Author's Note: This is just a one shot. I swear! No new multi chapter fics. But I really don't have any 'verses that are in the Christmas season quite yet and I wanted to write something for the challenge. But this particular story is actually Kavi's story. So I wanted to give full credit for the basic plot (don't want to ruin it here so I'll tell you at the end) but basically we were picking out prompts, she told me what she was thinking about doing with this one and the story (my version of it) immediately started spinning in my head. And given this was completely her idea, that she's planning on doing herself, she was very kind to give me permission to put up my version as well. So thanks again hon :)

And in case you haven't seen them, we've put up the Christmas/holiday prompts. There are 25 of them! There's definitely something for everyone so go check 'em out and get your holly jolly asses in gear writing some Christmas fics! :)

Lastly as to the story, didn't think the holidays would be so festive for them this year so we're in the way back machine to Christmas season 4.


Prompt Challenge #13

Show: Just Shoot Me

Title Challenge: Christmas? Christmas!


Christmas Eve Day - 2008

All About Christmas Eve

'What the hell?'

Aaron Hotchner stopped and stared at the brightly wrapped package sitting in the middle of his desk.

Furrowing his brow, he slowly stepped further into the room and crossed over to his desk.

Okay . . . he stared down in consternation . . . this was most definitely not here when he left for the year end wrap up meeting with Strauss and the other unit chiefs.

So where did it come from?

Then he noticed the card half hidden underneath the box.

Ah . . . he reached over to pick it up . . . that should solve the mystery.

His eyebrow went up as he noted the quality of the creamy paper in his hand . . . it was expensive.

But he still had no idea who could have left it. Aside from Dave leaving his annual bottle of thirty year old Scotch . . . which he usually drank half of so Hotch was fairly sure that didn't really count as a 'gift' . . . Hotch hadn't received any presents besides a couple tins of cookies and a few candy canes.

So as he ran his finger along the seam of the envelope, he was rather curious about this 'two pm on Christmas Eve Day drop and run' present.

The card was printed with a simple 'Merry Christmas,' but his expression softened as he read the handwritten note beneath it.

'Aaron,

I know it's been a hard year for both of us. And I wanted you to know that I wouldn't have gotten through those weeks after Colorado without your support. Your friendship is the most important in my life. But I was afraid that I didn't have the words to really tell you how much you've come to mean to me, so consider this gift a token of my affection.

Yours,

Emily'

Feeling a spark of hope ignite in his heart, Hotch's eyes greedily scanned the note a second time. There was a lot there to see if you wanted to read between the lines.

And he very much did want to read between the lines. Then his gaze caught on one word . . . yours.

What did that mean? Was it like a polite 'yours truly'? Or was it like 'yours always'? As in, she was HIS, always. Clearly those were two very different interpretations, and he didn't know which one to infer.

Though as he read he note a third time that little spark grew into a fully flickering flame as he began to see that she probably meant the latter.

YES . . . he felt a burst of relief and happiness . . . SHE MEANT THE LATTER!

Though he and Emily weren't technically involved beyond a deep and affectionate friendship, he'd realized a couple of months ago how strong his feelings for her had become.

He'd fallen in love with her.

And he'd been trying to think of a way to tell her. Or at least to change their platonic status to something more. And he could now see that she'd had the same thought and was trying to tell him so with the gift.

THE GIFT!

His eyes widened as they dropped down to the shiny blue paper . . . he hadn't opened the gift yet!

The token of her affection.

He placed the card back on his desk and picked up the package, noticing how neatly it was wrapped. And then he looked down at the heavy bond paper of the card and he realized how much care and attention she'd put into the little details.

It was sweet.

And it didn't seem right to rip the paper so he carefully slid his finger under the ends and pulled them apart.

Inside he found a white box and he slowly lifted the lid . . . his eyes started to burn as he lifted out the book inside.

She remembered.

It was a signed first edition of the Old Man and the Sea. It had been his father's favorite novel. And Hotch had inherited his signed first edition copy, but it had been lost in the divorce.

Literally lost. Haley said she'd looked everywhere in the house but she couldn't find it. And Hotch believed her, they were never so acrimonious that she would lie about something like that.

But still it had saddened him. When he was little, his father used to read that story to him before bed.

The book was the one fine memory he had of that man.

And he had mentioned that to Emily one day. It was after midnight, everyone else was sleeping and they were on the plane discussing their favorite authors. She'd finally gotten him to try a Vonnegut, and he was pushing her to give Hemingway another chance. And in the course of that conversation, he mentioned that was the book his dad had read to him as a boy and that he'd lost it in the move.

