*IMPORTANT* You know the episode Haunted? Where Prentiss walks Hotch up to his place. Well, I saw that episode the other night, and my imagination went in overdrive and well, here goes. Just a little story I threw together. What can I say? I'm a sucker for romance, even if I'm usually more partial to Morgan/Prentiss :D

For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.

Judy Garland.

"You didn't have to walk me up here, you know," Hotch says defiantly, pulling his gun from his side and putting it on the coffee table. I walk in just then and keep the door open halfway, unsure of whether to walk inside voluntarily or just to stay at my position. Hotch's back is turned, but he stands so tall and stern, and even from his body facing the opposite direction of me, I can see the loneliness that keeps him up at night glowing off of him. Strangely enough, I feel an aching feeling clawing it's way inside of me, at the pit of my stomach, and I know exactly what it is. It's such strong sympathy for him, and the sad realization of how alone he must truly feel. I decide that maybe he wants some company, though it's unlikely, and I shut the door behind me. I had no idea it'd shut so loudly though, and he whips around, almost to the point he startles me, and a look of relief overcomes him.

"Whoa," I put both hands in the air and say, "It's just me, sir, calm down." I say it so delicately, but I know he can hear the shock of his reaction so clearly in my tone. He lets out a heavy sigh and nods slightly, then makes his way over to the couch. The beige colored couch. The lonely couch. He looks like he's about to sit down, but he pauses, then makes his way to the fridge, opens it and grabs a beer. A beer. I'm surprised at this, and I can feel my eyebrows raising and my jaw drooping open melodramatically. I expected Hotch to be a scotch drinker, or a whiskey drinker, but a beer drinker? It's so down-to-earth, so casual. So unlike Hotch. He then sits down, puts his feet on the coffee table so comfortably, takes a large sip and then points the bottle at the fridge.

"You want one?" He offers, looking at me with such sincerity that I know his offer isn't a joke, he's being serious. I just gave the poor guy a heart attack and he's offering me a cold one from his six-pack, what a gentlemen. I take him up on his offer and make my way to his fridge and I take a seat on the tiny recliner on the other side of the table. I crack it open and sip, this particular brand of beer tasting bitter and I scrunch up my face without even realizing I'm doing it. He sees it right away and frowns. More than usual, that is.

"You don't like it?" His tone almost sounds deflated, like he's disappointed.

"No, it's not that," I defend quickly. "It's just...different than the brand I usually buy."

He grins at this. It's a light, nearly nonexistent grin, but I can still tell it's there. Like a flower peeping open only slightly, exposing just a little bit of itself at this time, you can still peek inside a little bit and see the beauty hidden beneath. His grin was like that; somewhere behind that almost nonexistent grin is a full-fledged smile that could light up a room. If only it'd bloom every once in a while. "What brand do you usually buy?" He asks.

I'm surprised he bothers pushing the topic, but I'm glad he is. To be honest, I couldn't picture many ways this time spent with him could go wrong, but sitting in an awkward silence would definitely be on the list. I start thinking of ways that I could mess this up and make it awkward, then Foyet comes to mind for some reason, and I stop thinking about it at all and focus solely on the beer topic. It's a much happier one. "Heineken." I reply simply and proudly, surprising myself when I take another sip without proper consideration. I should have, because the bitter taste returns and I make a scowling face at the bottle in disapproval.

This makes him laugh. Yes, I said it, laugh! He actually chuckles, takes another sip and swallows incredibly fast considering the dissatisfying taste and gives me a half-smile. Somehow, I know he's going to crack an actual smile, but it's like he's gotta wind up like a toy first; it's probably been so long, he's unprepared. Maybe he even forgotten how to smile, a real, happy smile. "Heineken's alright," He lifts his hand and sways it side to side in a so-so action, then clutches his beer with pride. "But Budweiser is the best."

I shake my head in disagreement. "No way, buddy," I have a smile heavy in my tone. I'm liking this conversation so far, it's light, it's airy, it's just fun. Once again, so unlike Hotch. Maybe the off-work Hotch is laid-back and easygoing. And maybe I'll be the first to see him that way. This makes me feel happy, for some unexplainable reason, and I smile at that thought. He thinks I'm smiling at the silliness of this argument, but it's actually from the conversation I'm having about him in my mind. "Heineken's the way to go."

"Who told you that? Morgan? I know Morgan's a Heineken fan too, and I've never been more disappointed in him then when I found that out."

"I didn't know Morgan drinks Heineken," I'm surprised at this. "I always thought he'd drink something more...I don't know, masculine? Like tequila shots."

