So this is my first Criminal Minds fic! And it's H/P! :) Some spoilers for Minimal Loss. I haven't decided if this is going to be anything more than a one-shot, so for now I'm leaving it marked as Incomplete.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything to do w/ Criminal Minds, I'm just taking the characters out for a little joyride. I promise not to get them arrested…
The BAU jet had been in the air barely 10 minutes, headed back to D.C. after wrapping a particularly gruesome case in Chicago, and Emily Prentiss had already fallen fast asleep. Restful nights had been few and far between for her as they spent the last two weeks in Illinois hunting down a serial killer who had beaten his victims into submission in a way that unnervingly reminded her of her own beating at the hands of Benjamin Cyrus. Sure, it had been nearly a month since she and Reid had been trapped in that compound, but the eternally-composed Agent Prentiss had suddenly found it difficult to compartmentalize the tension and fear she had felt ever since. Not that she would ever willingly let the team know that – but then, she worked with a group of profilers that didn't need to see the bags under her eyes to know that she wasn't sleeping well.
She watched as Cyrus pressed the end of his gun into Reid's temple and threatened to shoot him. "No! Please! Please don't hurt him!" She cried out, drawing his attention away from her teammate and onto herself. He turned on her, backhanding her across the face and then kicking her hard in the stomach when she fell to the ground. He pulled her up by her hair before slamming her against a wall and aiming a blow to her head with the butt of his gun.
Emily's struggling eventually drew everyone's attention to her as she tossed and turned in her seat on the jet, continuously trying to fight off the demons that were invading her sleep. When she let out a soft whimper, it was JJ who voiced the question on everyone's mind. "Should we wake her up?"
Reid was the first one to answer. "You know, I recently read about a study being conducted where they monitored 50 people's brain activity while they were sleeping. They split the group into two and the first half they woke them up when the brain activity indicated they were having a dream, and the second half they let sleep through it. Their results showed that there was a slightly greater chance of remembering the dream if you were woken up in the middle of it than if you slept through it." Silence greeted this proclamation – a fairly common reaction to the boy genius' habit of inserting statistical data in situations where he was unsure of what to do.
Hotch watched as Emily continued to fight in her sleep, slightly disconcerted at seeing her more vulnerable than he'd ever seen the unshakeable Emily Prentiss before. He wanted to wrap her tight in his arms, fight away the demons for her, and promise to keep her safe, but she wasn't his to hold and, at the very least, he couldn't do that while the team was watching his every move. But when tears started falling from her closed eyes, his stomach clenched at the sight and he decided it was time to wake her.
He was beaten there by JJ, who had swiftly moved to Emily's side and was gently shaking her shoulder to wake her. Emily shot straight up in her seat, immediately alert and on the defensive, until she realized where she was a moment later. Her face flushed red as she realized everyone was watching her and she hurriedly wiped the tears from her cheeks.
"Are you okay, Princess?" Derek asked her, watching the way the fear from her nightmare seemed to linger in her eyes until she blinked and pushed it away into the far recesses of her mind in typical Emily fashion.
"Yea." She insisted, but inwardly cursed when her voice came out sounding weak. Emily Prentiss is not weak, she admonished herself. She cleared her throat and was happy to hear her voice come out sounding stronger the second time around. "I'm fine."
"Em, we all have nightmares at one time or another." JJ told her, while clasping one of her friend's hands in her own, trying to lessen her friend's embarrassment and comfort her at the same time. But Emily's only reaction was to excuse herself to the bathroom and stay there long enough to regain her composure and ensure that the team had turned their attention away from her and onto other things. And when she emerged from the small airplane bathroom, they had the decency to not stare and to pretend that they had completely forgotten about the incident. She quietly took her seat, sitting straight up to ensure that her exhausted body wouldn't lull her into sleeping again.
Pretending to listen as Derek recounted yet another one of his stories about a girl he'd met at a bar, she furtively looked around the cabin at her teammates until she found herself staring into the chocolate brown eyes of her boss. His eyes seemed to radiate warmth and concern as he looked back at her and he raised an eyebrow as if to ask 'Are you alright?'. She quickly tamped down on the butterflies in her stomach and gave him a small smile and a slight nod of her head before breaking her gaze away and focusing back on Derek. JJ smiled to herself as she watched the scene play out before her and added it to her "Reasons I know Hotch and Emily should be together" list. Then, she mentally reminded herself to share the info later with Garcia – her partner in crime when it came to scheming up ways to get Hotch and Emily together.
When the jet touched down in D.C., it was approaching 9pm on a Friday night. Hotch informed them that they would have the weekend off and not to worry about paperwork until Monday morning. JJ hurried off the plane to find Will and Henry who were picking her up after her two weeks away in Illinois. Derek subsequently dragged Reid and Rossi out to a bar with him, while Hotch and Emily each declined his invitation to go out dancing and drinking. Grabbing her go-bag, Emily followed Hotch off the plane and they headed towards the parking lot. He offered to drop her off on his way home and since she had previously ridden with JJ and left her car at home, she agreed and climbed into the passenger seat. Once again feeling herself getting drowsy, she made small talk to keep herself awake.
"So, are you going to pick up Jack tonight?"
He glanced over at her, frowning as he picked up on how she was forcing herself to stay awake. "No. He'll already be in bed, so I told Haley I'd pick him up tomorrow morning and keep him for the weekend."
