Author's Note: Hello, readers! Again, several announcements to make...please visit our discussion forum, "Chit Chat on Author's Corner". We have introduced a new discussion thread called, "Announcing the Profiler's Choice Criminal Minds Awards on fanfiction. net 2010". Please see this thread for tentative guidelines and know that more details are coming soon. With all of the readers and authors support, I believe we can make this venture an incredibly fun experience! So, please everyone, come on over and take a look. We need all opinions to make this a successful event. Currently, we are taking suggestions for categories to include on our nomination ballot.

Thanks to everyone taking the time to continue reading our work. As always, we couldn't ask for better readers than those in the CM fandom and we appreciate everyone taking time to let us know what you think!

We have a couple more 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 PYOP 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!

We've also added two fun new prompt threads. One is called, "Fortune Cookie Fridays" based on an idea submitted by LoveforPenandDerek. Come by and check it out...perhaps, it will feed the muse. And the other is called, "Getting to Know...YOU! Tell us about yourself" It asks five simple questions that allow readers and authors alike to briefly tell us about who they are.


All the Reasons Why

Chapter One

There were no mere words he could utter right now that were capable of erasing that look shining ominously in his lover's eyes. He knew that. She thought he'd been disloyal to her. That knowledge burned in her eyes, searing his skin with her laser-like gaze.

And, how could he blame her? She had a right to those volatile emotions. But he couldn't remain silent. He had to somehow make her understand that while he'd had to play the Bureau's role of hard ass...he was still hers.

She still owned his heart.

"This decision had nothing to do with our personal relationship. You know I love you, don't you?" His question hovered in the silent office as he watched her turn away from him, her hair flying at the sudden movement. "Would you please say something?"

"Not enough," came her barely audible reply, delivered in a dead, hollow voice.

"Pardon?"

"You didn't love me enough," Emily stressed hoarsely, squeezing her eyes shut as she fought to maintain her icy control.

"It isn't like that," he objected gently, willing her to understand his choices.

"Then explain it to me, Aaron. Explain how it is that you believe I'm supposed to feel," she charged him bitterly, her words snapping sharply.

"I can't tell you how to feel, Emily," Hotch stated quietly, watching her back stiffen and her fists dig into the chair's upholstery beneath her hands. "But I do want to know. Desperately."

"How do I feel?" Emily asked sarcastically, abruptly rising and standing rigidly in the center of the room. "You wanna know how I feel, Hotch?" she asked tightly, turning to look at him with eyes shining with tears she refused to allow to fall. Furor fought valiantly with disappointment, and both were fated to win.

"Yes," Hotch said softly, begging her with that one word to trust him.

"Fine," she nodded tersely. "Betrayed. I feel betrayed. Happy now?" she asked, pacing to the window and staring sightlessly out into the bright afternoon.

"I didn't betray you, Prentiss," Hotch said stiffly, eyeing the raven haired beauty standing so close in proximity, but miles away in spirit. "I didn't have a choice."

"That's crap, Aaron," Emily said, turning sharply to glare at him as she added, "And you know it."

Throwing up a useless hand, Aaron muttered, "Damn, Emily, this is the hardest thing I've ever done."

"Is it?" Emily asked tightly. "How hard, Aaron? How hard did you fight to save my job?"

"You haven't lost your damn job!" Hotch exploded, snatching a paper of his desk and waving it at her, his fingers crunching the edge of the page. "There's a list of positions within the Bureau that could be yours."

"Those aren't MY jobs," Emily bit out narrowly, refusing to even reach for the fluttering page.

"This," she said, jabbing a finger in the direction of the BAU bullpen visible through his window, "is my job. As a profiler. And a damn good one at that."

"No one is denying that, Emily," Hotch stated evenly. "But what the hell was I supposed to do? The powers that be sliced the funding. I had to eliminate one agent."

"So you chose me," Emily said icily, her words simple while her eyes accused him. "The man that supposedly loves me blindly accepted the fact that he was going to be forced into eliminating me from the team."

"You think this is easy for me, Emily?" Hotch asked faintly, his jaw clenching tighter than before. "Do you think this is what I WANTED?"

"Honestly, I don't know. You seem pretty calm to me," she replied blandly, raising a brow.

Calm. She called him calm. He laughed to himself at the absurdity of that statement. Now that was the joke of the century. He'd never been reprimanded in his life until today for insubordination. But, his defense of Emily had come naturally, flowing from his lips before his brain comprehended the action. In truth, he'd been forced to defend each member of his team. Originally, they'd called for the elimination of two of his agents. He'd wheedled them down to one.

Emily. His Emily.

And it had been one of the hardest decisions he'd ever made in his life. He'd had to take a step back as the man that had fallen in love with her and think like the Unit Chief he was. She had the least time at the Bureau...the least amount of experience. Each of the other members of his team had a special skill. Reid and his eidetic memory, Morgan and his munitions expertise. JJ and her sharpshooting skills along with her role as media liaison. Rossi and his legendary career that extended across decades.

The only asset the higher ups had seen with Emily was that she was a linguist...and according to them, a much better fit for the counter-terrorism division. Their reasoning: Arabic chatter was on the rise.

"I'm not calm, Emily. But, I am resolved. I tried every way I knew to keep our team intact. When I go to bed tonight, I'll be able to know I did everything in my power."

"I'm glad one of us is convinced of that," Emily replied, a definitive edge in her voice as she stiffened her shoulders.

"Emily," Hotch muttered, fighting a groan, rubbing his hand over his jaw. "Be fair."

"Fair?" Emily spat, rage filtering through that one word. "You really want to talk about 'fair' right now, Hotch? Really?" she asked in stunned disbelief.

Closing his eyes, Hotch cringed as he shook his head, "Poor word choice."

"Do you think?" Emily retorted acidly, slamming her arms over her chest, a silent protection against the sudden changes around her.

"Listen to me," he sighed, circling the desk and stopping a foot or so from her tense body.

"Please, for a couple of minutes, just drop those defensive shields and listen to the guy that loves you. And if you won't do that, hear what your Unit Chief has to say."

"But you're not my Unit Chief anymore, are you, Hotch?" Emily retorted, narrowing her eyes as she refused to move an inch closer to that infuriating man. "Not anymore."

"I am until you sit down, take a look at this list and choose what you want to tackle in the Bureau next," Hotch replied patiently, reaching for her hand and tugging her resistant body toward the couch along one wall. "Come on, Emily. Give me ten minutes. Please?" he asked softly, that small word feeling foreign against his tongue.

Glancing into Aaron's earnest face, Emily softened slightly, her muscles seeming to relax.

"Okay," she nodded, allowing him to pull her down beside him on the sofa. "Ten minutes," she repeated meaningfully.