He just couldn't believe she remembered that story. It was months ago.

"Do you like it?"

Hotch spun around as he heard her tentative voice from the doorway.

Emily gave Hotch a nervous smile as she stepped closer, "that's the right one, isn't it?"

God, she hoped it was the right one. She'd spent $800 dollars on it! Mint would have cost her up to ten grand, but this one was a little worse for wear. But she figured with a gift like this it was the thought that counted and that Hotch wouldn't mind the condition.

Hotch stared at her for a second, and then he gave her a little smile as he nodded, "yeah, it's the right one. That was . . ."

Words failed him. There were no words for this. So he placed the book on the corner of his desk and stepped over to pull her into a hug.

"I can't believe you did that," he whispered huskily against her hair, "thank you so much."

For almost a minute he held her close to his chest, but it wasn't the first time he'd done that.

Emily was a hugger . . . he'd discovered that after New York when she'd nearly busted his ribs the morning after he'd been blown up . . . and she'd somehow turned him into a hugger too.

Of course just with her though. There wasn't actually anyone else . . . besides Jack . . . that he wished to share his personal space with on a regular basis.

So the hugging wasn't something new. But then he remembered that not only were they in the office . . . not the usual hugging locale . . . but the door was open.

And though just about everyone else had left at noon, there were some stragglers. And he'd probably passed the FBI standard of normal collegial thank you hugging about thirty seven seconds ago.

So he stepped back as he shook his head in disbelief, "I really can't believe you did that."

"Well, I could tell how important the book was to you," she smiled, "and it's Christmas so I thought you might like something special from Santa," her lip quirked up, "or one of his elves."

Thank God he liked it! This was part of her big grand gesture to show him how she felt, and if that had fallen flat she would have run out with her tail between her legs.

They stared at each other for a second . . . Hotch, as he often did, noting how pretty she looked in whatever color she was wearing . . . today it was blue.

And then suddenly something she said started to permeate his brain.

'It's Christmas . . . it's Christmas . . . it's . . .'

HOLY SHIT!!

His eyes popped . . . it's CHRISTMAS! It was Christmas Eve and Emily just handed him this unbelievable gift and he had absolutely NOTHING to give her in return!

Oh Jesus! He'd never felt like a bigger scumbag in his life!

What the hell was he supposed to do now!? Because he'd spent enough time with Emily to read her moods perfectly. And the way she was biting her lip, and the way her eyes kept bouncing away from his.

He knew . . . she was looking around the room, trying to see where her present was.

Hotch started to feel sick when he realized how badly it was going to hurt her feelings to know that he'd completely forgotten to buy her something. She bought him the most thoughtful gift he'd ever received, and he didn't even get her a lousy STARBUCKS card!

And THIS was the woman he was in love with! He flinched . . . what an ASSHOLE!

The problem was that he just didn't BUY presents! For twenty years Haley had done ALL the shopping! And Haley STILL did all the shopping. This year he had given her $500 and told her to get whatever she thought Jack would like for Christmas.

It's not that he didn't care what Jack got. Of course he cared.

That's why he gave Haley the money.

It saddened him to admit it, but he didn't know his son well enough to pick out a Christmas present for him.

And with Jack's needs being addressed, and no requirement to buy Haley any gifts this year . . . though he had remembered to take Jack to the store to let him buy his mother a robe and some bubble bath. . . there really hadn't been any 'shopping' done by him at all.

Emily stood there, feeling the seconds tick by, waiting for Hotch to give her a present. But then suddenly she took note of the expression on his face. Not perceptible to most people, but she could read the man like the morning news and there was a little twitch above his brow and a slight quiver in his jaw.

He was in a complete panic.

And that's when she realized . . . he didn't have anything for her.

He didn't buy her a present.

Her face fell . . . oh.

Of course they'd never exchanged gifts before, and they'd had no understanding that they were exchanging gifts now, but still . . . she tried to rapidly blink away the moisture forming in her eyes . . . she had assumed he would get her something. And now she felt incredibly hurt.

And stupid.

She bought him this really expensive present and he didn't get her ANYTHING. Not that she thought he was being a jerk, Hotch never bought presents for anyone. That just wasn't something he ordinarily did. Even when JJ had Henry, he just gave Emily his credit card and she bought something from the whole team.

And of course it wasn't the money that bothered her either.

That didn't matter.

