Author's Note: Another one-shot that I couldn't get out of my head. I hope you all enjoy it. Many thanks to my co-author and beta tonnie2001969 for her patient counsel. And thank you to all the readers and reviewers out there. Knowing you take the time to look at my work is a priceless feeling. As ever, we don't own Criminal Minds. Thank you!
When Two Forces Collide
He'd known they were on a collision course from the first moment he'd laid eyes on her that long ago morning standing in the bullpen of the BAU. Her arched brow and flashing eyes had clearly been challenging him, questioning his skill, his prowess in and out of the field.
He'd found her captivating, although enigmatic, her quickly hooded eyes shielding him from her secrets. Secrets he was grimly determined to learn at his first available opportunity. Her long hair curving against her flawless alabaster skin had drawn his eyes to the graceful slope of her neck, leading him to dream of what he'd not yet seen. But, then, his imagination had provided some pretty amazing details.
He'd been back within the Bureau's sanctified confines exactly thirty seconds, and already plans had pervaded his mind on how exactly to acquire the attentions of one very smart, highly intuitive Emily Prentiss.
Days, then months, passed. Each slowly passing hour of each torturously passing week only serving to gradually tantalize him further, ratcheting his desire higher every time he caught a glimpse of her. She'd been riveting and he, the consummate player, had been unable to look away. She possessed the best of both worlds, a mesmerizing blend of tempting woman and sometimes childlike uncertainty. He watched her doubt herself and determinedly fight her way through it. He watched her become vulnerable in one instant and then quickly camouflage the slip with stoic professionalism. He saw her eyes soften on the children they saw, fairly glowing with the urge to be a mother. And just as quickly, he'd seen them harden with diamond-like intensity on the filth they chased after, their laser-like focus enough to reduce some to ashes with a mere look.
But even after days upon days of watching, waiting...and, at times, outright stalking, her… he still hadn't been prepared to admit to himself that he'd fallen in love again. No, that had happened when he'd watched her standing outside, snowflakes falling over her, disillusioned and as alone as he'd ever seen anyone, ever. He'd known then. Undeniably and irrevocably, the die had been cast, forever coloring his world.
And then he'd damned himself to every level of hell. Because while it had been fine to desire her...to yearn for her...loving her was something she didn't deserve and he'd never planned to do. Subjecting her to the trauma that always resulted in his relationships made his heart clench. He'd shown an overwhelming tenacity over his long years on earth for destroying people that he loved. And after her battle with the deranged priest, her doubts concerning her devotion to her religion and the presence of the outright demons that still haunted her, he didn't want to allow himself to hurt her any more than she already had suffered.
As it turned out, loving her wasn't a decision he could control, try though he might have. But each day, he was drawn inexorably into her sphere, often being partnered with the undeniably beautiful agent in their searches to rid the world of evil in human form. If his suddenly changed demeanor affected her, he hadn't noticed it, her outward exterior never showing a chink or chip. But then, Emily Prentiss had endured years of being forced to camouflage her true feelings, her years of being forced into the political arena with her parents training her well.
It wasn't until he'd found her silently crying behind Aaron's house the afternoon of Haley's death that he'd allowed the shell he'd built around himself to crack, her soft sobs battering the defenses he'd erected to protect them both from feelings neither could afford for him to act on. Pulling her into his arms as her soft sobs fell against his neck was a reaction he hadn't been able to control. He had tried to ignore the feel of her slender body resting against his, her curves perfectly molded to him as if they had each been created on the same press. He'd tightened his jaw when her arms had crept around his neck and she'd burrowed her face underneath his chin, as if his arms had been sheltering her for years rather than moments.
And that quickly, the careful balance he'd spent valuable time perfecting over the past several months shifted precariously, and he stood on the precipice, dangerously clinging to his control. And then those dark eyes that had spent over a year entrancing him had been staring up at him, open and unguarded, void of their usual defenses. And he'd been incapable of releasing her.
Backing her against the house as his lips had claimed hers for the first time with the pent-up passion of over of a year's worth of repressed longing, he'd known he wasn't the only one in over his head. Her embrace proved that she'd been denying herself as well, her need as great as his own.
And two years later, that need between them had only grown. Along with the love. And the devotion.
And as he stood waiting beside Hotch in front of an altar for the fourth and final time in his life, watching her slowly make her way toward him, he finally knew what happened when two forces of nature collided.