PROMPT: The Quick Fix (The Shield)

Hotch chewed the inside of his cheek as he looked down at the dark head, resting on the second pillow. He'd slept with her. Again. That would make four times since Foyet's attack. Four times he'd had sex with Emily Prentiss after his world was ripped away from him.

He was addicted to her, there was no question about that. He was addicted to the safety, to the friendship, but he was taking advantage of it. Logically, he was well aware of that. Emily deserved better than his broken shell and even Hotch knew he couldn't give her more than that. Quite simply, he didn't have more to give.

Everything was gone. His son, his sanity… Even worn out as he was he didn't sleep. He and Emily weren't gentle lovers, though Hotch couldn't decide if it was the circumstances in which they came together or if that was just the way they were. Nevertheless, he didn't close his eyes. He couldn't close his eyes.

It had been a long time since he'd let his guard down in his own home. He'd slept in the office before the security system was installed, and even then, if his gut said don't go home, he didn't. What was worse, was that he knew, to a certain extent, that he was putting her in too much danger. Foyet had taken his life from him, there was no doubt about that, but if he took Emily…

Their nights together were a quick fix to his problem. They were a few moments to bask in her warmth, to absorb her body beside his, but that was all. That was all it could be. He couldn't risk her, wouldn't risk her, and so everything between them had to be no strings. No emotion, just sex. Just the comfort. Just the fix.

He hadn't anticipated this. Their nights together, as few as they were, grew progressively closer together. The first time had been after Call. She'd chewed him out – and in retrospect, she had a right to and he'd appreciated it – and he couldn't just watch that flame and fire in her eyes and stance and not want her. Neither of them had spoken about it in the morning. They had a cup of coffee before the sun rose, and she was gone by the time he was out of the shower. The second time was three weeks later, the next only ten days.

This one… this one had been three. Three days since they'd last been together like this, and it wasn't a case, it wasn't… She'd been the one to show up on his doorstep, and though part of him had been grateful to see her, part of him knew she couldn't just know. They were sex buddies, barely even friends.

He sighed, unable to resist reaching out to toy with the ends of that dark hair as it splayed across the white sheets. Porcelain skin was tucked away under sheets and blankets and Hotch found himself wondering if this was the same for her as it was for him. Just a fix. A comfort in the dark and dreary things they saw, even in the simple routine of their paperwork.

"You have to sleep sometime, Aaron."

The words were murmured sleepily, almost directly into the pillow. But he heard them and couldn't seem to stop the tilt of his mouth. "I can't."

There were no barriers during their snatched time together. In the morning, they'd both be FBI agents. Here, they were anything but. Here, they were a man and a woman seeking comfort and relief from daily stress. Here, they were two regular people who had fallen in bed together. Here, they weren't broken, they weren't dark, they weren't breaking rules.

"You're going to make yourself sick."

His hand moved up to stroke her head, no longer deterred from actually touching her since she was awake. "I can't."

"Make yourself sick?" Her brow wrinkled as one eye cracked open. Then he put pressure on her head and the eye fell closed again as a contented sigh slipped past her lips. "You're playing dirty."

Her words brought his libido to the fore and his grin is wicked. This is the only time he smiles anymore, the only time he feels like he can. This is a different world, this world of Emily. Foyet, the job, the pain… They can't reach him here. "Playing dirty would be doing this."

His hands slide the sheet down her body as his lips press to the middle of her back. She arched and moaned and he slid his hands up her arms, holding her in place. She had been sleeping on her stomach and he took shameless advantage of that fact his strength and weight keeping her pinned beneath him. He felt her body warm and relax under his, a sure sign that she was okay with what was happening. For the next hour she bent to his every whim, his every touch of his hands, his every brush of his lips.

This time, he pulled her into his arms as they tried to catch their breath, arranging her spent limbs against his side. She tensed and he rubbed his hand down her back. Eventually, she relaxed and he was sure she'd drifted off. The hand on his face surprised him.

"What is it?"

He had returned to that exhausted-but-unable-to-sleep state, the one he loathed and loved at the same time. That wakefulness was a bonus on cases, but more than that, watching her sleeping had become a high in itself. This though… This was emotional conversation. They didn't do emotional conversations. This wasn't about that, it couldn't be about that, because he wasn't about to risk her life, her protection, her safety like he'd inadvertently risked his son's.

He pressed a kiss to the palm of her hand. "It's nothing."

She pulled away, and he let her, knowing it wasn't the answer she wanted to hear. But when she actually pushed herself up from the bed, her head swinging slowly from side to side, he knew that it was much bigger than that. He hadn't just pulled away, he'd screwed up, and he couldn't stop thinking that he'd actually just done something that may be irreversible. "Emily?"

"Have you seen my underwear?"

The question told him without a doubt that he'd screwed up, and not just in the theoretical relationship way. Because things between him and Emily weren't a relationship. It was mind-boggling sex, but it wasn't a relationship. They didn't share things. They didn't date. They had sex.


Apparently not.


She held up a hand. "Look, I don't… I don't need an explanation. I knew going into this what it would entail and, really, it hasn't been long enough for things to change. I know that. I know you're struggling and I want to be here anyway I can. If this is all you can give me, this is what I'm going to take."

