PROMPT: In the Midnight Hour (Grey's Anatomy)
Emily sat alone in her apartment on New Years Eve. It was her own choice, her own decision not to go out with Derek, Penelope and Kevin. She'd chosen to turn down JJ's invitation to spend the night ringing in the new year with her and Will. She'd even turned Dave down when he'd suggested a swanky club he usually picked to ring in the new year at. But Emily hadn't felt like being social and pleasant.
Still, she was terribly depressed. It was hard for her to just sit in her apartment alone. But, as stupid and clichéd as it sounded, the only person she wanted to ring in the New Year with was in no condition to be ringing in the new year with her. So instead, she was channel surfing, even turning to infomercials to try and hold her attention as the new year drew closer and closer.
It had been a rough year, and not even really for her. With Reid's anthrax scare, Foyet, her own case with the Catholic church and then their case in Canada, it had been tough. And that didn't even include the last six months and the hell Foyet had put them, most specifically Hotch, through. Which was why even though she really, above all else, wanted to spend her New Year with Hotch, she was sitting at home instead. He deserved uninterrupted time with his son more than anyone else deserved the chance to ring in the new year quietly.
That didn't necessarily make her feel any better. In fact, it arguably made her feel worse. Her feelings for Hotch weren't new by any stretch of the imagination. Things had changed drastically since their first less-than-warm reunion so many years ago and Emily had thought they were well on their way to developing more than a bone-deep friendship.
Then Foyet had screwed it all up.
And now, she was alone, on New Years. God, she was pathetic.
Her ears perked up at the knock on the door, but it was with a heavy sigh of resignation that she dragged herself out from underneath the throw she'd tossed over her body as she waited for the New Year. Emily grumbled as she made her way to the front door, not caring in the slightest about what the person on the other side would think of her pajamas. She was moping. Her guest could suck it up.
Of course, she didn't expect her guess to be the same man she'd been thinking about for the last couple of hours. A bemused smile touched her face as she opened the door.
"What are you doing here?"
Hotch had thought long and hard about his actions before he packed Jack up. He wasn't about to leave his son by himself and Jessica, upon ensuring that Hotch had no plans and would be home with Jack the whole night, had gone out to celebrate the new year herself. Not that he really cared, but Jack hadn't been happy about being woken. The little boy had no idea what his father's actions meant.
But Hotch did and it was all Dave's fault.
It was long after Haley's death – though long was probably a matter of definition – that Dave had come by his apartment, telling him that Haley, what he knew of her, wouldn't want Hotch to be living alone wallowing over her death. When Hotch had questioned the other man's motives, Dave's response had simply been that he didn't want Hotch to make the same mistakes he did, to let the greatest things in his life get away.
And according to Dave, that had included Emily.
Emily Prentiss, a woman he hadn't even really wanted around, and now she was probably a more permanent fixture in his life than he realized. She'd been the one who had been his rock after Foyet had pushed Haley and Jack into protective custody. She'd been his most steadfast friend throughout his own struggles and even when something bothered her, she shoved it aside to ensure that he was okay. Since Haley's death, she'd taken to checking on Jack as well, bringing him little toys and presents just because she loved to see the bright, childish smile that lit up his face. She'd been the one to pull him out of his funk more often than he realized.
His realizations regarding his raven-haired colleague had been numerous and overwhelming. For one thing, he'd realized how important she was to him, and not in the abstract way of a colleague. Emily meant almost too much to him to even think about, too much for him to consider when he had a young son and too much guilt on his shoulders. But that was another realization he'd made. Emily made the guilt seem less painful, less overwhelming. She made his dark world a little bit brighter.
But it had been, once again, Dave who had provided the catalyst for why he was standing in her doorway, his son asleep in his arms. Dave had called an hour before and asked him, flat out, if alone was how he wanted to celebrate the new year, if he really wanted to pass up an opportunity, if he wanted to let Emily slip through his fingers.
Hotch tried for a smile as he looked at Emily's confused face. "A little birdy mentioned you were alone tonight," he said. "No one should be ringing in the New Year by themselves."
