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.
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 also have a wonderful new 'Getting to Know' interview with our fellow author, canny-bairn. Please check it out!
All The Reasons Why
Swallowing, he realized that he didn't have any time to waste. "Emily, I had to make one of the hardest choices of my life today. Believe me, I know how important your career is to you. But, your career isn't over. I gained Strauss' agreement that as soon as Bravo team has a vacancy, you'll be given priority over any other agent at the Bureau to take it…if that's what you want. My options were extremely limited. Each member on our team has a more time in service cumulatively than you do. Each of them has a specialty directly benefiting the purpose served in this unit. And while I know that you're every bit as qualified as Reid, Morgan or JJ, quite frankly, it would be easier with your skill set to find another job here."
"So because I speak seven languages, I'm less valued," Emily stated hoarsely, wondering how this man that professed to love her couldn't understand how traumatic this entire situation was.
"No! You're simply more valued in other units. And as I said, as soon as Bravo team has an opening, you're in," Hotch returned intently.
"Why not THIS team?" Emily asked angrily. "You wouldn't have me back?" she asked, hurt darkening her eyes.
"No, I wouldn't," Hotch shook his head. "But not for the reasons that you're imagining," he told her gently, reaching out to squeeze her hand again.
"Then start explaining," Emily demanded, frowning down at their linked hands. "Because nothing you've said makes sense."
"Emily, the higher ups...they knew," Hotch shared softly, keeping their fingers laced together as his thumb stroked against her smooth skin.
"Knew what?" Emily asked blankly, her eyes searching his face as the implication of what he'd said began to sink into her. "Wait," she breathed, her eyes widening slightly as realization cleared her addled mind.
"I see you're getting there all on your own," Hotch said with a tender smile as he watched comprehension dawn in her eyes.
"How? How did they find out about us?" she asked, shaking her head, her long locks brushing against her shoulders. "We were so careful," she moaned, tightly closing her eyes as she fought to ignore their new reality.
"Evidently, not careful enough," Hotch shrugged. "At any rate, Strauss and her minions informed me that if I chose not to choose you to leave the unit, that we would be forced to give up our relationship immediately and we'd both receive letters or reprimand in our permanent files," Hotch explained, omitting the fact that regardless of Emily's choice, he'd still receive that letter. But it didn't matter to him. She was worth anything he had to do.
"Oh my God," she mumbled, staring at the floor. "They still want to keep both of us? Even after breaking the fraternization policy?"
"You're a valued agent here at the Bureau. And if you decide to transfer to another department or another team, then, technically, we won't be breaking any rules. Working two floors away in either direction seems like a small price to pay when we can still be together, Emily. Especially when we wouldn't have to hide anymore."
"Not hide?" Emily repeated with a glimmer of a smile, the thoughts of having a free and open life with the man she loved starting to improve her darkened mood.
Nodding, Hotch brushed a fingertip against her delicate alabaster cheek. "Yeah. Dinners out at popular restaurants. Going to a movie...the opera...the ballet," he tempted with a widening smile, aware of her weaknesses.
"Arriving at work in the same car without worrying that people will see us coming in together...finally being able to officially change my address without fear of payroll doing some mental acrobatics..."
"Now, you're catching the spirit," Hotch nodded, leaning forward to gently press a kiss against her soft lips. "But, mostly, it means I can finally do this," he whispered, easing down to the floor on one knee as he reached into his pocket.
"A-aron," Emily said softly, watching him pull a black velvet box free of his pocket, his fingers sure and certain as he held open his palm.
Cracking the lid, Aaron met her eyes. "I never thought I'd ever meet another woman that could see inside my soul," he began genuinely. "Someone that could I accept me for who I was without trying to change me into who she needed me to be. Until you. You gave me unconditional love when I needed it the most...when I hadn't even done anything to deserve it. I never thought fate would conspire to offer me this chance, Emily. But then it did. And I knew that it was a sign for us. So, I guess I'm asking…will you marry me?"
"Aaron," Emily choked, her eyes filling with tears as she stared into those dark hopeful eyes that were as familiar to her as her own. How could she ever have imagined living without him? Her forehead wrinkled prettily as she asked, worriedly, "Are you sure? Because if you aren't..."
"Emily, I've never been so certain of anything I wanted in my life. I want us. Permanently. Forever," he promised solemnly, the ring suddenly growing much heavier in his open palm. "I love you more than anything in the world and I don't ever want to waste another second that we could be together. Say yes," he replied, his eyes beseeching her to accept his proposal.
"Well," Emily said with a tremulous smile, "with an offer like that, who can refuse?" she asked shakily.
"Is that a yes?" Hotch asked, needing that affirmation like he needed his next breath.
"That's a definite yes," Emily whispered as the first tear slid down her cheek. "For the rest of my life," she vowed solemnly as she slid into the floor in front of him, leaning forward to express her love in the only way she knew how.
And in those moments, Aaron Hotchner and Emily Prentiss' happily ever after was sealed…with a kiss.