What mattered was that she'd made a fool of herself. Obviously she'd completely misinterpreted their relationship. They'd been spending so much more time together lately, really since their twin traumas last spring and summer, that she'd thought maybe they were moving . . . scratch that . . . that they HAD moved . . . to a new plateau. That she was now important enough to him that . . . like her . . . he'd want to buy her something to show his affection.

Her eyes dropped down to the floor . . . obviously not.

Seeing the flash of hurt and embarrassment on Emily's face, Hotch felt like someone jammed a poker in his heart.

Oh Christ . . . he'd really hurt her feelings!

Of course he had two seconds ago concluded that him forgetting to buy her a present would theoretically hurt her feelings. But the theoretical just didn't come close to the reality of seeing that expression on her face and knowing that he'd put it there.

And for a second he debated whether he should lie and tell her the present was at home or if he should tell her the truth and say that he forgot.

His answer came from Emily herself as she whispered, "um, I guess I'll just go back to my desk now."

And look up Dr. Kevorkian's website to figure out how I can put myself out of my misery.

Hotch knew then that he couldn't tell her the truth . . . that he'd completely forgotten . . . so he settled on a half truth. As she turned away, he reached over and touched her shoulder as he said softly, "I'm sorry, I know it's terribly late but I didn't get shopping yet. I sort of lost track of time."

That last part was actually true. Haley was taking Jack to her mother's so he wouldn't be seeing his son until two days after Christmas. He'd only agreed to the trip because Haley said he could have Jack for the whole week if he'd let her go away for the actual day.

Even though it was hard to lose him for Christmas, a full seven days with his son was something Hotch just couldn't turn down. He'd even taken the team off rotation to ensure uninterrupted time.

But because he wasn't seeing Jack for Christmas, he just hadn't been feeling at all festive.

Basically he'd been avoiding any conscious thought of the day.

Emily immediately pasted on a bright . . . if slightly watery . . . smile, "oh that's . . . really Hotch, I wasn't expecting any . . ."

Oh God, where's a pool of quicksand when you need one?

But he cut her off with a squeeze of her arm as he said remorsefully, "no really, I'm so sorry I don't have anything for you right now."

'THINK AARON, THINK!'

Suddenly a thought came flying at him and he blurted out, "are you busy later?"

Now he was totally winging it, but a vague idea was forming in his mind of a way to fix this. Not only to fix it, but to do what he should have done awhile ago. Because it was obvious from her reaction that he had indeed interpreted her note correctly.

That was one hell of a token of her affection.

Her eyes slowly came back up, "uh, yeah, I was going to finish um," she cleared her throat, "wrapping."

'The only person I finished wrapping for was for the man I'm in love with who apparently forgot to buy me a Christmas present,' she thought sadly.

She seriously needed to leave before she started balling.

"Well," he slid his hand down to squeeze her fingers, "could I stop by later?"

Please say yes! That look on her face was killing him and he needed to fix this today.

She knew that he was trying, but she didn't want to be completely pathetic. It wasn't getting a gift that mattered, it was the idea behind GIVING the gift.

And he had no thought at all of giving her anything. So she shook her head as she said quietly, "um, I don't think I'll be home."

As lies went that was about the most transparent one that she'd ever uttered. Especially given that two seconds ago she told him she had wrapping to do.

He gave her a pained smile, "oh, okay. Well, then I guess I'll catch up with you after the holiday, all right?"

God, she's trying so badly to avoid him that she forgot that two seconds ago she said that she'd be home.

His sense of self worth took another nose dive.

Emily checked her watch, and then she looked down at their joined hands, staring at them as she cleared her throat again, "well, I guess I should get going."

They had called skeleton at noon but she'd stayed around until Hotch got back from his meeting. Now she was ranking that as one of the worst decisions of her life.

It would have been so much better if she'd just asked him later if he liked his gift. Then she wouldn't have had to stand here trying not to cry and feeling like an utter fool.

Hotch felt a simultaneous tug on his hand and his heart as she slipped her fingers from his.

God, what had he done?

As she started towards the door he called out softly, "that was really an incredibly thoughtful present Emily. Thanks again."

Like another thanks was going to make it all better. But unfortunately his gratitude was really all he had to give her at the moment.

She nodded, but didn't look back. And then he heard a slightly husky, "right," before she disappeared through the open door.

Hotch watched her go down the stairs with a knife twisting in his heart. Not only had he hurt her . . . which was just horrendous . . . but he could also see that he'd potentially screwed up the potential for anything more with her.

It figures, for over a month he's been trying to get the balls to tell her how he felt. And then she beats him to the punch with a CLEAR gesture on her behalf, and he totally fucks it up.

