Author's Note: Hope you all enjoy this short oneshot. Please read, review, and let me know what you thought! As ever, I don't own Criminal Minds.
The Comfort of Normalcy
As Haley Hotchner walked from her ex-husband's room, her eyes immediately found Emily Prentiss sitting in one of the orange vinyl chairs beside David Rossi. Smiling down at their son, she looked up at Dave. "Dave, would you mind taking Jack down to the cafeteria and getting him a juice box for the road?" she asked quietly.
Glancing quickly at Emily beside him, Dave saw the slight inclination of the brunette's head before he nodded. Holding out a hand to Jack, Dave crouched in front of him. "Come on, Big Guy! You wanna come get some juice with Uncle Dave?"
Taking his uncle's hand, Jack looked up at his mom.
"I'll be there soon," Haley whispered reassuringly to her son as she watched Dave and Jack retreat down the hallway. Finally drawing a deep breath, Haley took the seat beside Emily that Dave had just vacated.
Sitting in silence for a moment, Haley finally gathered the courage to look at the older woman. Biting her lip, she whispered, "How long, Emily?"
"I'm sorry," Emily said, lifting her head to look at Haley inquisitively.
"How long have you two been together?" Haley asked.
"Look, Haley, I'm not sure what you're implying, but-" Emily said uncomfortably.
"You look at him like I used to, Emily," Haley confided quietly.
Clearing her throat, Emily looked away. "Nothing happened until long after your divorce was finalized, Haley."
Laughing bitterly, Haley shook her head. "Oh, I wasn't concerned about that, Emily. No. Aaron is much too noble and honorable to do something immoral. No, I just wondered if you know what you're getting yourself into."
"I'm not sure what you mean," Emily replied uneasily.
"He won't change, you know. He'll always be consumed by this job. He has been ever since he took it. When we got married, Aaron was a different person. Happy…carefree. And then he joined this unit…and the man I married went away. He just disappeared before my eyes and I felt like I was left with a stranger. I still feel like I'm dealing with a stranger," Haley confessed.
"He's doing this to protect you and Jack. You understand that, don't you?" Emily asked quietly.
"I do," Haley nodded. "I'm not trying to make Aaron into a monster, Emily. I just want you to understand that if you ever want to have a normal life, with a normal husband then Aaron Hotchner isn't the kind of man you want to become attached to. His intentions may be wonderful, but you'll end up alone in the end. He'll never be able to walk away from all this," Haley sighed, waving a hand in the air.
"Haley, I see the same things he does every day," Emily said softly.
"Maybe that's the biggest difference between you and I. I never WANTED to see the things he did," Haley replied honestly.
"That doesn't make either one of you wrong," Emily stated evenly.
"No, I don't suppose it does," Haley said, rising. "I'd better go find Jack. Aaron said the US Marshal would be here soon." Looking down at Emily, Haley whispered, "Just be careful with your heart, Emily. And remember, Aaron will never be able to give you the stability of a normal relationship," Haley advised before walking away.
Shaking her head as she watched the woman walk down the hallway, Emily snorted. That was her big argument? Aaron couldn't offer the stability of normalcy? Rolling her eyes, Emily knew one thing. Normalcy was over-rated. Her love for the injured man in the hospital room wasn't.