A.N: Ok so I didn't like how I started off the first chapter so I thought hey I can redo it. Weather or not its any better I'll let you be the judge but I hope so. Therefore the whole thing is getting a redo but I want to thank everyone who reviewed, alerted and added to favorites and never fear it will be finished it'd take some time doing so but it will be finished. And it may seem a bit weird I know when it was sent out it said Chapter two but hopefully it will all work out. And now on with the new show.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Knowing when the end came
July TV challenge
Prompt- Private Practice: The end of a beautiful friendship
Cold stone under his ass, equally cold wind blowing around him and yet he sat there his heart and soul feeling just as empty and frigid as his bitter surroundings. Searching for answers to questions his mind would cooked up to torture him and in some cases to give him something to do. Memories fading in and out of his minds eye of the day he wasn't fast enough, the day he came home to emptiness and the day he knew when everything went to hell.
Seeking the quiet solitude of the cemetery letting it seep into his tired aching soul trying to come to terms with the past yet never quite finding that elusive peace. He sat running over everything to many times to count punishing himself for the wrongs he'd done.
"I'm sorry Hail's," he quietly said leaning forward his elbows braced on his knees. "For all the missed anniversaries, birthdays and holidays. For all the time I wasn't there for you and Jack. I wish…" he shook his head over come with one memory.
He just came home from Mississippi another brutal case he wanted to wipe from his mind though knowing that only time would accomplish that feet, he dropped his brief case beside the coffee table, keys on top and loosened his tie. Checking his answering machine a fruitless task given the fact that most called his cell but a habit ingrained in him. His eye catching the note lying neatly beside the infernal piece of technology Haley's handwriting scrawled across the small piece of paper.
Don't forget about Thursday Aaron. You know Jack won't take his pictures unless your there. Five o'clock Potomac Mall please don't forget.
Looking at his watch a string of curses fell from his lips while he made quick work of his suit jacket, tie and shirt on his way towards the bathroom. He knew damn well he wouldn't make it on time given the fact that it was already ten after four and the mall was a good thirty minutes away in good traffic but that didn't mean he wouldn't try.
Haley stood foot taping on the linoleum floor arms crossed over her chest impatience showing on her face Jack sitting next to her his plastic blue race car keeping him company. She spotted him first rushing in hair still wet from a shower rumpled t-shirt and jeans incasing his body a deep weary sigh leaving her lips.
He stopped, but she held up a hand to stall any words he may have said, "Later right now Jack."
Aaron nodded greeting his son with a big hug and whispered words that he missed him and loved him no matter what. The sight tugged at her heart but only slightly she was getting over the past the quicker the better or so she thought as she watched father and son interact while the photographer snapped away. Smiles gracing Jack's face as Aaron made funny faces and noises her heart clenched at the sight missing the simple times in their lives before…
Haley shook her head times had changed they hadn't been a family for over a year she was moving on she had to move on even if it ripped out her heart in the process.
Half an hour later Aaron stood beside Haley's dark blue Odyssey as she belted Jack in giving him his race car and closing the door behind her.
"Hail's I'm sorry…" Aaron began watching as she took such good care of their son.
A deep bone weary sigh escaped her as she turned to face her ex-husband, "Save it please Aaron it's been a long day for all of us. The pictures are taking care of that's all that matters."
"Understood," he admitted with a brief shake of his head, defeat in his posture, "but still I'm sorry it took so long. The case…"
She held up a hand, "I don't need to hear about your work. Just…" she paused running a frustrated hand through her short blond locks wondering when things became so complicated. "Just call next time when you can't make it or running late."
"Right," came his only reply as he glanced at Haley seeing the strain in her stance and eyes. "If you want I can take Jack tomorrow. The team is on stand down for the next few days."
He knew she loved Jack that she wouldn't trade him for nothing in the world, but stress always did get the best of her and even if they weren't together he would, in the brief times he could, lighten the load on her shoulders if she let him.
"Jack would love that thank you Aaron," she answered turning from him to walk around the van and slip into the driver's seat.
Aaron waited till she turned the key and started the motor, watched as the clear glass slide down and he could hear Jack asking for ice cream.
"Later Jack," she answered her son before turning her attention towards him. "Noon would be all right I'll have Jack ready."
Aaron nodded and watched as she backed out and drove away.
Hotch blinked to clear the cobwebs his memories created. "I knew that day I'd lost so much more than just our marriage I'd lost our friendship to. Foyet only compounded the situation farther. I wasn't blind when you came to see me in the hospital that afternoon the accusations in your eyes the blame and fear radiated off you in waves. I wish now that our lives had been different."
Sitting up he ran a stiff hand through his hair the cold having yet to seep into his bones though it all ready incased his heart.
"I'm sorry Haley truly and deeply sorry," he whispered eyes staring at the tiny green marker where her grave stone would sit once finished.
He never heard her light steps till she spoke, "You miss her?"
Pulling Esther to a stop beside the curb Penelope reached into the passenger seat and grabbed the bouquet of light pink roses and white mums then exited her beloved car wrapping her arms, clothed in a light green sweater, around her body to starve off the chill. Slow sure steps carried her towards her friend's last resting place thinking how it shouldn't be. Haley was too young with so much life left to live, a son to raise and family that still needed her.
She could still remember the first time she'd met Haley having only been with the BAU for a few weeks still feeling out of place in a world filled with conformity, drab colors and no sense of humor well except for Derek Morgan that is. A chance meeting of two people who couldn't be more opposite and yet the same, one evening when Haley had been waiting for Aaron to get finished they'd struck up a conversation, swapped numbers and formed a bond that lasted until the day she was taken away for good.