Not only did it look like he wasn't interested in pursuing anything, but he also . . . on a very base level . . . looked like a CLASS A JACKASS!

He turned back to his desk and grabbed a pad of paper and a pen.

It was obvious that she was lying about being home tonight so he was going over there. And just like Santa . . . he began to scribble . . . it was time to make a list.

/////

Emily sighed as she slapped a bow on the box holding her father's annual Christmas tie. For the last two hours she'd been listening to Christmas music and wrapping presents. She really wasn't feeling particularly Christmasy though.

Honestly, she wanted to go to bed and pull the covers over her head. But instead she was making a half assed effort to throw herself into the holiday spirit. After all, it was Christmas Eve, and it was dumb to let herself get so down over something so . . . so . . . tears started to burn her eyes . . . silly.

Crap.

She sniffled and wiped the corners of her eye. Okay, maybe it wasn't silly. She was nursing . . . if not a totally broken heart . . . a majorly cracked one.

But you can't force someone to love you. And just because she liked him that way didn't mean that he liked her that way. Obviously as far as he was concerned they were just friends and he wasn't looking for anything more.

And that was fine . . . she slid a few more presents she'd just wrapped under the tree . . . well . . . she sniffled again . . . she supposed it was fine. Friendship was better than nothing.

But she'd been SO sure that there was more between them!

Apparently not.

Oh well . . . she went over and got another tissue for her leaky eyes . . . better to find out now before she'd made a bigger ass out of herself.

She'd only bought him a one of the kind, first edition autographed copy of the book his dead father read him as a young boy.

She rolled her eyes . . . yeah, he won't think twice about that!

For a moment she stood in the kitchen in her flannel PJs and fuzzy slippers debating about going back to wrap another present, or getting a glass of wine first. Then she went another way completely and decided on cocoa.

With a shot of whiskey.

Just as she was filling the tea kettle she heard a knock on the door and her eyes dropped down to her outfit . . . eh, screw it.

It was Christmas Eve, if her visitor couldn't appreciate some festive Rudolph pajamas then that was his/her problem.

But then she checked the keyhole and her eyes widened . . . Hotch!

What was he doing here?! She'd told him she wouldn't be home tonight!

Then she remembered how pathetic that lie was and she realized that he'd seen right through it.

Her eyes snapped down and ran the length of her body again. And then she saw her outfit in a whole new way.

Frumpy. Not festive.

And she was about to run upstairs to change when she remembered that he didn't have any feelings for her, so dressing up for him was a pointless waste of time.

Her outfits could be practical and warm rather than sexy or cute.

With that thought in mind, she pulled the front door open and gave him what she hoped wasn't too pathetic a smile, "hey, what are you . . .?"

But before she could get the whole question out he'd leaned in and kissed her.

And for a second, all thoughts left her mind as she felt his soft lips pressed urgently against hers.

Then one thought came back to her . . . holy crap! Hotch was KISSING her!

Plus . . . his hand fell to her waist as he pulled her in closer and slid his tongue tentatively past her lips . . . it was a real kiss. Not a quick hello kiss, or anything approaching a platonic brotherly thing.

Her fingers involuntarily fisted in the front of his wool jacket . . . this was NOT a kiss she'd give to Reid or Morgan!

And it was going on forever!

When oxygen started to become a factor, Hotch slowly pulled back, giving Emily one more quick buss on the lips before he pulled away completely, slightly breathless. His hand lingered on her hip a moment longer before he pulled that away too. And then his lips twitched at the look on her face.

Dumbstruck.

Well, at least he was off to a good start. But he wasn't done yet. He was going to make this up to her, and he was going to make it clear that he felt the same way she did.

His son might be 2000 miles away, and he might have stomped on Emily's poor little heart less than six hours ago, but they were going to have a Merry Christmas if it fucking killed him!

As Emily gaped at him, he gently backed her up so that he could step inside and shut the door. She hadn't actually invited him but he was pretty sure from the kissing back that he was welcome.

And if not, well, she could shove him back out the door in a minute.

Emily blinked, coming back to her senses as a shy smile spread across her face. Then she whispered, "what was that for?"

Okay, that was definitely his best hello yet!

"It was a Christmas present," he shot her a dimple, "sorry it wasn't wrapped."

She felt a slight blush climb her cheeks, and then she realized that she was still staring at him like an idiot and she remembered her manners.

"Can I take your coat?"

Hotch took off his jacket, slipping Emily's present and card from his pocket before he handed the snow dampened wool to her.

