A/N: Thanks for all the kinds words! Please enjoy this very last part of Coming Back Home!
Coming Back Home
August 11, 2016
"What do you think buddy?" Hotch said, turning to face Jack, "Is it on straight?" He tugged a little at his red tie –Emily's favorite color – and gave his son a crooked smile.
"Looks good to me, dad," Jack said, standing on his toes and running his small hand down his father's tie to smooth the only visible kink.
"Thanks, Jack," Hotch said, smiling and ruffling a hand through Jack's sandy hair. His expression turned slightly more serious as he looked his son in the eyes. "You remember what to do, right?" he said, "You have to hold Gracie's hand when you two walk down the aisle, okay? And when you get to the front you make sure she sits down next to Nanna Prentiss."
"I know, Dad!" Jack said, wiggling out of his father's gentle grip, "You've told me like a hundred times already."
"Just checking, bud," Hotch said, giving his son another apologetic smile and running a hand through his own hair.
Rossi raised a bushy eyebrow at the scene in front of him. Tilting his lips in an amused smirk, he brought the crystal tumbler to his mouth and took a small sip of the amber liquid. "I don't think I've ever seen you this nervous Aaron," he said, "it is rather amusing to be honest."
Hotch glared at the older man, though ignored the cocky twinkle he received back. "Hey, Jack," he said, "could you go find Derek and Spencer for me, please?" Jack nodded briskly, leaving his father and Rossi alone as the door closed behind him.
"Afraid she'll get cold feet?" Rossi said, chuckling merrily and taking another swig of his expensive scotch.
"Shut up and help me with these," Hotch said, holding up a pair of cufflinks, "I can't seem to get them right."
"Sure," Rossi smiled, getting up from his seat and taking the cufflinks. "Sorry 'bout yanking your chain, Aaron," he said, snapping one cufflink in place, "I think it's healthy to be a bit nervous on your wedding day. Maybe that's why things didn't work out between me and my exes – I wasn't one bit nervous on any of my wedding days."
"Good to know," Hotch said, a small dimple creasing his clean shaven cheek. "Thanks." His smiled as Rossi snapped the other cufflink in place. He pulled his black suit jacket over his shoulders. "I just want everything to be perfect, you know. Emily deserves that." He turned, looking into the mirror, trying to fix the mess he'd made of his hair. He caught Rossi's eyes again in his reflection. "I keep thinking; who would have thought a year ago that we'd be here today."
"I did," Rossi said, smiling another of his smug smiles, "I always knew you'd end up here, I didn't know exactly when, but that you would was pretty given."
April 10, 2016
Hotch rubbed a hand across his face, his palm scratching against the slight stubble. Ever since Emily had told him his graying beard was a turn on he had made it a point not to shave during whenever they had a few days to themselves. And he usually got thoroughly rewarded. Letting his mind wander to such places both calmed and excited him.
She was waiting for him in the living room. He'd offered to clear away the dishes while she opened a bottle of wine. The kids were with Jessica, who had been surprisingly accepting of Grace, for the night so that mommy and daddy could have an evening alone. Though it wasn't just to have the apartment to themselves that Hotch had asked Jessica to take the kids for the night, he needed the privacy to talk to Emily.
Glancing at her as she sat on the couch, her back turned to him, pouring two glasses of Chardonnay, he could feel beads of nervous sweat trickle down his forehead. He took a step forward, the floor creaking slightly under the weight of his foot. The sound made Emily turn, her face lighting up as her eyes met his. He closed the distance between them, every step matching his rapidly beating heart.
He sat down next to her, accepting the glass of wine she handed him and let one hand wrap around her shoulders like he always did. He always wanted her as close as possible. He took a sip. He knew he couldn't stall any further. They'd been alone all night. He'd had several opportunities to bring it up, but he hadn't. Honestly because he wasn't sure just how she'd react. He took another sip, deciding that waiting wouldn't help him.
"There's something I need to tell you," he said, taking her glass from her hands, placing it on the table next to his own and pulling her closer against his chest. He briefly wondered if she could feel how hard his heart was pounding. "I've made a decision," he said.
"Go on," she answered.
"I'm resigning as unit chief," he said, bringing forward his news without any pomp and circumstance, "Actually I am leaving the BAU all together."
"Why? You love the BAU."
"I love you and the kids more and to be honest, I really don't think I can do my job effectively anymore. I worry Emily, I worry that something will happen to you, or that something will happen to me and that Jack and Grace will lose one or both of their parents. It's just not worth it anymore. I feel like I have too much to lose."
"What will you do instead?"
"I've been offered retirement and I think I'll take it, I might take up teaching at the academy a few hours a week, but really I want to be able to spend as much time with the kids as possible." He paused, examining her face carefully, a slight wrinkled creased the smooth skin above her nose. "I'm sorry. I'm just springing this on you. I should have talked to you sooner."
"That's not it," Emily said, biting her lip, her eyes falling to her lap. "If that's what you want then I am happy for you. But Hotch, I'm not ready to leave yet. I can't leave the BAU."
"I don't want you to do that, sweetheart, not until you're ready."
"But you worry – "
"Yes, but I also know that you can take care of yourself. That is one of the million things that I love about you."
