Aaron Hotchner considered himself a man of large views and highly flexible mind, but right now, as he gaped in astonishment at the improbable piece of food before his own disbelieving eyes, he just knew that there were times that reality was just out of any chance of acceptability.
"What's that supposed to be?"
His fiancée, on the other hand, couldn't seem to see the big deal.
"It's a pizza, Hotch." She answered in disarming obviousness, while taking a generous bite of the thing. "Thought you were sharp enough to tell by yourself."
"Emily, there are pink marshmallows on it." He stressed, as though he thought she couldn't be fully aware of the detail, such was its absurdity.
"Yes, there are."
"Marshmallows are sweet."
"That's why I put them."
Her angel-like smile thoroughly defeated any remnant of his willingness to throw some sensibility in the conversation.
She chewed cheerfully, a content expression beaming on her face, and Aaron sighed helplessly. Pregnant women could be a mystery to the masculine counterpart, but he was pretty sure that no woman in the world – not even the most psychotic – could beat a six-month pregnant Emily Prentiss.
His six-month pregnant Emily Prentiss.
He couldn't believe that she was carrying his baby girl. Somehow it was funny, weird and breathtaking at the same time to think that, after all he had been deprived of, now there were still such wonderful gifts in store for him.
He grabbed a chair a took a seat in front of her at the desk of his own office, then started observing her, his chin resting upon his joined hands. Two seconds had merely past when a small smile started tugging at his lips.
There was a tiny spot of tomato sauce on the left side of her mouth and the way she licked her fingers after each slice aroused warm chills within his heart. The candy pink shirt she wore embraced softly her swollen belly, following its curve almost until the very end of it, leaving a thin trail of naked skin just above the jeans.
She was the most beautiful thing he'd ever set his eyes on.
Too bad that pizza with marshmallows happened to be the most disgusting thing to eat he could think of.
"I know what you're thinking." she groused as she picked up the last slice. A couple of marshmallows fell off it.
Aaron shook his head and raised a hand to clean the sauce off the corner of her mouth.
"I'm thinking you are lovely and look so cute while nibbling at this gastronomic slaughter."
She made a discomforted face.
"Meaning that I'm disgusting and eat like a starved dinosaur."
A hearty laugh erupted from his throat.
"Can't help agreeing on the second one. But you're still a lovely dinosaur."
"Am I?" she asked hopefully, her dark, amazing eyes widening.
"Lovely as a blood-thirsty T-Rex under the influence of psycho hormones." Said a sneering voice.
Emily turned back to the door and there saw David Rossi standing with a coffee in his hand. She sent him a poisonous glare.
"Do you have a death wish, Dave?" she spat.
"Retract your fangs, sweetie. I come in peace."
"Are you bringing sedatives for my psycho hormones?"
"Does caffeine count?"
"Nope, but your spilling blood does."
"Did you need anything, Rossi?" Aaron intervened, before things got too far.
"I just missed Emily's silhouette. I think she never looked so gorgeous as she does with this watermelon-belly."
"Hotch, say something!" she said with an indignant high pitch. "He's scoffing at our baby bump!"
"The lady's pretty moody, isn't she?"
"Don't provoke her, please." Aaron begged.
Rossi lifted his coffee mocking a toast gesture.
"I'll be off serial-killing minutes of this endless, boring day, if anybody needs me."
"Nobody will." Emily blurted.
"You'll reconsider that, when Garcia comes back with her baby shopping results."
Aaron took a hand to his forehead and rubbed his temple in anticipated distress. Emily groaned and tried to think of a proper insult to address to Rossi, but he had already left.
"We're lucky we already have a house," Emily mumbled, both hands smoothing the cotton over her rounded belly. "Otherwise Garcia could be able to buy us one."
Aaron put on an eloquent look.
"I wouldn't speak so soon, you know?"
Most times, paperwork was a real pain in the neck, but there were occasions when it could be considered a minor occupation, just to fill in dead pauses scattered along the course of real life.
For instance, doing paperwork with your fiancée could prove more a moment of light-hearted intimacy than a mere, sterile part of the job.
Rain was literally pouring outside and heavy dark clouds occupied the sky till beyond the horizon. Two cups of steamy cappuccino lying beside, Emily and Aaron were going though their piles of documents like two good schoolchildren would have done with their most pleasant homework.
To Aaron's eyes, Emily had never looked so beautiful and peaceful. Her sharp features had been sweetened by the pregnancy and now her face, brighter and softer, made her appear like a dreamy-eyed teen. She had always looked younger than her actual age, but the happiness shimmering in her eyes had erased silent grieves that for too long had dimmed her natural glow.
Lost as he was in these musings, he nearly was startled by a sudden knock on the open door.
"Reid." He saluted, straightening up in his chair.
Emily turned around with a blinding smile.
"Hey there, big boy!"
Reid flashed her a smile in return and a second later Emily let out a surprised gasp.