He saw her eyes light up as they followed the gold paper, and he knew that things were still on track.

When Emily came back from the coat closet she headed into the kitchen, calling over her shoulder, "I was just making some cocoa. Would you like a cup?"

Even though her heart was pounding, and just about every place he'd touched her was still tingling, her voice almost sounded normal to her ears.

Years of diplomatic training did occasionally come in handy in real life. Because she'd just decided at the coat closet that the best approach here was to pretend like Hotch showing up on Christmas Eve and greeting her at the door with an incredible kiss hello, was not at all an act worthy of special commentary.

After all, what if it was just a mistletoe type kiss? Though she didn't actually think that's what it was at all, it seemed prudent to play it cool until she figured out what was going on. She'd already made one gigantic declaration today that had . . . at the time . . . fallen completely flat.

So if he now had something to say to her then she'd let him say it at his own pace rather than pushing the issue.

Hotch, not normally one for hot chocolate, actually thought that sounded like a fine idea. Basically he would have agreed to anything she asked though . . . he was trying to make her happy again . . . so he nodded and said, "please," as he followed her into the kitchen.

He waited until she'd put the kettle on and turned back to him before he held out the items in his hand, "present first, then card," he instructed.

It was very important that she open them in that order.

Her expression softened as she stepped closer to him, "you know you really didn't have to do this," she gave him a knowing look, "I know you forgot and it's okay. I know you don't do presents usually and we hadn't talked about exchanging gifts."

He shook his head vehemently, "Emily I didn't forget you, I just didn't really remember the day," he paused as he saw the confusion on her face and he realized that statement wouldn't make much sense to her.

They were blaring Christmas music out of every speaker in North America. Not to mention there were freaking Santas and Frosties hanging in every storefront in town.

She wasn't going to understand how he could just "forget" Christmas.

So he started again with a sigh, "this is the first Christmas since Jack was born that I won't see him at all, and I was just kind of putting it out of my mind," he rolled his eyes, "of course intellectually I KNEW it was Christmas, I just wasn't giving the day any thought at all . . ." he paused for a second, "it was easier," then he shook his head, "but that's not right, I was just thinking about making things better for me. And I of course never meant to hurt your feelings by making you think that I didn't care about you," he gave her a soft smile, "because I do care," he caressed her cheek, "very much."

Seeing her eyes start to get shiny, he gestured down to the package, "and hopefully that will show you just how much."

He could have just blurted out the words, but quite frankly he was afraid that after what happened earlier that she might not necessarily believe him right away. Because really, the last thing he wanted to do was tell the woman he loved her and then have to argue the case.

That would be embarrassing and awkward.

And embarrassing and awkward did not add up to romantic. So he figured some tangible evidence of his level of affection was a better way to start.

Emily sniffled as she looked down at the two items in her hand . . . present first, then card.

Well . . . she shot him a quick grin as she went over to the counter . . . her day had certainly taken an interesting turn. She put the card down before sliding the paper off the gift.

A jewelry box.

Oh . . . her already watery eyes began to pool . . . never let it be said that Aaron Hotchner didn't know how to apologize in style.

And then she opened the little black velvet square, biting her lip when she saw what was inside.

She looked up at him in wonder, "how did you . . .?"

He smiled, "I listen when you talk Emily."

Two months ago they were out in Salt Lake City conducting an interview with a rape victim's family. And as they were leaving the front yard Emily stopped and literally smelled the roses. And then she'd given him a sheepish smile as she told them that they were her favorite flower and if she ever bought a home in the suburbs it would only be so she could have her own rose garden.

So after his colossal fuck up this afternoon he'd called around to every jewelry store in the metro area until he found one that sold a rose pendant. It was an American beauty made out of tiny rubies and emeralds.

It was quite elegant, if he did say so himself. And it's not like he'd crafted the thing so he figured he could say so.

He reached over and took the necklace out of the box and she lifted her hair so he could work the clasp.

"There," he straightened the chain, "perfect,"

Emily only held back for one more second before she threw her arms around his neck as her voice cracked, "thank you," she murmured against his neck, "it's beautiful."

It was the best Christmas present she'd ever gotten.

He rubbed her back before he said softly, "not as beautiful as you," then he leaned back and gave her a little smile, "you have to open your card now," he winked, "might be something good in there too."

She smiled at him as she wiped the corner of her eye, "like a lottery ticket."

Actually a million dollars wouldn't even begin to compare with what he had just given her. Though she was pretty sure what he just gave her was quite expensive in a dollar value as well. Perhaps even more than what she'd paid for his gift.

