A/N: This episode broke my heart. Emily was my favorite character on CM and I'm sad that she's gone for the rest of the season. But I wish Paget all the best and will watch her in whatever series she chooses to go with. I wrote this immediately after the episode on Wednesday, and am excited to get some feedback on it. BETA'd by my dear friend Patty, and dedicated to her as well. She embraced the huge nerd I am and is a fabulous friend. READ AND REVIEW please!
Disclaimer: I own nothing or they would've caught Doyle and Emily would still be around.
THIS IS RATED M FOR A REASON. You've been warned.
"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." - Helen Keller
If someone had told him two weeks ago that he'd be here today, he would've laughed at the implication; burying a second woman that he cared about. Haley's death had been hard to deal with, but it had come with some element of closure attached; she was gone for good and the man who had taken her from him had paid. This one was different; much, much different. There would be no closure this time around, no going through the five stages of grief, no going to the gravesite and talking to it hoping she could hear. The fact of the matter was simple.
Emily Prentiss wasn't dead.
The coffin on display in front of her family, her friends, her team was nothing more than a ruse. She was safe and secure in a private room in the hospital, under an assumed name; tucked away from anyone that could provide her with any support and security. She'd be gone by the end of the month, spirited away by JJ and her contacts at the State department. He'd been privy to the cover-up, he'd helped in providing a cover for her, and now he was reduced to this; playing a part in the grandest play he could've ever imagined being a part of.
Irony struck him as he contemplated that thought. He'd joined a play to woo Haley, now he was joining a play to save Emily. Haley had been the one he loved first, Emily he'd loved better, stronger, deeper. She'd been his saving grace after losing his hearing, and after Foyet, she'd kept him on track. She'd grown up in a home that had been lacking in parental attention and love, had a keen eye for spotting it, and always made sure that he got home to Jack at a reasonable hour, even if it meant staying late and doing extra paperwork for him.
He didn't know how he was going to cope now. She wouldn't be there with the occasional cup of coffee from the shop down the street from her apartment, no more late night phone conversations when they'd had a case that struck either of them at their core, no more take-out pizza on the living room floor with Jack while watching a movie. No more feeling like a family.
This was the second time his son was losing someone important to him. The second time Jack would be without a woman in his life. Hotch sighed and shook his head, silently beating himself up about letting it happen again. They'd saved her, this time they made it; but life as all of them knew it was going to change and he still managed to feel like a failure. He tried to drown out the words the minister was speaking, tried to not let it connect with his already breaking heart; he would not break in front of them. Not again.
He watched as each blood red rose was laid by his team on her coffin, before stepping forward himself and lying it on the cold black surface, and allowing himself a moment to linger; sending a silent prayer of thanks to every God he could think of that she wasn't in there. He stepped back and cast a cautious glance at JJ, holding her eyes for a moment before dropping them to look at his shoes as the final prayers were said.
The next few weeks passed in a haze of emotion; grieve counseling for the team, psych evals, trying to return to the normal day-to-day functions. He'd asked that someone from another team clean her desk out, he couldn't put his team through anymore pain than they already were in. He'd been surprised to find that she'd kept a photo of Jack in her desk drawer, along with a picture he'd drawn; both had been left on his desk, a reminder that she had cared more than she would've ever shown. He smiled and fingered the drawing and photo gently, trying to imagine her hands under his, when his phone had buzzed to life.
BAU jet. 2300 tonight. Bring your go-bag. - Jayje
JJ wouldn't ask for his attendance if she didn't think she'd need it, and he knew better than to ask questions when it came to the determined blonde. He grabbed his go bag and called Jessica to watch Jack; he had a feeling this would be something much more personal than a case.
He'd never been to Paris and he certainly had no idea why he was heading there now. All he knew what that JJ had requested he join her and he'd felt the need to comply. As he studied the blonde across the plane from him, reading a file and then reaching into her bag to fill a small green envelope, he wondered how she did this. It was so different than what she'd done at the BAU, so much colder. She didn't belong in a unit that dealt with erasing people, she belonged somewhere that allowed the compassion and warmth in her to blossom out. He rose from his seat and moved over to her, sitting down across from her and leaning forward, his arms resting on the table between them, his hands folding together.
"Why am I here?"
She froze mid-motion and licked her lips, before finishing the packing of the envelope and then sealing it. She inhaled deeply through her nose and held it for a moment before looking up at him and releasing it in a gush of emotion. Her slightly teary blue eyes met his and she nodded once while closing her eyes and trying to will up the courage to tell him the reason. She swallowed the lump in her throat and met his eyes with a much firmer stare, "She wants to say goodbye."
He felt like the very soul inside him had been knocked out. Goodbye. It seemed so final. Too final. She would be back; he'd bring her back. She couldn't stay gone forever. He would find a way to make this right. He nodded and turned his head to stare out the window at the bright Parisian lights as they circled to land.
"You can't meet with her in public."