"She kicked!" she cooed enthusiastically, placing her hands at the sides of the belly. "I suspect she has a crush on you, Reid. Whenever you're around, she starts tossing and turning like crazy."
"Well, prenatal studies have shown that twentyfive-week-old fetuses can actually have rudimental interactions with the external world, such as – "
Aaron killed the uncontrolled flow of speech with a quick glare.
"I was just saying that she may have developed a preference toward the sound of my voice, or my touch, or the feelings I elicit in Emily."
Aaron arched his brows.
"You elicit feelings in my fiancée?" He frowned and turned to the fiancée in question. "Emily, does he elicit feelings in you?"
"I didn't mean – " Reid stuttered, but Aaron broke in:
"And are you by chance insinuating that my daughter prefers you to her own father?"
Two very pink shades sprang on Reid's cheeks.
"Of course not!"
"Reid, relax, he's just pulling your leg." Emily reassured him, shaken by laughs.
"Oh." It took a couple of seconds for Reid's face to return to its usual ill-like paleness. "Good. I dropped by because Morgan and I are going to grab a bite, so I wanted to ask if you would like something, Emily." He cast a brief glance at the empty pizza box. "But I see you've already – "
"Fried chicken! With mayonnaise!" she ordered before he could finish. "And apple pie, but without apples!"
Reid's expression was halfway between bewildered and disgusted.
"Apple pie without apples? And fried chicken with… mayonnaise? Besides, didn't you use to hate fried chicken in the first trimester?"
"She did. Now she loves it and hates onions and strawberry-based stuff. And apple pie without apples means only the crust with the cream." Aaron answered dryly.
Reid gaped at him.
"How do you cope with all of this?" he asked in shock.
"I don't. I just clench my teeth and hold on."
"Have I ever told you you're my hero?"
"You're such a lapdog!" Emily laughed.
Reid didn't bother replying. He just gazed pitifully at Aaron and walked out shaking his head with a bemused smile.
Aaron could swear he heard him mutter something that sounded suspiciously like "Poor thing", and the boy surely didn't refer to Emily.
"Pregnancy sucks." Emily complained, sprawled onto the couch in Aaron's office, legs lying on a couple of piled up cushions, a hand resting on top of her belly. "Today I've devoured my own weight in food and still feel hungry. And it's not even four PM."
"You're eating for two." Aaron indulged, barely looking up from the form he was filling up.
"And I'm so damn hot." Emily added, waving her hand back and forth before her face.
"You've always been." He said absentmindedly, before his brain had a chance to identify the real meaning of her statement.
Emily was about to give him an unmannered reply regarding the dangerousness of shameless flatters addressed to pregnant women, but she had only opened her mouth when Morgan walked into the room.
"That was lame, boss." he sniggered, followed by Reid and a strong smell of fast food emanating from the big paper bag he carried in his arms. As soon as the smell swirled to her nostrils, Emily lit up like a Christmas tree.
"Derek Morgan, I love you!"
"Hey!" Reid protested. "I paid for all of this!"
"Then I love you, Spencer Reid!"
"You'd love your worst enemy, if they brought you food." Morgan stated.
"In this very moment I could eat my worst enemy in person, if you ask, so give me that bag and let me feed my little Sarah."
Aaron was suddenly jolted from his world of paperwork back into reality. Emily was already diving into the bag, rummaging for her fried chicken.
"Hadn't we agreed on Claire?"
"Claire Hotchner?" she grimaced in horror. "Aaron, please!"
"And you think Sarah Hotchner sounds better?" he retorted.
"How about Megan?" Reid suggested out of thin air.
Both Aaron and Emily turned to him with unreadable expressions.
"Yep. It's a Welsh name. Its meaning is pearl."
"Megan Hotchner. Maggie Hotchner." Emily reflected. "Hey, that sounds cool!"
Reid beamed proudly.
"I know. I came up with it."
"Hey, can you figure a teen Prentiss copycat going around introducing herself as Megan Hotchner?" Morgan feigned a sensual girlish voice. "Gosh, she's going to have boys fall and crawl at her feet with a simple bat of long, black lashes."
"Thanks for the picture, Morgan. This is going to drive me crazy before her third birthday." Aaron despaired.
"This chicken is awesome." Emily mewled while munching a nugget contentedly. "Where's the appleless apple pie?"
"They were out of it. No creepy craving mix available."
Emily's face fell at once.
"No apple pie?"
"Sorry, babe. You'll get a double next time."
"Okay." Emily felt her eyes fill with tears as a sudden urge to cry started pushing in her throat. "No problem," she said shakily. "It wasn't so important after all, was it?"
And after that a couple of tears rolled down her cheeks, soon followed by others.