Not that it was a competition. But if it was . . . she fingered the delicate silver chain . . . she was kind of happy he was winning.

"Yes Prentiss," he said drolly, "like a lottery ticket," he picked up the card, "now here, why don't you see if you're going to be able to quit the FBI and move to Tahiti."

Emily chuckled as she took the card from his hand, slicing open the envelope before she slid the card out.

When she opened it she saw it was blank but for a few words. But as she read them the first tear slid down her face.

'You've become the light in my dark days. Spending time with you makes me happy, and if it's okay with you, I'd like a little more happiness in my life.'

Her fingers traced over the grooves of the house key taped next to the last word. When she looked up at him another tear ran down her face as she sniffed, "does this mean . . ."

It couldn't mean that . . . could it?

He was already nodding before she got the sentence out, "it does, my home is your home. You come and go as you please," he took the card out of her hand and placed it on the counter. And then he kissed her again before he whispered in her ear, "I love you," he heard her choke back a sob as he continued, "I've been wanting to say it for awhile now, but I didn't have the guts to open my mouth," he kissed her cheek before he pulled her into his arms and added softly, "you're braver than I am."

Though he wasn't sure it was obvious to her, he was absolutely terrified at that moment. He hadn't told a woman he loved her in twenty plus years. And it didn't matter how old you were, it was a scary feeling.

More so actually when you were older than younger. Your life was no longer stretching out in front of you full of possibilities for the future. If you screwed up a relationship at his age, there was no guarantee another wonderful, sweet person would come along and pick up the pieces.

His eyes started to sting . . . not like Emily had done when Haley left.

Emily started to cry as she clung to him, "I love you too, but I didn't allow myself to think you might feel the same way," she snorted, "I thought maybe I could get you to come over for dinner and we'd go from there," she kissed his neck, "but thank you for my beautiful present," then she said on a sigh, "and my key."

She couldn't believe he gave her a KEY to his apartment! That was . . . wow!

Yeah . . . his arms slipped around her waist as she rested her cheek against his dress shirt . . . she was definitely glad she'd lost this competition.

For a few minutes Hotch just held her, smelling the peppermint lotion that she'd begun wearing eleven days ago, and reveling in this wonderful moment that had come from both of them having thrown their cards on the table.

Next year was going to be so much better than 2008 . . . he kissed the top of her head . . . there was no doubt about it.

The whistle of the tea kettle suddenly broke the moment. And Emily leaned back and patted his cheek, "if you want to stay here with me tonight," she tipped her head as she said quietly, "I mean if it's not too soon, then I'll try and take your mind off Jack being away."

Though she certainly couldn't make him forget, she could think of a few ways to keep him busy.

And then she began to picture a few of those ways and her face started to get a little warm.

Stupid hormones.

Hotch shot her a dimple before he turned to shut off the kettle. Then he looked back and nodded, "I'd like that," he huffed, "I was planning on working tomorrow but," he winked at her, "your idea sounds much better."

He snorted to himself . . . Santa definitely got his Christmas list.

Her eyes popped at his announcement, and then she smacked his chest, "you were going to do PAPERWORK on Christmas Day!" she frowned, "why didn't you tell me that before? I would have invited you over."

Even if they hadn't had this obviously long overdue conversation, they could have still spent the day together. It made her sad to think that he would have been by himself tomorrow doing something so cold and depressing.

He gave her a sad smile, "ah, but then I would have had to open my cowardly mouth and tell you how I felt," his fingers clasped hers, "you can't spend Christmas day with a woman you're in love with and not get caught up in the moment."

For God's sake, there would have been mistletoe everywhere! He would have ended up pinning her against the wall . . . or worst yet, to the bed . . . and he still wouldn't have been able to get the words out.

He probably would have 'done something' and then run out like an idiot.

Really, if not for Emily's gift . . . and the terrible way that he'd hurt her and then needed to make amends . . . he never would have had the balls to tell her how he felt today.

Apparently there was a silver lining to being a Class A Jackass.

Her lip quirked up, "say that again."

She was never going to get tired of hearing it.

His lips twitched for a second before he sobered, "I love you Emily Jane," then he fingered the flannel of her top as he added in the same tone, "and I love your pajamas. Who is this? Rudolph."

She looked absolutely adorable.

Emily began to blush profusely as she giggled, "it is Rudolph," then she smirked, "I have Frosty ones too if you'd like to make comment on those now and get it out of the way."