He laughs again, and his smile gets bigger. And so does mine. "Never go bar-hopping with him, he's insane," He says between sips and chuckles. "He'll make you blow a week's paycheck over alcohol that tastes cheap but costs more than a month's car payment and gives you a hangover worth considering suicide."

I can't believe the words he's saying. He's actually being funny, and he's laughing, and teasing Morgan. Without Morgan being around to hear it. He's actually putting effort into this conversation. I smile again, feeling proud that he's opened up to me, and I raise the bottle of sucky beer. "Here here," I say, sitting up and outstretching my beer between us.

"What are we toasting to?" His chuckling stops but his half-smile stays firm. I'm glad.

"To alcohol."

He raises his bottle and moves it over until it's an inch away from mine. "I think we can put together a better speech then that, don't you think?" He insists, teasingly, and I can't stop myself from grinning.

"Fine, big shot, let's see what you can come up with." I volunteer him to make the speech. It was his idea after all.

He pauses and looks down at the coffee table for only a second, then pops his head back up, instantly formed with an idea for the speech. I don't expect it to be any good, it only took him a total of two seconds to think it up. But still, I'm interested in what he has to say. "To alcohol," He begins loud and proud, his voice changed to a deeper tone. I can't stop from laughing, and he laughs too. He stops immediately though, clears his throat and continues. Even with a drunken toast, he's taking it literal. "For helping you up when you can't stand up and for keeping you down when you don't want to." He scrunches up his nose and shoots me a look. "That's dumb, huh?"

I shake my head. "I wouldn't have said anything better."

Despite me saying that, he says, "You add something, then." Volunteering me this time.

I sigh and readjust myself, my bottle leaving my fingers cold and wet. "Fine," I sigh heavily and dramatically to stretch the fact that I don't feel like doing it. But he keeps his eyes on me, and I know he cares to listen. So I try and quickly think a good line up. But my hand and arms begin feeling sore from holding my beer up and stretched to him for so long, and I wonder if his feels as tired as mine. It begins to tingle slightly so I half-ass the line. Like it matters, anyhow?

"For helping you forget the things you'd rather not remember." I say it in a joking matter, but I can see his smile slowly fading into a distance, and his face hardens. I can see that particular line hit home for him. And he clinks his bottle against mine, making a sharp pinging noise and he chugs his beer. Hard. Like he wants the effects of alcohol to sink in right this very instant. He takes a few more long sips, until he wiggles the bottle and stares at the bottom, to see no liquid swooshing and it tells him he's on empty. And he stands up and heads for the fridge, grabbing one out right away, like it's oxygen and he needs it to survive. Maybe he does need alcohol to keep him standing. To keep him forgetting. I put my bottle of bitterly tasting piss water and walk over to him, resting my elbows on the counter.

"I didn't forward that to you," I say. He nods his head like he understands, but he can't respond, cause his mouth is full of beer. So I keep talking. I didn't want awkward silence as much as I didn't want to take another swig of that swamp in a bottle. "I didn't mean for you to take it personally."

A muscle flinches in his jaw and he swallows. I can see his face hardening again. "I'm not taking it personally." He says it so hard it startles me. I even flinch backward a little bit with the force of my surprise. So much for not taking it personally.

"You seem upset." I say outloud. I'm surprised I even say it, because I was hearing it in my head, but I didn't think I'd say it. I instantly wish I had grabbed my stuff and said, "I can see your having an off night, so I'll see you tomorrow, 'kay?" But I didn't. Instead, I pushed his buttons. And the flower that almost bloomed had just died.

"I'm not upset," He responds dully.

"You don't have to lie, or even pretend that your alright," The words come out so fast, regret following directly after each word, but I keep speaking anyhow. "It's okay to break down every once in a while."

He nods again, and his face softens. I exhale a breath of relief, afraid I had waken the sleeping dragon. But he seems calmer now. He puts his beer on the counter beside my arms and then puts his hands on it, just staring at the blah print on the counter, his mind lost somewhere. He wasn't all here, not tonight. Hotch's body was here, but his mind had left here a long time ago. Boldly, I walk behind the counter and stand beside him, that when I stretch my arms out on the counter, I can feel his button-up white work shirt graze my arm. I can hear his steady breathing, so softly. Inhale and exhale through his nose.

"You alright?" I whisper, knowing I'm way too close to speak any louder than a step above mute.

He just nods again. I put my hand on his shoulder, and his body flinches. Not enough to back away, but I can tell I shocked him. I even shocked myself. But I don't pull away. I was thinking that, maybe, I could reach him. I thought I had been reaching him earlier. "Are you okay?" I repeat, this time slightly quieter, and slower, softer, too.