August 11, 2016
"Ooh, you look so cute I could just eat you right up, my littlest princess!" Garcia squealed and wrapped her arms around Grace in a big hug. "That is the prettiest dress I have ever seen. Did you pick that out yourself?" she said, running a hand across the front of Grace's lilac dress.
"Mmmhmm, I did Miss Penny," Grace said beaming brightly at Garcia, "and the shoes too!" She wiggled a sandal covered foot at Garcia.
"Wow! Those are very, very pretty Miss Gracie," Garcia said, smiling at Grace who was shining with pride. It was no secret that Garcia with her colorful outfits and personality had become somewhat of Grace's idol. "You are without a doubt the prettiest flower girl I have ever seen in my entire life," she said, "and you – " she turned to look at Emily "– my dear, you are the most beautiful bride I have ever seen."
"Thanks, PG," Emily said smiling somewhat awkwardly, glancing at her reflection in the mirror and smoothing down an escaped strand of silky raven hair.
"How are you feeling?" JJ said, one slim eyebrow arched in question, "you look a bit flushed. It's not too warm in here is it? I could ask them to crank the AC."
"I'm fine," Emily promised, fingering one of the straps on her ivory dress – a dress Garcia had helped her pick out with the clear instructions "nothing lace and nothing poofy". She smiled, moving her attention from the strap to the small bouquet of red roses lying on the vanity. "I'm a bit nervous, I guess. I've spent the most part of my adult life rather confident, and then some of the latest years certain, that this day wouldn't come. And now, here I am. It's a strange feeling, it's surreal almost and at the same time I feel completely ecstatic."
"Don't worry, sugar plum," Garcia said, bending down and fussing over the dress's train making sure it hadn't a single crease, "I think that's pretty normal. Just you wait till you see the boss man…uh ex boss man – wow that still feels weird saying … well anyway – wait till you see him and everything will be prefect."
April 10, 2016
"I think I love a million and one things about you, Agent Hotchner," Emily said, as she twirled her arms around his neck, her hands settling on the back of his head and her fingers tangling in the short but soft hair at his neck.
She smiled, feeling the tension leaving her shoulders as his hands found her back. She had been able to tell that Hotch'd had something on his mind all day; he had been short, though not unfriendly, and she'd had trouble locking his gaze during dinner, instead he'd kept his eyes downcast and his lips pursed tightly together.
It'd had her worried all day that whatever problem he was having and whatever he was feeling he would hide it behind his armor and keep his distance from her. But he hadn't. He had let her all the way in. She sighed against his neck, as his hands rested on her hips, and pulled in a breath filling her lungs with the scent of him mixed with his cologne. Slowly she let her lips trail the crook of his neck, painting a trail down to his collarbone.
Letting her hands drop from his neck to his shoulders, her ministrations stopped as she felt tense muscles under her hands. "Aaron?" she said, "What's the matter?"
Hotch raised his eyes, rubbing his hands up and down her sides. "Nothing," he said, giving her a smile, "I'm just nervous I guess. There's one more thing that I'd like to talk to you about, Emily."
She scooted back a bit, to get a better view of his face. She arched an eyebrow, but didn't say a word. Her heart throbbed against her rib cage.
"Actually," Hotch smiled, "there's something I want to ask you." He reached inside his pocket, fishing out a small velvet box and Emily thought her heart would take a leap out of her body. For some reason she hadn't seen this coming. She knew how deeply they loved each other; she felt it with every fiber of her being every time she looked at him. And they had been living together for months, sharing their lives. But still she was blindsided.
"I love you, Emily Prentiss," Hotch said, taking her left hand in his, "I have for a very long time and I can't imagine myself doing anything else for the rest of my life." He slipped the box open, revealing a simple white gold band. "Emily, will you please do me the honor of becoming my wife?" He looked at her, nerves lingering with happiness on his otherwise so hard-to-read features.
She could literally feel her heart swelling to twice its size. "Yes. Yes, I will," she whispered, surprised that she was able to form even such simple words when her mind was spinning the way it was. A single joy filled tear trickled down her cheek as he slid the ring on her finger and wrapped his arms around her.
August 11, 2016
Emily watched, through a crack in the door, with glassy eyes as her daughter and son made their way down the aisle together. Jack was clutching Grace's hand. Grace was throwing red rose petals haphazardly along her way. She laughed softly, glancing up and watching Hotch as he beamed down at his children.
The music changed. "That's our tune, pumpkin," Mr. Prentiss chuckled, giving Emily his arm, "let's go."
She locked eyes with Hotch the second she stepped through the door and kept her eyes on his as she walked slowly down the aisle next to her father. As they got to the altar she gave her father a kiss on the cheek and turned back to Hotch. Grabbing her hand he whispered; "I love you, Mrs. Hotchner."
"I love you too, Mr. Hotchner."
A/N: Thank you so much to all who have stuck with me for this very long ride! I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed yourself throughout this journey. If you have… please let me know by leaving me a review! I appreciate every single one!
I've got a few oneshots on the way so keep an eye out for them. I am also in the process of starting a sequel to one of my older stories… Any guesses which one? In other words lots more to come so I hope y'all will keep reading!