Of all the outfits to be wearing during one of the best moments of her life. Flannel PJs with a little reindeer on them.

Well . . . she huffed to herself . . . at least they didn't have feet in them.

"Ooh Frosty," his eyebrows waggled, "kinky."

She burst out laughing as she slapped his chest and pushed him towards the living room, "go sit down you Frosty Freak! I'll bring you your cocoa."

It seemed like there should be some sort of transitional period from being friends to whatever they'd just become. But things still felt totally normal. Hotch was always more relaxed when they were alone together. So this was just them plus more.

"Actually," he gave her a hopeful smile, "can I go get my bag out of the car? It had just started snowing when I came in and so if I'm staying I might as well get my stuff."

Plus some other choice items he had in the car for her.

A grin spread across her face as she nodded enthusiastically, "of course you can go get your stuff. I'm the one that invited you to stay over."

"Thanks," he placed a quick kiss on her forehead before he turned, hurrying out the door as he called over his shoulder, "lock this door."

Emily stared after him with a little smile on her face. And then she went over and turned the deadbolt before she literally pinched herself.

She honest to God couldn't believe that this day had turned out the way it had. Even when she'd planned her own "grand gesture" she thought the best she'd get out of it was maybe a kiss and an agreement to have dinner.

Both would have made her deliriously happy.

But . . . she went over and began preparing their drinks . . . not only did she get multiple kisses and multiple hugs, but she got an 'I love you' and . . . she swallowed . . . a key.

Which reminded her . . . she placed the spoon on the counter and went over to the junk drawer . . . that was one gesture that required a reciprocal act.

She pulled out the little Washington Monument keychain and placed it on the counter.

It was the house key she gave it to her neighbor, Mrs. Weinstock, so she could water the plants when Emily was out of town.

But this key was now going to Hotch. She made a mental note to get a new one made after the holidays.

Emily picked up their mugs, bringing them over to the coffee table and placing them on her Christmas tree coasters. And then she looked around the room.

Her Christmas spirit had definitely come roaring back. The colored lights on the tree, all the shiny bows and paper sitting on the floor, the Christmas music coming from the CD.

She was practically floating.

But . . . she went over and turned off the music . . . she didn't want to wrap anymore presents tonight. And she didn't want to jump right into bed either. She wanted to make a nice, sweet Christmas Eve memory with him.

After all, it was only eight. They could watch a movie, snuggle on the couch and eat her leftover Chinese.

That sounded so much more appealing than sitting on the floor getting paper cuts.

Of course the presents still needed to be wrapped, but Hotch could help her finish up in the morning. And then she could stop by her parents in the afternoon and drop them off.

'Hmm,' she mused to herself as she went over to open her dvd cabinet, 'I wonder if Hotch would like to go to my mother's house.'

It's not like she was going to stay that long. Just presents and an early dinner.

But . . . she scanned the movie titles until she saw the one she wanted . . . he might feel a little weird given that he actually knew her mother in a professional capacity.

Well . . . she slipped the disc into the DVD player just as she heard the knock at the door . . . if he wanted to wait here he could.

Her lip quirked up as she suddenly pictured coming home every night to find him in her apartment.

That . . . she hurried over to let him back in again . . . would be the best.

Emily whipped the door open and then her eyes widened in surprise.

"What's all this?" she exclaimed as she stepped out of his way.

It looked like he'd robbed Santa Claus.

Hotch gave her a sheepish smile as he lugged the bags inside, "well, not to sound cocky, but I had high hopes for the key and the pendant so I figured I might be staying over tonight. And," he dropped the shopping bags over by the tree, as he called back over his shoulder, "I knew I couldn't let you wake up tomorrow and not have another present to give you," his lip quirked up, "so I did a little more shopping after I got the necklace."

He was pretty sure he spent about fifteen hundred dollars today. Almost a thousand on the pendant, and the rest was various and assorted items he picked up around the mall that he thought she might like.

Though he obviously wasn't much for shopping generally, he'd forgotten how nice it was to HAVE somebody to shop for. He'd been putting the day out of his mind because he had no reason to celebrate. But once he'd decided to completely bare his soul to her, a weight had lifted from his heart and he'd started feeling much more Christmasy.

The last minute crowds hadn't even bothered him.

And as he saw her eyes starting to tear up again he felt a surge of happiness that he'd been able to touch her that way.

Emily bit her lip as she looked down at all the wrapped packages in the bags. And then she looked back up at him, "I can't believe you did this. That's so sweet."

