Author's Note: We have a couple of announcements for you all today. We're proud to announce that signups are open for the Fanfic Challenge - Round 4 on our forum, "Chit Chat on Author's Corner" or, as we like to call it, the "PYOP Challenge" (pick your own pairing challenge) through September 1st. For those interested, simply go to the forum to the PWOP Challenge thread and sign up with your favorite pairing. On September 2nd, we'll assign you a scenario to write provided by some of our lovely fellow authors. This will give everybody an opportunity to write what they love and provide readers with some awesome stories. Please sign up at the forum or shoot us a PM signifying your willingness to participate. So, please come join the fun and let's make this the most successful challenge yet!

Also, we've opened a new thread called, "Find a Fic...with the help of all your friends". Ever had a story for which you simply couldn't recall the title. This thread is the place to begin searching. Details can be found on the thread. I hope you all find it a helpful addition to the forum. As always, any ideas for new threads are welcome!

We also have wonderful new interviews with two equally amazing authors posted. Please check out the-vampire-act and emzypemzy interviews and let them know your thoughts!

And, as always, thanks to everybody still reading, reviewing, alerting and favoriting our stories. We couldn't do this without your support!

The Walls of Heartache

It was a proven fact that Emily Prentiss and Aaron Hotchner had more traits in common that separated them. If only they'd both open their eyes and hearts long enough to admit it.

At least that was David Rossi's decidedly expert opinion as he silently watched his two best friends through the window in Hotch's office.

And contrary to popular belief, Dave indeed was an expert….at least in the field of amore. He knew all the ways possible to destroy a good relationship. God knew, he'd had more than a little experience in that arena.

Conversely, by knowing all the ways to screw up love's tentative bond , he also knew how to recognize the ways in which it could be preserved. And that far more strenuous feat began by standing still. If only he'd learned that lesson before he got too old and jaded to enter the game again, he thought with a wry shake of his dark head. Oh, how he could have changed history and his future.

But, as his eyes once again trained on the slight movement beyond the window, he realized that there was still hope for his two co-workers…if only they'd stop running from each other long enough to run INTO each other.

A change in direction was needed.

And in Dave's logical thinking, their compatibility transcended even the earthly bonds…which just might be part of the problem. They even had the demons they valiantly attempted to escape from in common with each other.

Each ran from pain.

For different reasons, of course. Hotch fled because he was afraid to lose in love again. Afraid he was doomed to repeat his history with another woman. Afraid to be marked eternally by the failures that scarred his once-battered heart.

Emily…now she was a different story entirely. Emily was afraid of love, period. Afraid to put herself on the line after too many years of being disappointed by her parents and former lovers, her definition of love skewed from an early age. And now, after years of continual regret, she'd become disenchanted with the whole concept of love and commitment. She'd made it clear on more than one occasion that she believed them to by myths made up by a capricious mind intent on torturing society as a whole.

Both parties had experienced lies and truths converging in a blurry line in their personal lives, and neither was particularly induced to trust their judgment where the opposite sex was concerned.

A pity, after all, since they were a perfect fit for each other.

In the past few years, Dave had watched both of their lives spin out of control. First, Emily's abrupt sentence in Cyrus' compound locked her emotions in as tightly as her own mind had closed on the memories. Then, as if that wasn't enough, her past came back to haunt her in the form of a psychotic priest intent on ruining more than one life, the inner turmoil left in its wake that had thrown her toward the precipice.

And of course, none of them would ever forget Hotch's ongoing tragic battle with George Foyet, culminating in an event so horrific, it had scarred the stoic man for life. All other moments in Aaron Hotchner's life, however horrific they had been, paled in comparison to that Armageddon.

Yeah, his friends had flitted from disaster to disaster, shouldering burden after burden, building shield after shield to withstand the next onslaught.

And yet, somehow, in the middle of the battles, what they never realized was the sanctuary they'd found in each others' mere presence.

Both of them were now running on fumes, literally and metaphorically. Each colleague was allowing his or her life to run them instead of the other way around, and it was taking a visible physical toll. Both looked tired and drawn. Almost defeated.

But not quite.

Because they were stronger together, on those rare occasions when they leaned on one another. And it was obvious to anyone that cared to look that the wall they'd put between them was slowly eroding.

Thank God.

Watching them now, their dark heads together as they quietly conversed over something unknown but to the two of them, Dave smiled. He could almost hear the bricks smashing to the ground as the seemingly impenetrable wall slowly crumbled.

And hopefully, with that once-insurmountable barrier gone, it wouldn't be long before they were running toward each other.

finis