"Prentiss?" Morgan's voice was tainted by a vibe of concern. "C'mon, girl, don't take it that bad. It was only – "
"I know it was only a piece of pie, okay?" she sniffled. "I just can't help it! It's not like I enjoy having my mood swing from cheerful to gloomy every now and then, you know? Do you think it's fun?"
Morgan moved a step backward, blinking in dismay.
"Man, you're scary when you freak out like this."
Reid didn't seem to be less shocked.
Aaron brought Emily a tissue and enveloped her shoulders with an arm, stroking her with the free hand.
"You haven't seen her watching Ice Age with me and Jack." he added then, sharing a look with his two friends.
"Ice Age? Is that a documentary?" asked Reid.
"Ice Age is a comedy masterpiece," said Morgan, ignoring him. "How can anybody shed a tear on Ice Age, if not out of laughs?"
"Will you all just stop making fun of me?" Emily complained. The tearful moment was already gone and promptly replaced by the usual nonchalance.
"You're an easy target, sweetheart." Morgan said in his own behalf.
Aaron was of the humble opinion that the room was definitely overcrowded. He had loved spending the morning side by side with Emily, just the two of them alone – them, and a marshmallow pizza – and now all the warm, cuddly atmosphere had vanished, swept away by uninvited intruders.
"Hello everyone, my beloved little profilers! Auntie Penelope is here!"
They all turned to the door, where Garcia stood with at least twenty bags hanging from her arms and a huge smile on her fire-red lips.
"Garcia," Aaron began worriedly. "Please, tell me that, whatever you have in there, it's not for my daughter."
"It's not for your daughter." Garcia said.
"No. But you asked me to tell you so."
Aaron's jaw fell, much to Emily's delight and Morgan's entertainment.
Totally untouched by the agitation she had caused, Garcia deposited all she was carrying onto Aaron's desk, burying everything laying on it under a bunch of glossy pink bags.
"I just bought a couple of cute things baby Hotch is going to love!"
"It's Megan, in the end." Reid informed her.
"Megan?" Garcia gaped back and forth from Emily to Aaron and finally stopped on the latter. "Are you aware that if this girl turns out like her mother when she grows up – and you can bet she will – giving her such a sexy name is going to sign the official end of your sanity, Hotch?"
"Not you, too! What is it? Some sort of plot against me?"
"If anybody's attempting to kill Hotch's sanity, they will have to wait."
JJ had just appeared in the doorframe, arms crossed over her chest with a small smile.
"Time to go home, buddies. You can resume the game tomorrow."
It was the best news Aaron had received in the last twenty-four hours.
"Alright, then, see you all tomorrow." He stood up and, among general objections, accompanied everybody out. When the door was closed and peace restored, he could at last go back to his favourite occupation. Emily was still on the couch, waiting for him to help her stand up. Her belly was already big enough to require a considerable effort to do that on her own.
"Looks like you're completely at my mercy, now." He quipped, trapping her in a hug.
"When haven't I been?"
"I can recall a couple of times when you were definitely leading the game, to be honest." He smirked.
"You are such a naughty boy under that uptight mask you sport." She whispered upon his lips. They were close enough for their noses to skim. Her fingers clutched his jacket and pulled him down to her.
"If anybody has to come in, I hope they do it now, because in three seconds I swear I'll have pinned you down to the wall and God knows what else." He breathed huskily.
Garcia had just popped her head into the room.
Emily felt Aaron's muscles tremble under her palms and she could hardly hold back a laugh.
"Sorry for breaking the moment, but there's another little thing out here you should remember to pick up when you leave."
"And what is that?"
The cheeky grin on Gracia's face made them both fear for the worst.
"Nothing important, no worries!"
Aaron gave a sigh of relief.
"I just bought you a house."
Aaron's eyes nearly shot out of their orbits.
"It's a tree-house, you silly boy!" Garcia giggled. "It's right here, don't forget it. Bye bye, kids, see you tomorrow!"
When they were along again, Aaron and Emily stared speechlessly at each other, trying to figure out if their life was naturally crazy or it was just because they were surrounded by crazy friends.
"I'm under the impression that this is only going to get worse when Megan will be born." Aaron reflected.
Emily placed a kiss on his cheek.
"That is for sure. But I like it crazy and happy way better than ordinary and blue, don't you think, Mr Hotchner?"
"Why, Ms Prentiss," he smiled, pulling her back into his arms. "I happen to agree with you."
He made to kiss her, but right before his lips touched hers, she pulled back.
"Aaron?" she asked tentatively.
He didn't let go of her, but instead approached again, dropping a chain of hot kisses along her jawline.
Emily moaned and bit her lower lip.
"I still want the appleless apple pie."
Author's Notes: well, seems like I wrote that famous sequel many of you asked for! I hope you enjoyed this as much as you enjoyed Sick of Sickness! Reviews are love and food for the heart, so if you want to leave one, I'll be glad. ;) Sorry for typos and distractions, if you spot any: it's nearly midnight, here, and it's time to go to bed. ;)