The End of A Delusion

She could feel the bile burning the back of her throat. Swallowing hastily as she turned away from him, she bit back a moan. One sleepily breathed word…and she felt her world crumbling around her.

"Haley."

Choking on her tears, she kept her body perfectly still. So, she thought grimly, this was what it was like to want to die….to have the world just swallow you whole.

Had she actually tried to fool her mind into thinking that this was more than it actually was? She'd known from the outset that none of this had ever had a hope in hell of being more than exactly what it was. A fuck. Actually, a series of fucks, but still. It had only taken one drowsy utterance though to bring reality crashing into the cocoon of dreams she'd surrounded herself in.

She'd known what Aaron was in this for. The security of a presence with him. The comfort of a body pressing against his. It had nothing to do with emotions…at least not THOSE kind of emotions. Nothing like the feelings she'd tried to suppress for him. She'd been successful, too. She'd never verbalized that deep well of emotion she'd been sustaining for Aaron Hotchner, her internal defense system telling her that action would be folly. Thank God she'd listened to it.

Somehow, she'd known it would end like this. In pain. In tears. Aaron had tried to warn her in the beginning that this was what he could offer her…bone melting sex and companionship. He'd been clear that was ALL he could offer her. She had no right to feel blindsided. No right to be angry. He'd been honest. She was the guilty party. She'd gone outside the rules and fallen in love.

But he wasn't ever going to love her back. His heart was already taken. Stolen by a woman that, in another life, could have been her friend. Instead, here in this world, she was the rival. Although, could she really still be considered a rival if Haley had already won the battle?

Biting her lip as she raised a trembling hand to wipe at her damp eyes, Emily shook her head against the pillow. Licking her lips, she tasted the salt of her tears. Haley Hotchner. No one would ever compare to her in his eyes. She'd known that. But hearing that name breathed by his lips in that wistful, worshipful tone was almost enough to break her entirely. Because she'd never heard her name roll of his lips with that desire…that longing etched in his tone.

Stiffening her spine, Emily swallowed. It was time to see this for what it was. She had a choice to make. She could continue deluding herself into thinking this was more than the meaningless comfort sex it was or she could be the woman than said, "Enough." Her heart pled with her mind to stay…to accept the crumbs of affection the man asleep beside her could offer. But her mind held firm. She was worth more than this.

Sliding from between the cool cotton sheets slowly, she reached for her discarded shirt, slipping it on quickly. Rising from the bed, she made short work of replacing her panties and slacks on her body. Turning to look over her shoulder, she saw dark hooded eyes staring back at her.

"Emily?" he questioned, his voice rough from sleep. "Where are you going? It's four in the morning."

"Home," she said simply.

"I don't understand," he replied, pushing himself up on his elbows as he watched her step into her heels.

"Neither one of us is going to find what we want here, Aaron," Emily said softly. "I don't regret what happened between us, but we need to stop it now."

He caught her hand as she began to move away from the bed. "Tell me what I did wrong," he ordered softly, his eyes soft as they examined her face.

"Nothing, Aaron," Emily said, trying not to choke on the words. "You didn't do anything wrong," she said drawing gently away from his touch. Now that she'd resolved to end this, his touch was almost tangibly painful. A burn that no amount of ice would numb. "It was just a bad idea to try to salve our bodies with each other."

"Why? You don't think two broken people can heal each other?" he asked softly, watching as she gathered her purse and keys.

Snapping her head up, Emily turned to face him. "That's the problem, Aaron. I wasn't broken until I slept with you. And I won't let you shatter me. I know hurting me was never your intention and it isn't your fault. But this," she said, gesturing around the bedroom, "is over."

And with those parting words, she was gone. Leaving a shaken Aaron Hotchner in her wake.

FINIS