch was hoping for . . . another cat that would bond with Emily in the same way that Daisy had.
So he'd picked the kitten up and brought her over to Emily's house two nights ago.
It was a surprise.
He'd told Emily that he had to work late and she'd been disappointed when he said that probably meant he wouldn't be over at all. But then less than an hour later he'd knocked on her door.
Emily had squealed in delight when she'd seen him standing there with a kitten in his arms.
That night he'd gotten lucky. VERY lucky. About as lucky as a guy can get. So that kitten was definitely tops in his book.
Then last night they'd left work and gone directly to the Petco so that Emily could pick out all of the accessories that she wanted. Hotch told her it was a package deal with the kitten. He'd brought a new four footed friend into the house so he'd pay for all settling in purchases and ALL future upkeep. It was his way of making another declaration.
It was his cat too.
And given that cats lived fifteen or twenty years Emily had grinned at him like an idiot when he'd said that to her.
So they went shopping on Hotch's dime. And in addition to the kitten chow and the little black leather collar, Emily also picked out a small purple carrier, a rubber ball with a jingle bell in it, and a fluffy blue catnip mouse.
All necessary purchases because Emily said that she didn't think Daisy would like to share her toys.
As Hotch handed the cashier his credit card he pretended to roll his eyes at his almost live-in girlfriend. But in reality her pronouncement had amused him to no end.
And just to make Emily happy he'd reached over and grabbed another catnip mouse off the display. He'd winked as he told her . . . just so Daisy wouldn't get jealous of all the kitten's new toys.
Yeah, he'd gotten lucky last night too.
He hadn't really been much of a cat person before his relationship with Emily, but . . . he looked down at the diminutive calico in his arms . . . he was starting to see their appeal.
They were very clean, well groomed, fairly quiet and overall tended to look after themselves without too much oversight from the grownups in charge.
Hell, that was more than Hotch could say for Derek and Spencer!
Not to mention . . . his eyes crinkled as the kitten yawned . . . they were freaking adorable. Though this little kitty did have one slight disadvantage at the moment.
One they really did need to address in short order.
Hotch looked over at Emily, "she still needs a name. We can't keep calling her 'she'." He shot Emily a look as he added drolly, "it's a little confusing."
What with Emily and two female cats in the house, 'she' was a lot confusing for use as a first name. It was like playing who's on first.
Emily chuckled, "yeah, you're right she does need a name," her eyes dropped down for a moment as she stroked her hand down Daisy's back. After a moment Emily looked back up at Hotch, "I was thinking of one, but don't laugh at me."
He was so going to laugh at her.
His lips twitched, "what is it?"
This should be good.
For a moment she stared at him without any expression, and then she grinned, "Clarice!"
For a child that was horrible, but as far as cats went . . . that was the best name EVER!
Hotch's mouth started to quiver and then his lip quirked up, "Clarice, huh?"
She nodded enthusiastically, "yeah, what do you think?"
Even though the kitten was a gift to her, it was understood that this was his cat too. So she really hoped that he wouldn't veto the name.
Seeing how excited Emily was about her choice, Hotch didn't even have the heart to tease her. And actually it was a cute name. And very appropriate. He knew that Silence of the Lambs was Emily's introduction to the world of FBI profiling.
If not for Clarice Starling the two of them may never have met again after his security assignment with her mother ended.
And that would have been a real tragedy. Because they were truly happy together. So much so that Emily had started to hint about him letting his lease go and moving in with her permanently.
That was a plan that he was very much on board with making happen. He'd already started looking for somebody to sublet his place.
And again, they never would have gotten to this point if not for her showing up unannounced . . . and ironically, unwanted . . . at his office door three and a half years ago.
So yes . . . he nodded to himself . . . Clarice sounded like an excellent choice.
But he pretended to give it a bit of thought as he scrunched up his face and looked down at the kitten in his hands, "what do you think about that one little girl?"
She meowed back at him and Hotch nodded seriously as he looked over at Emily.
"I think it's a go."
Emily exclaimed a happy, "YAY!" and then she leaned over Daisy so she could give Hotch a kiss. As she pulled back she grinned.
"I love you."
His lip quirked up as he leaned forward to capture her lips one more time before he whispered against them.
"I love you too."
A/N 2: Bet you all thought I'd killed Daisy there for a second, didn't you? Ye of little faith. Like anyone would have EVER read anything I wrote again if I killed off Emily's beloved tabby cat! I probably would have gotten less hate mail if I'd killed off HOTCH!
So happy endings all around. Just like I promised.
All right, I think I've definitely exceeded my fluffiness quotient for the week. Probably for the month, all I really needed to do here was have Jack come running in with a puppy and I think I would have hit all the high manipulative points :) So now I'm off to write dark and twistiness again. Hoping to wrap up the next chapter of Mirror tonight. So yes, that will be going up at some point in the next seven days.