But he was taking so much more from her and he knew that. He knew that all he was doing was taking, taking, taking, and not giving back. At all. Part of him didn't know how, not only because of his failed marriage, but because the absolute last thing he wanted to do was put her in the line of fire. He'd lost so much, he didn't know what he'd do if he lost her too.

Her sigh brought him back to the moment at hand. "But I need to go home."

He should have known that even after a measly four nights together, it wouldn't be enough. He should have known that she was being as selfless as she could, trying to keep her distance when he'd known from the outset she couldn't. She may not have been under any external influences that first time, but he was a pulling one for her. He'd known that, and that was why he'd used her.

The words punched him in the gut. He'd been using her. On many levels, he'd known that already. He wasn't a dumb man, of course he knew. But it didn't matter until this second, this moment, realizing that for the first time she was going to leave him in the middle of the night because he'd pulled away, erected walls.

He grabbed her wrist as she moved to stand. "Don't," he managed to choke out.

She sat back, looking utterly defeated. "I can't stay."

"I need you," he whispered.

"But you don't want me." She gave him one of the most heart-breaking smiles he'd ever seen and he was too stunned to stop her when she pushed herself up again.

His mind is a whirl. He hadn't had the magic words, said the right thing, and while in too many respects that didn't come as a surprise to him, he was still stunned. But he wasn't naïve enough to think that she was talking about simply sex. For those first couple of weeks, before he'd all but forced her onto his dining room table to take her that very first time, she'd tried to break past the armour. Words, food, comfort, a simple presence… she'd even gone as far as to try every behavioural trick in the book, and nothing had worked.

"I'm too broken."

By this point, she'd done up her bra and was just sliding her bra on. Her underwear and pants were in their proper places. She was steps from walking out that door. But she stopped, blinked at him. "What?"

He closed his eyes, leaning his head on the knees he pulled up to his chest. "Regardless of… of anything else," and he knew she was aware of what he was talking about, "I'm too broken."

He didn't look up when she sighed.

"Look at me."

When he did, he took in her posture, her blouse still undone, her hands on her hips. Her eyes were blazing again, the same way they did that first night, and he wasn't sure whether he was about to get a lecture or if she was actually going to yell at him again.

"You're only broken if you want to be," she told him, straight up, point blank. Emily Prentiss. "If you want to be by yourself, that's fine. That's your decision. I do this because I think it's the only way I can help right now and it's better than nothing. It's better than letting you walk in front of UNSUBS with guns when you're not wearing a vest. It's better than letting you be reckless, than letting you snap at local PD because you're so damned angry at the rest of the world."

She shrugged. "What it is to me, what I want it to be, doesn't matter."

"It does." And the passion and conviction in his voice surprised them both. But he can feel things welling up in his chest. He can actually feel. For her. "You deserve better, Emily. Not," and he had to swallow, thickly, "You don't deserve to be used."

She came back and perched on the edge of the bed, her hand coming out again, forcing his head up so she could cup his cheek. That sad smile was back again. "Does it help?"

The sigh he let out was stunningly explosive and he can tell by the way her eyes widen that he's shocked them both. "It's a quick fix," he found himself saying before he could stop himself. "It helps for a while, but then we go back to that damned job, those damned cases, and it's back to that dark despair again."

Her brows knit together. "I'm confused."

And it struck him suddenly, like epiphanies often did. "You… you're a drug," he whispered, his mind whirling, trying to put the words into the right place. "I can't get enough of you."

"You can't get enough of my body." Her tone was understanding, even if her words seemed to punch even more holes in her already fragile walls.

"I can't get enough of you," he repeated, his eyes meeting hers, his chest burning. "I was glad it was you that drove me home. I was glad it was you driving me into the office and then home again. I was glad it was you that chewed me out that night and not Derek, Dave or JJ." They both knew he didn't just throw JJ's name into the mix. Hotch and JJ had a special bond, one that Emily was not jealous of in the slightest.

"I want to give you more," he said, and by the way her eyes darkened he knew he said the right thing. "But I can't."

"It's your choice to be broken," she repeated, this time with more conviction, less sadness. Her thumb strokes over his cheek. "Let me help you, Aaron."

"I want to," he admitted, for the first time to them both. "But I can't break you too."

"I'm stronger than I look," she answered, and both of them recognized the truth in the cliché. "I'm not afraid of Foyet and I'm not Haley. I can take care of myself in those types of situations. And I can take the darkness. I can take Aaron, and I can take Agent Hotchner." She'd said the words they never acknowledged, dealt with the Bureau-shaped elephant in the room.

He pulled her to him, ignoring the little squeak she released as she sprawled over the mattress. He rolled them, resituated them so he was on top of her again, his hands brushing her hair back. He liked it longer, without the bangs. "I want you, Emily," he said. "Please stay."

She nodded. "Okay."

I have absolutely no idea where this came from. None. What so ever. The first couple of lines popped into my head and then I was off.

Leave a note please. Or a review. Considering how deep and down this one was, it would probably cheer me up.

Loves to all!