He nodded, his eyes staring out the window but no longer seeing the skyline. His thoughts were with the brunette he'd been missing for over a week, the woman he'd been thinking about continuously. Again flashbacks of Haley intruded on his consciousness; saying goodbye in a hospital, telling her everything he was going to tell Emily, making promises he wasn't sure he could keep.
He pulled his eyes away from the window as JJ slipped her hands under his, "We're doing the right thing, Hotch. We're going to protect her."
"For how long? How long until he finds her and goes after her again? How long before I'm standing over her body in a morgue and wishing I'd been able to protect her?"
JJ's eyes slipped shut as she sighed and squeezed his hands, "She's not Haley, Hotch. He will not get away with this."
The steel in her eyes was the only comfort he was able to draw from that moment. She would do anything to make sure that Emily would be miles away from danger. She would make sure that nothing would happen.
He couldn't remember the last time he'd drank like this. Three tumblers of bourbon later, and he was finally beginning to calm down. The first hour and a half in the room had consisted of endless pacing and thinking; what to say, how to say it, what to do, how he wanted to memorize everything about her so he'd never forget. The second hour had been solid drinking; nothing could make the time go faster than loosing himself in the liquor that was supplied in the room. He studied the amber liquid in the tumbler and released a slow breath.
He closed his eyes and for a moment, prayed. He'd bargained with God before, begging and pleading to keep Haley and Jack safe. He'd gotten half that request, this time there was only one name he was bargaining for. He called upon every deity, every saint, every angel, every soul her could think of and pleaded for them to keep her safe. He tensed as a gentle hand snaked it's way up his arm and across the back of his neck gently, before lips rested against his cheek and he inhaled the scent he'd long been familiar with. He opened his eyes as the tumbler was removed from his grasp and set on the table next to him.
He turned his head and smiled as his brown eyes connected with hers. Her smile matched his for a moment before her eyes dropped and her smile vanished, "Drinking won't make this any less real, Aaron."
He stood from the chair and pulled her into his chest, his arms wrapping around her gently and holding her to his body, letting her feel him shake with emotion and concern while trying to absorb this moment completely. He rested his face against the top of her freshly cut bob of brown hair and inhaled her scent like it was his last breath, "You're not allowed to talk like that. Not tonight. Not with me."
He rubbed her back gently and almost buckled as her arms wrapped around his mid-section and pulled him close, clinging to him with everything she had inside her. He felt the warm, wetness of her tears against his neck and took a shaky breath, trying to keep his at bay while she wept softly against him. "Emily, look at me."
He pulled back and tilted her head up to his, his eyes meeting hers and his heart breaking at the red-rimmed edges and bright tracks going down her cheeks. He caressed her cheek gently and wiped the tracks away with the backs of his fingers before pressing a delicate kiss to her forehead and speaking to her in soft tones, "This is not goodbye. Do you understand me? You are not going away forever. You will be back. I will have you at home with me and Jack. You will be fine. I will get this guy."
Her voice was soft as she rested her hands on each side of his neck, keeping him close, "Don't lie to me. That won't make this easier."
He sighed and moved her to the bed in the hotel room, before sitting down in front of her and clasping her hands in his. He caught her chin in his free hand and kept her focused on him, "Hey, I'm not lying to you. I. Will. Get. This. Guy. There is no negotiation on that. Whatever it takes, I am going to have you safe and home with me soon."
He pressed a gentle kiss to her hands before pulling her between his legs and hugging her middle as gently as possible, remembering the still tender wounds that Doyle had inflicted. Her arms wrapped gently around his head as he hugged her body close and she allowed herself to melt into his touch as he eased her down to sit next to him on the bed. His mouth opened to speak but her fingertips rested against them in a silent gesture to remain silent.
She traced her fingertips gently over his lips and then trailed over his cheek to rest on the side of his neck, "Aaron, I…" She sighed and turned away from him, running a hand through her cropped hair and gathering her thoughts. She knew he had found out about her relationship with Doyle; that he knew about what she'd done. She sighed and kept her eyes focused on the floor in front of her as she spoke in soft tones, "I have so much I want to tell you, but I don't know where to begin." She took a deep breath and joined her hands in front of her, leaning her elbows on her knees, "A while back, I told someone that you can't help who you fall in love with."
She sensed him tense momentarily next to her, before his hand rested over hers, "Did you love him?" His restrained anger echoed through his voice and she chose her next words carefully, knowing she wouldn't want to fight with him tonight, "I loved him because I had to. I didn't get to have a choice." She moved one of her hands to rest on top of his and cradled his hand gently, "He could never be what you are to me. He was a job."
She risked turning her head and met his stormy eyes with her open, vulnerable stare, "I am still me, Aaron. I am still Emily. I've always been Emily with you." She leaned forward and rested her forehead to his, "Do you understand what I'm telling you?" He squeezed her hands and used his free hand to caress the back of her head. He gave a slight nod and cleared his throat, "Emily, I-"
She pressed her lips to his to silence him. She pulled back after several moments and rested her hands on his shoulders, "No more talking." She blinked back the tears that were forming in her large brown eyes and captured his face between her warm palms, "Just love me."