"Oh." She found her mind too exhausted to come up with something else to talk about and so she instead settled into the comfortable quietness that stretched between them. When he glanced in her direction a few minutes later, he realized that she had fallen asleep again. He pulled up outside her apartment and placed his hand on her shoulder to wake her, much the same as he had seen JJ do earlier. And once again he watched as she bolted upright in her seat, suddenly awake and alert, but at least this time there were no tears to break his heart.
"You're home." He stated, and she nodded and opened the door to get out. He got out and grabbed her go-bag from the backseat, determined to at least walk her to her door and make sure she was okay.
"Thanks for the ride home. Do you want to come in for coffee?" She asked as she pushed the key into the lock to open her door. When he didn't answer right away, she turned to look at him and noticed that he was frowning at her.
When he spoke, she was surprised to hear his voice was soft and laced with concern. "You shouldn't drink coffee this late. You need to rest, to sleep."
She averted her eyes from his to the floor, admitting in an equally soft voice, "I can't… I mean… I don't want to sleep." She felt her face flush again from the admission. Though she had said very little, she felt as though she had bared her soul to him. And when she glanced back up into his eyes, she could tell he understood all that she wasn't saying.
"I could stay." He watched as her eyes widened slightly in surprise at his offer. "Jack tells me I'm really good at making the monsters go away," he quipped with a small smile.
Normally, the very capable and very professional Agent Prentiss wouldn't even let herself consider the idea. But the very exhausted and rather scared Emily really liked the idea of having Hotch there to protect her and keep her safe. And maybe, just maybe she'd be able to actually get a good night's sleep with him there. So she nodded her head in agreement and watched as he ran back to the car to grab his own go-bag before following her inside the apartment.
Quickly tamping down on the excitement that washed over him at the idea of spending the night in Emily's apartment, he reminded himself that he was just there to help keep her demons away for the night. But hey, if he did a good job, maybe she'd let him come back and do it again, right? He could only hope.
They exchanged very few words, and she directed him to a guest bedroom that was just down the hall from her own bedroom. He changed into a pair of sweats and an old FBI t-shirt before lying down, leaving the door ajar in case she needed him. Just down the hall, Emily was pacing back and forth in her bedroom trying to convince herself to just lie down and go to sleep. But after a month of very vivid nightmares that never seemed to end, it was a difficult sell.
"Emily?" Hotch's voice startled her out of her pacing and she turned to find him standing in the doorway to her bedroom watching her with a look of concern on his face.
She ducked her head slightly, avoiding his gaze. "Sorry, didn't mean to keep you up."
She looked so small and insecure standing in the middle of her bedroom in an oversized t-shirt and pajama pants that he wanted nothing more than to pull her into his arms and hold her tight to his chest. And as much as the professional side of himself was telling him it was a bad idea, he crossed the room and did it anyway. She tensed up for the slightest moment before relaxing into his arms and wrapping her arms tightly around his waist, clinging to him for all she was worth.
"Kinda foolish being afraid of your own bed, right?" She quirked her lips up at how ridiculous she knew she sounded, but a lack of sleep does funny things to a person.
He rested his chin on top of her head before replying, "I don't think it's the bed you're afraid of."
"No, definitely not," she quietly agreed. "Will you stay with me? In here? Just for a little while?" she asked hesitantly, not sure of what his reaction would be and wondering if she was asking too much from him. Their relationship had changed a lot recently – they'd become more friendly and every once in a while she had an inkling that he might feel about her the way she'd been feeling about him for a long time. But that was just an idea and she didn't really know where their relationship stood. She needn't have worried, though, because he readily agreed, happy to have any reason to have her close to him – especially if he got to hold her in his arms like he was doing right at that moment, enjoying the feeling of her pressed up against him.
He led her over to the bed and pulled back the covers for her to climb in, before switching off the light and following her into the bed. He waited for the moment that the situation would become awkward, but it never came. Instead she moved up against him, laying her head on his chest, and he wrapped an arm around her as naturally as if they'd been sleeping beside each other their whole lives.
It didn't take long for sleep to claim her, though whether that was because she was extremely exhausted or because she felt safe in his arms, he didn't know. Perhaps it was a bit of both. He considered leaving to go back to his own room now that she was asleep, but the logical reasons that he came up with for why he should leave just couldn't combat the feeling of absolute contentment he felt lying there beside her with his arm wrapped around her. Instead, he quickly followed her into sleep, having been quite tired himself after the case they had just completed.
Less than an hour after he fell asleep, he was awoken by the tossing and turning of the raven haired beauty beside him. "No! Stop! Please don't!" He heard her cry out and watched as she seemed to cringe in her sleep and tucked herself into a fetal position, obviously trying to protect herself from the demons that were invading her nightmares again. His mind flashed back to that day in Colorado when he had been forced to stand by and listen to the sounds of her being beaten. His stomach clenched tightly just as it had that day and he had to force himself to once again let go of the anger, pain, and regret of what had happened, of what he hadn't been able to stop from happening. But at least he could be here for her now.
He pulled her tightly against him, wrapping both of his arms around her and running one of his hands soothingly up and down her back. It didn't take long for her to calm back down and settle fully into his arms again. Though he was sure that the nightmare was gone for the time being, he was reluctant to fall back asleep again, in case it returned. Finally letting himself relax again a long while later, he laid his head against hers, smelling her strawberry scented hair, and placed a gentle kiss to the top of her head before allowing himself to slowly drift towards sleep again. Hovering on the edge of sleep, he made her a promise to be there for her and with her as much as she would let him until she could sleep without the nightmares haunting her from that horrible day. And who knows? Maybe she would let him stay even when the nightmares were gone.