He doesn't nod. "Hm?" I mumble. His eyes leave the counter and face mine. He stares into mine, and it's like I can feel his unhappiness absorb me. Just looking into his eyes, it's like I'm looking into his soul, his mind, his thoughts at this very moment in time. How truly alone he must feel. And how truly alone he must be. This makes the aching feeling return, and I almost feel like crying for him. He doesn't try to shove my hand away or even tell me to back up, he just stares at me. Like he knows I can see his pain. Like I can fix him. And the doubt that fills my head and makes me think I can't, saddens me. But I can't leave him now. I think he's finally reaching out to me. Silently. And that's okay with me. Sometimes actions speak louder than words. Sometimes words can't even describe what your going through or how your feeling. Sometimes words just aren't enough. In Hotch's case, I believe that to be true.

He lowers his face to the floor, and I raise my hand to his cheek. It feels really warm. My hand must be freezing from the beer bottle. I realize this when he flinches, then relaxes. "You can talk to me about anything, you know that?" I whisper, pulling my face closer to his ear. I realize then how uncomfortably close I'm becoming to him, but I don't flinch or back away. I don't even want to, and that's most shocking of all.

He shakes his head slightly. "I can't tell you just anything," He whispers back, a hint of his stern boss tone laced with it. "I work with you, we're on the same team, it'd be weird if we just-"

I pull my face away from his shoulder and make him look at me. His eyes lock into mine instantly and I know I've reached him. "No," I reply back sternly. "Forget about work, we're not at work right now. We're just here." I let my hand fall from his cheek to my side. "It's just you and me right now."

He doesn't respond. But for some reason, he looks sadder than before.

"Hey," I lift his face again and his frown looks lower. My tone softens and I let him know he can trust me. I'm hoping he can see the sincerity in my eyes. "I'm not going to run away, you know."

The corner of his mouth rises a little, and I can see he almost smirks, but it fades. He pulls his face closer and our noses touch. Not bumping together, but they graze across. "I thought everyone's afraid of me." He says it with a soft laugh, but I can tell there's truth to his words. And I think that makes him sad. At least, it seems like that right now.

I bring my hand to his neck and then a second later, my other hand rises to the other side of his neck, and his hand is placed on my waist, inching me closer. He inhales and exhales on me he's so close. "I'm not." I whisper almost inaudibly, and he inches me until my belt buckle is brushing against his and my gun is jabbing him in his side and our lips tickle each other's until we lock them together seamlessly. They match together perfectly, the perfect amount of warmth and softness embrace me, and I can just tell he feels it too. While we kiss, I try and think how we got here, in this moment. And I realize how insane this is, and it makes me want to giggle. But I don't. I grab onto the collar of his shirt and pull him closer, as if that were possible, his chest hard against mine. I wonder how someone like Hotch could kiss so well. It's just one of those things you don't expect him to be good at. Or even picture him doing. I remember one day when Hotch was late for work, which has only happened a total of two times since I've been at the BAU, Morgan made a comment that he was probably having early morning sex with Hailey. Reid then chimed in and said that he'd rather not picture Hotch doing that, and Garcia added that she couldn't even picture Hotch getting it on, and Gideon surprisingly agreed. Somehow, we found ourselves all sitting there, trying to picture Hotch having sex. It was a twisted idea, but we couldn't help it. Even Gideon, who told us to cut it out and act mature, still sat quietly in the corner, his eyes focused on nothing in particular, his thumbs beating a slow rhythm together which he only did when he was deeply buried in his thoughts, and we all knew he was trying to picture it, too.

Now suddenly, the idea of Hotch having sex doesn't seem absurd. It actually seems kind of sexy to me. Then I feel ashamed for picturing me sleeping with my boss. But the idea still doesn't disgust me, and the deeper our kiss gets, the more the thought appears. And then I feel slutty, and I find myself giggling. Outloud, this time. And he pulls away from me and groans a little.

"Your laughing?" He whispers to my lips, his eyes still sealed shut.

I shake my head, but I'm still laughing. I begin untying his tie, and then pull it out from under his shirt collar and toss it to the other half of the apartment, and he gives me a look.

"What was that for?" He asks, sincerely curious.

"You don't always have to have one on." I respond honestly.

"Yeah, I know," He looks back at the tie like I just threw his puppy into the street. "But I feel naked without it."

He blinks at me innocently and I laugh again. Hotch is actually cute. I hadn't noticed this before. And then there it is. He smiles. A full-fledged smile, like a flower blooming below the sunshine on a beautiful Spring day.