He nodded and met her halfway, their lips melding together softly. Her soft mouth opened against his and he slid his tongue in to meet hers, slowly. They dueled for control gently, drinking in every moment as long as possible, each caress, each kiss, each sigh something that both would want to memorize for the uncertain future ahead of them. His hands slid down her back slowly, trailing across the warm fabric covering her and he delighted momentarily in the way she pressed into him, straining to get closer, get more of him.
He pulled back, staring at her slightly flushed cheeks and kiss-swollen lips with a certain amount of smug male pride that she was his, and ran a hand through her hair, letting the soft silky strands slide through his fingers before he fisted his hand in her hair and brought her mouth to his again. He hauled her close with all the finesse of a caveman and let her cling to him as he made quick work of her shirt, depositing it on the floor next to them.
He pulled his mouth away and kissed a trail down her neck, nuzzling her pulse point and nipping at it gently before continuing down the plane of her chest to the valley between her breasts and pressing a gentle kiss there. His eyes fell upon the brand that had been left upon her and he felt his blood boil, before admiring her strength to endure that and brushing a delicate kiss upon it. He kissed back up to her mouth and over to her ear, murmuring her name softly as he let his gun calloused fingers trace across the soft, alabaster flesh of her back.
Her lips brushed across the side of his neck and quickly divested him of his shirt and undershirt, before gliding her hands over his smooth, muscular chest and back. She groaned softly as he freed her from her bra and eased her back on the bed, his lips nipping and caressing across her, and gently teasing her. She gasped his name softly as he palmed one of her mounds before moving down her torso, gently ghosting over the swollen pink healing wound on her abdomen and continuing down to the button fly of her black jeans. His hands rested on her hips for a moment and she lifted her head to study him as he looked up the length of her body at her.
He smiled and laid his forehead to her stomach for a moment before pressing a kiss there and undoing her pants, before pulling them and her panties down her legs, leaving her bare to him. He crawled up her lithe form, supporting his weight on his arms and pressed a kiss to her lips as one hand slid round her hip and trailed over to where she wanted him most.
He paused and needed every ounce of self control he had in his body as he opened his eyes and studied the woman under him. Her eyes opened lazily and she smiled warmly up at him before running her fingers over his shoulder and speaking in a breathy whisper, "What?"
He licked his lips as he looked at her and swallowed hard, he'd been terrified about this moment; what she would do or say when he opened his soul to her. The words left his lips before he could even register them, his voice throaty and rough, "I love you."
She blinked as a tear slid down her cheek and shook her head as her eyes shut. He repeated it a second time and nuzzled her neck gently, feeling more so than hearing her next words, "I love you too, Aaron."
He grit his jaw and forced himself not to break down as he pressed a kiss to the junction of her throat and collarbone before letting his hand dip into her. She gasped at the exquisite feeling and arched off the bed as best she could, avoiding the pain she was certain she'd be feeling after this. His lips sealed over hers as she whimpered softly and he stroked her slowly, wanting to coax her into oblivion while he watched, listened, felt everything that he was going to be without. He watched with studious eyes as her breathing grew shallow and she bit her lip to silence her cries as her body gave itself up to the pleasure he was bringing her.
She came down slowly and reached for him, pulling him flush against her and kissing him languidly, "I need you, Aaron. I want to remember this always."
He nodded slowly and quickly rid himself of his remaining clothing before covering her body with his once more and moving her hair back from her face, tucking it behind her ear and resting his forehead to hers, "Say it again."
She gave a breathy chuckle before pressing her lips to the skin in front of his ear and murmuring her love for him once more, gasping mid-sentence as he slid into her and began to move. She gripped his sides tight in her hands and pressed her chest into his as he glided over her in precise, steady strokes. Their union was unhurried and for once in her tumultuous life she felt at peace; like everything was going to be fine. She let herself get carried away in the feelings he stirred within her, the dreams that she knew would never be fulfilled but would cling to anyway, the fantasies that she'd carried for so long before him, and would now have to survive on without him. She gasped her release into his mouth as he kissed her hard and joined her as they tumbled over the cliff together, her name being chanted like a prayer from his lips over and over before silence engulfed the room.
He panted softly and rolled them to their sides, keeping her close to him, keeping their connection for as long as possible, and groaning as he slipped out of her, "Emily, you are going to come back to me. I need to hear you say it. I need for you to believe it."
Her hand rested over his heart as she nuzzled her head under his chin and cuddled close to him, trying to wring each second she possibly could from this, "I do, Aaron. I will come back to you."
Whether or not she believed it enough for him, he treasured the fact that she'd said it; that in this moment, she wasn't another agent running for her life, another woman he could lose to the hands of a serial killer, she was his woman, his life, and she would be back, no matter what it cost him.