She stepped back and he entered her apartment, swiftly getting out of the way of the front door. She still seemed bemused by the fact that he was currently standing in front of her. Still, her smile was soft as she reached up and stroked Jack's head.
"Come on, he can sleep in my bed."
Once Jack was settled, both adults returned to the living room.
"Can I get you something to drink?" she asked quietly, keeping it down even though there was a floor and a door between her and his sleeping son. That was one of the things he really liked about Emily. She'd shown him time and time again that she was a compassionate, maternal influence. She was good with Jack, so good with him and she was a natural at it too.
"Just a glass of water is fine," he replied.
Emily still couldn't believe that Hotch was actually in her living room. She'd put two and two together and, with a roll of her eyes, had concluded that Hotch's birdy had a name. David Rossi. She couldn't believe that Dave had stepped in, just the same as she couldn't believe that Hotch had packed up Jack to come and ensure she didn't spend New Years alone. That kind of thing just didn't happen to her.
"Not that I don't appreciate you dropping by," she said as she handed him a glass of water, "but why come here? Jack was asleep at home."
"I told you," he replied. "No one should be alone on New Years. It totally null and voids the tradition of a New Years' kiss."
Emily felt heat sing through her blood at the implication and forced it away. There were a million ways to kiss on New Years and she most definitely didn't need to get her hopes up. Hotch was broken right now, on the mend, but still broken and Emily knew that it wasn't fair to lay on him her own feelings while the guilt of Haley's death hung over his head. She forced her lips to turn up.
"You certainly know how to proposition a girl."
His chuckle made the act worth it.
They settled onto the couch and Emily channel surfed. They chatted, every once in a while stopping on a particular channel and commenting on the program or commercial. Eventually, they came across the ball drop and Emily glanced at the clock. 11:58.
"Looks like it's almost midnight," she commented idly, setting the remote on the table in front of her. She was curled into the corner of the couch, her toes warm under his thigh as she leaned against the armrest. One of Hotch's hands held his water while the other had been idly stroking the flannel on her calf.
He smiled, a rare enough thing that Emily couldn't stop herself from smiling back. "Aren't you glad you won't be ringing the new year in by yourself now?"
She shook her head affectionately, but her smile grew. "I admit you aren't terrible company, Agent Hotchner."
"Neither are you, Agent Prentiss."
They laughed together, then turned their attention back to the TV. They were silent through the countdown, though Emily's pulse picked up. Yet, much to her surprise and disappointment, neither of them moved when the ball dropped. She waited a good five minutes before mentally sighing and standing. "You can take my bed since Jack's already there. I'll take the spare room."
He followed her when she stood, grasping her wrist before she could move too far away. Hotch stepped closer, his other hand drifting up to her shoulder, sliding up her neck until he cupped her jaw in his hand. Emily's hands moved of their own volition, coming to rest on his chest. His thumb stroked her cheek, his other hand moving to press against her lower back. It forced her to step closer and Emily's chest hitched as he leaned down.
She outright gasped when his mouth met hers, jumping at the contact out of sheer anticipation. He pulled away slightly, as if gauging her reaction, and when she didn't pull away, he leaned in again. This time his kiss held more purpose and Emily found her arms wrapping around his neck just to make sure her knees didn't give out beneath her. Hotch's kiss was slow and deliberate, sending heat throbbing through her blood. They eventually pulled away to catch their breath and he rested his forehead against hers.
"I have a resolution," he said, his voice quiet, dark, intense eyes holding hers.
Emily felt her breath catch in her throat, the same way it had the second before he kissed her. "Oh?"
"I don't want to waste any more time," he said. "Foyet, Haley… they taught me that life is too short. I can't keep waiting for things to change, I have to make the changes, I have to take the steps."
She swallowed thickly. "I think that's a good resolution," she whispered.
Hotch nodded once, curtly, his gaze still burning into hers. "And I know where I'm going to start."
I know this is late, but I found it on my HD and decided to finish it.
For those of you who follow, the April prompts are probably going to be up by the weekend and I should have both Fair Winds and Noche wrapped up in the next week! At least that's the goal....