"I miss you Haley," Penelope whispered to herself as she weaved in and out of tombstones and trees trying not to slip into any holes or over any roots.
She slowed her steps and looked up seeing a figure sitting on the cold cement bench, slumped forward. Recognizing the dark form in a long sleeved black shirt and jeans she hesitated not wanting to intrude in a private moment she was sure was taking place. But something about his posture, the bend of his shoulders, the weary note she could see emanating from him even with the distance that she still had to cover told her that this man was and would for a while grieve.
Taking another deliberate step she gained the courage to press on knowing he needed someone and by what ever power she was put here at this time and place to be that shoulder. With sure foot steps her confidence grew till she stood with in hearing range catching the last few words he spoke.
"I'm sorry truly and deeply sorry."
She could hear the underlying pain in every note he spoke the deep tenor of his voice an octave lower with unshed emotions and tears the sound rendering a tear in her heart.
She didn't know what possessed her to do it but resting a small warm hand on his shoulder saying, "You miss her?" wanting to comfort and sooth his wounded soul.
"Do I even have that right?" he asked bitterly recognizing the voice but not the soft warming touch.
Penelope sighed, "Of course you do boss man don't be silly."
"She wasn't mine anymore Penelope hadn't been for a long time."
His answer threw her for a loop though she thought she knew better therefore she said as much, "Your wrong Hotch, Haley loved you she never stopped, so you have every right to miss her."
Hotch scuffed, a gruff sound that emanated from deep within his chest, "I highly doubt that Garcia."
"You believe the Oracle of all knowing is in the wrong that she didn't know her best friend in the least bit." Penelope shook her head, "Tsk tsk sir I thought you were a smarter man than that."
Aaron finally looked up and turned to glance at his technical analyst giving her the once over with a skeptical eye taking in the fact that she stood behind him in a light green wood sweater, jeans incasing her legs and a pair of lime green Converse tennie shoes on her feet. A total different picture than she presented while at work though he could see the personal touches that kept the look all her.
"I didn't say that Garcia…" he began eyeing her as she stepping around the stone bench motioned for him to move over and took the empty spot.
"Good to know oh noble one I'd hate to have to wreak havoc on your saving accounts," Penelope smiled letting him know that she was truly kidding. "Yet you don't believe what I told you."
Hotch looked away knowing in his heart she was wrong. "It's not that straightforward Penelope. It's not that I don't consider your words at face value I just knew Haley a bit better."
She wanted to smack her handsome boss in that second but reframed from violence and instead verbally yet nicely lashed out, "That maybe be oh blind boss man of mine but Haley and I shared a lot more than you know. She spoke to me quite often about her feelings on you and the whole messed up network of emotions she tried daily to surf through."
Hotch gave her a disbelieving raise of his eyebrow, "Oh this should be good."
"Very," Penelope acquiesced brightly.
"Then by all means do tell."
"All right then," she said a stronger edger tone to her voice as she stood and started to pace getting worked up. "I'll tell you one thing Aaron Hotchner, Haley wouldn't want you like this. Wallowing in your self pity and blame she'd want you to get off your keister and live for her. To keep Jack safe and knowing that he's loved by both his parents, to stop holding yourself responsible for something that was out of your control. To teach Jack about love and family and honor and know that she loved you till her dying day regardless of what you may think inside that big handsome brain of yours."
A soft chuckle slipped from his lips, "You know I think after that out burst Penelope you've earned the right to call me Aaron even after calling me out on my shit."
She blushed a scandalous look marring her features as she realized everything that she had said. "Sir I didn't mean…"
He held up a hand as he stood facing her, "No your right a part of me can't let go of the guilt and may never let go. But that doesn't mean I should stop living right?"
"To right boss man or I'll kick you cute butt myself."
"I do know one thing," he said turning from her sadness enveloping him once more, "when mine and Haley's friendship died that's when our love started to fail. When we couldn't talk through the differences like in the old days when we stopped going to each other for support," he heard Penelope start to protest and he turned back to her. "I'm serious. Yes she may have still loved me as I did her but she wasn't in love with me. That along with our ruined friendship died long before she finally walked out of my life."
Penelope shook her blonde head, "Oh foolish one you never see do you?" she glanced up at him then tossed out a question he wasn't expecting, "Have you eaten?"
"No," came the simple reply.
"Good," she returned brightly. "Let me place these and say a few words and we can go I know this diner not far good food and excellent service."
"Penelope," he began but she cut across him.
"I'm not taking no for an answer boss man," she stated turning to show the discussion was over on the matter at hand. She bent down and placed her bouquet of flowers down feeling the chilled wind whip around and through her, "Rest in peace kitten you will be missed by so many." She rose and faced her boss a sad smile tugging at her lips, "Now I will leave you to your goodbye but that no way means you leave without me got it?"
"Yes ma'am," he mocked sternly.
"To right," she said side stepping around him and walking off.
Hotch watched her for a short period of time till she disappeared behind a group of trees then turned back to Haley's grave.
"She was right about one thing Hails you will be missed and I hope where ever you are that you've found peace."
With those last few words Aaron Hotchner turned from his ex-wife's grave and started to make his way following much the same path Penelope had when he felt a brush of wind across his face. Never one to be religious the simple caress stopped him in his tracks as he looked around the delicate aroma of roses and vanilla on the wind as it passed by. He shook it off and continued knowing Penelope could get impatience at times.