A/N: This is the follow up to my OS "Say Goodbye". I got a lot of really great feedback on that piece and was asked to do a sequel. It's going to be MULTI-CHAPTER so sign up for Alerts. ;) Hope you all like it. Beta'd by my favorite fellow nerd Patty. Read and Review.
Disclaimer: Own nothing.
"If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. And if they don't, they never were." - Khalil Gibran
It wasn't odd for him to be in office late anymore. Not when he'd spent the better part of the past two and a half years searching out Doyle and what remained of his team and doing everything in his power to make sure they'd been taken care of. To say he'd been driven would be an understatement. He'd been downright vicious in his pursuit of Ian Doyle; almost bordering on obsessive. If he were to be honest, the whole team had been dedicated to doing everything in their power to capturing him; but he'd taken it personally. He'd lost Haley to Foyet and he wasn't about to let Emily suffer the same fate; this time, he had been willing to go above and beyond anything he could to end it.
He'd spent months, working with JJ and the state department on tracking down Doyle's son. He'd known that the boy would be the next crucial target. Garcia and Kevin had been influential in gathering intel and hacking every known system, running the boy's age progressed photo through every databank conceivable, leaving no stone unturned, no possible idea left untouched; if they thought of it, they tried it. Doyle would be using his countless resources and Hotch knew they'd have to be a step ahead of them. JJ had been the major case breaker though; the contacts she'd made in the State department had been the ones to help crack the case wide open and guide them to the location that Emily had moved him to.
The fact that they'd found Declan before Doyle was one of the biggest triumphs of the case. He'd grown up as just another plain kid in Cottonwood, Idaho; his memories of his father had been referred to as dream-like memories of another life. He remembered Emily though and that hadn't surprised Hotch. Emily was one of those women that you never forgot. When the severity of the case had been explained to young Declan and his 'mother', they understood what Declan's role in the take down would have to be. He'd have to be the bait.
He'd always pictured it ending in a tremendous blood bath, some violent graphic commentary on how Doyle had lived his life; but ultimately, his son had been his undoing. They'd been ready for Doyle when he arrived and they'd taken him down with minimal loss to their side. He'd been underprepared for the numbers they brought; for the vengeance he personally sought for Emily. Each team member backed the story that Hotch had needed to fire to protect Declan's life; and each team member knew he'd shot to vindicate their fallen team-mate.
He signed the final team statement and closed the file, dropping it on his stack of outgoing files and leaned back in his chair. He thought of her constantly; at night when he'd be home with Jack, in his hotel room while working a case, in his office when he'd look out at what had once been her desk. She was never far from his mind, and now, with all that had transpired, he wondered if she'd be coming back. If she would ever return to him as they'd discussed that night in Paris so long ago. The knock on his door shook him from his thoughts and he lifted his head to his guest, nodding at Dave with his eyebrows knit together.
"Aaron, the new agent's here."
He nodded to Dave with a sigh and cast a final look at Emily's old desk. Finding and keeping BAU team members had been difficult since she'd left. Trying to replicate the magic that the team once had, the lightening in a bottle that they'd captured at one time, was appearing to be more than impossible. 3 agents had come and gone over the past two and a half years. One after another lacked the discipline, the drive, the knowledge, the mysterious x-factor that had made the team click when they'd had JJ and Emily. He sighed and gathered his suit coat, pulling it on and heading out of the office with Dave, letting his feet lead him on instinct to the office of Erin Strauss.
He knocked once and waited for her to call her assent before opening the door and entering the room with Rossi. The door clicked shut behind the two men and they nodded, rocking on their heels as Erin stayed seated at her desk with the new agent seated across from her, her back facing them. Hotch observed the chestnut brown head and mentally rolled his eyes, another brunette. Another one of Strauss' imitations. Seaver still was trying to live down the comparisons to JJ, and now this poor girl would have to do the same with the memory of Emily.
"Agents Rossi and Hotchner, I've given this a lot of thought. The BAU requires a certain strength from their agents; an ability to rebound from the things they see and experience."
Hotch and Rossi nodded their agreement and shared a look of confusion before returning their attention Strauss as she continued her introduction. "That's why I personally sought out this agent. She's an experienced profiler, and has had her share of seeing the worst of humanity. I think you're both going to be pleased with her abilities." She turned her head to the woman in the chair and gave a slight incline of her head, "Agents, I believe you are already familiar with SSA Emily Prentiss."
30 months. 130 weeks. 912 days. It'd been that long since he'd seen her face; but as she rose from the chair and turned to face the two men in the room, he felt as if not a day had gone by. His mouth felt like cotton as he stared at her for what seemed like minutes, but had only been a few short moments. He ran his eyes over her long, lean figure and couldn't help the smile that blossomed on his face. She smiled back and took a tentative step forward towards the men before being engulfed in Rossi's arms, hugging him back tight and laughing softly as he spoke to her.
He released her and she turned to Hotch, her breath shaking as she bit her lip before moving to stand a breath away from him. "Agent Hotchner." She extended her hand cautiously, prepared to keep up all pretenses from before her leaving, and gasped in surprise as he leaned forward and pulled her flush against him, burying his head in her now grown out locks and holding her to him tightly.
She nuzzled his neck gently and pulled back, putting enough professional distance between them before caressing his cheek gently and letting her thumb trace his cheekbone. "You're back." It was a statement more than a question and she nodded her affirmation, "I am." He sighed and looked at her then past her to Strauss, before looking back at her with serious eyes, "For good?" She smiled and nodded her head, "Looks that way." She chuckled at his shell-shocked expression and then turned to Rossi, "God, if this is how you two handle it, I can't imagine what PG is going to do." Rossi chuckled and shoved his hands in his pockets, "It's going to memorable, I'll bet on that." He winked at her and sighed, "Good to have you back, Emily."
Her eyes stayed glued to Hotch's as she sighed and nodded, "It's good to be back."