But of course beneath the hard shell, Hotch was a very sweet man . . . hence the falling in love thing . . . so this really shouldn't surprise her.

He was a catch.

And . . . her eyes crinkled . . . somehow she'd caught him before anyone else had.

Then suddenly her face fell as a thought came to her, "but wait, I don't have anything else for you," she pouted, "you won't have anything to open."

Damn it. It's not like she'd had a clue that this day would end the way it would, but still, somehow she felt like she'd screwed up.

Hotch winked as he leaned down to pick up his ready bag, "never fear," he began pulling out presents and sliding them under the tree, "Santa already came to my house and left a couple things under my . . . well, I don't have a tree, but he left them on the coffee table."

The gifts were from his family. His brother always sent something. And his mother . . . even though he told her she didn't have to . . . always sent him MANY somethings.

Plus Haley had picked up a few things for Jack to give him, so he actually had a decent little pile of his own presents to open.

Granted . . . he moved over to start unloading the items he bought for Emily . . . not nearly as many as Emily now had, but he'd just go slowly and then she'd think they were even.

Emily was beaming as she saw him tucking all the present around the tree, "okay then! We're going to have a real Christmas!"

And to that end, as soon as Hotch stood up again she caught his hand and tugged him towards the couch, "come on and sit down with me," she hit the overhead lights as they crossed the living room, "I want to watch my favorite Christmas movie."

His lip quirked up as they settled on the couch and she leaned over him to turn on the lamp, "and which movie would that be?" he asked in amusement as her lovely breasts were shoved in his face.

Settling back in beside him, Emily shot Hotch a grin as she picked up the remote, "only the best Christmas movie ever."

His brow rose in curiosity as he looked towards the screen. And then he smiled as he saw the opening scene, "excellent choice," he said enthusiastically.

She smiled as she pulled the blanket over to put in her lap, "thanks. I'm glad you approve."

Of course it was a classic. So she'd been pretty sure that he'd d be on board with her chosen film for the evening.

He wrapped his arm around her shoulders, and then he sighed as George Bailey appeared on the screen.

It's a Wonderful Life.

Bedford Falls. A gentle world where good things happened to good people. Where neighbors looked out for each other, and at the end of the day, the working class chump who sacrificed everything somehow got the girl of his dreams.

He'd always believe it was a fantasy.

But for today at least . . . his expression softened as he felt Emily tip her head over to his shoulder . . . he believed the fantasy.

As George pulled his brother from the icy water, Hotch leaned down and whispered in her ear, "merry Christmas Emily."

She reached over and intertwined their fingers as she whispered back.

"Merry Christmas Aaron."


A/N 2: Kavi's general idea which I stole with permission, (which is the only acceptable way to steal somebody's thoughts) was to write a story where Emily gets Hotch a Christmas present, he forgets to get her one, she's hurt, but he makes it up to her. So this was MY version of that idea. And it was such a good idea my brain ran off down the street before I could even stop it. I guess it's sort of a similar set up to Girl, with them becoming close friends after their early season traumas. So this would be the version of that idea that wrapped in one chapter rather than 140!

I hope you're all happy, Emily got yet ANOTHER pair of pajamas! I feel like I should do a subsection on my profile highlighting all chapters featuring Emily's sleepwear :)

As I said, this is a one shot. It's done. But if I get any story ideas for a Christmas Day scene I might write a companion piece in the same world. It would save me starting from scratch writing a new version of their relationship :)

Random pimping of other authors: Chiroho already put up one hilarious Christmas prompt story that you should definitely check out. His story is all from Hotch's POV and I'll be writing a companion piece from Emily's POV. And remember that Chiroho is new to writing CM fic so if you like what you see (and you want his CM muse to stick around!) then don't forget, the nicest cyber gift this season is a little bit of feedback ;)

Also, Arcadya and Moonraven2 both are in the midst of wonderful AU fairytale stories. Totally different stories and styles and they're both so good :) I'm sorry I can't think of anyone else to push right now but I've mentioned before, I hardly read anything anymore! And the little bit I do read is always prompt related so I can only pimp what I know :) But you can subscribe to our challenge forum if you want to get notified of any of the great Christmas or AU stories that have been going up lately.

I have Gingerbread and Wrinkle going up tomorrow. They're done, I'm just too tired to put them up tonight. Last night I fell asleep reading over this and ended up weirdly, and painfully, contorted on the couch. There was numbness and bad tingling. Not fun. And I'm too old to sleep like a pretzel two days in a row. So I'll rest up and we'll meet back here tomorrow kids :)