Part Five – Evidence Of Change
Fanficlover: There was no need to apologize and in the end it wasn't any real trouble. Chapter four was my way of saying thank you to you, since I couldn't do it the traditional way as you are an anon reviewer… And besides, it taught me that I can actually go back and rework things, which is something I hadn't ever tried to do before. Thank you again and I hope in the future I can keep writing stories that you enjoy so much.
Hotch walked into the bathroom, half dressed and grabbed a dry towel off the rack. He rubbed it vigorously against his hair, trying to dry off the last of the water from the very pleasant shower he shared with Emily. Returning the towel to the rack her ran his fingers through his still damp hair and tried to tame it.
Finally giving up on the little bits of his hair that always insisted on sticking up, he walked over to his… well, he didn't really know what to call her just yet… and wrapped his arms around Emily's waist. He closed his eyes at the sensation of her soft skin pressed against his chest, where it peaked out from between the open front of his dress shirt.
He quickly pulled away from her, enjoying the feeling a little too much, buttoning his shirt and tucking it into his pants. He fingered the missing button threaded and tried to remember what happened to it. It was his last clean suit and he didn't have time to get the pants fixed before they left Phoenix.
Emily noticed his preoccupation and stopped her own preparations. She turned away from the mirror and gave him an enquiring look. "What's the matter?"
Hotch looked around the room, and answered her in a distracted manner. "I lost the button on my pants."
Emily turned away from him to hide the smile on her lips. She didn't think he would have noticed the button ricocheting off the floor in his excitement to get his pants undone earlier. She peered about the room until she spotted it near the bath tub, bending over to pick it up she turned back to him with a triumphant look on her face.
"Still doesn't help that it's not attached to my pants." There was obvious amusement in his voice and this too was something new from him. Emily wasn't sure how much there was to Aaron Hotchner that he didn't let the team see and she found herself excited to find out.
But for now they had more pressing concerns. She thought about it for a moment before turning and digging through her kit. She finally found the safety pin she was looking for and plunked herself down on the toilet seat.
"Come here." Hotch moved over to her and watched fascinated as she used the pin to fasten his pants together before giving him a soft pat on the stomach.
"There you go. Your belt should hide the pin." She tipped her head back and looked up at him and he had a flash from the night before of her in a very similar position.
Quickly taking a step back from her he picked up his belt from the floor, hoping that she wouldn't notice his returning desire. "Thank you."
She shrugged her shoulders, "It's nothing, it'll hold for now but you might want to change when we get on the jet." He gave her a curious look. "Well, you have before."
"And you noticed that?" The look that he gave her was teasing and light.
Emily could feel the blush moving up her neck and rushed back over to her kit, trying to distract herself. "I notice a lot of things."
Aaron pulled her back into his arms and pressed a soft kiss to the back of her head. He slowly pulled away, trying to get back to collecting his own clothing while still covertly watching her.
She stood in front of the mirror in nothing but her white bra and panties and sporting a silly happy smile on her face. He grinned with no small amount of humor as he watched her fingering the marks on her neck again. She seemed to be completely fascinated with them and he found it endlessly amusing.
Reaching around her his grabbed his tie and draped it around his neck. Aaron let out a soft chuckle as her eyes followed the trail of red, mesmerized with the fabric, and pulled her back into his arms. She truly was delightful and he was looking forward to learning everything he could about her… including her newfound fascination with his ties.
"You know, we are likely going to be late for the jet if we don't get moving." He pressed a kiss to her temple and murmured the words against her skin.
The smile she gave him was slightly shy as she looked back into the mirror. "Everyone is going to know what I was doing."
"Yes." His hand traveled in a slow caress down her arm to her hip, pulling her closer to him as he leaned down and pressed several open mouth kisses to her shoulder and neck. Now that he had a taste of her, he found himself craving the feeling of her flesh under his lips.
"And you're okay with that?" She raised her eyebrows as he turned his head and his eyes met hers in the mirror. "They won't know it was you."
She seriously couldn't believe that this man she had met in the last 12 hours would be perfectly okay with letting anyone believe that she looked like this as a result of another man.
Hotch pulled back slightly at that and his brow furrowed as he considered that statement. He had no issue with everyone knowing about them but it was all still so new. He wasn't ready to share it yet, not only the change in his relationship with her but the changes he could feel within himself. But at the same time he didn't want anyone to think that anyone other than him had caused the marks on her neck and the look of happiness in her eyes.
He thought for a couple of moments and then smiled as an idea came to him. Without a word he turned and left the bathroom.
He pointed at the bed as he passed. "Is that what you're wearing today?"
"Yes. Why?" She leaned out of the bathroom door and watched as he moved across the room.
"I'll be back in a minute." And the door closed behind him as he left.
Emily heard the door shut and felt that same strange sensation of having stepped into the rabbit's hole once again. She tried to push the feeling away and continued to get ready as if he hadn't come back to begin with. She supposed that this was one of the things she was going to have to get used to if she was going to be involved with Aaron. The man brought a whole new meaning to the word 'taciturn'.
She grinned with the thought that it was something she would have to get used to, that she had that chance now. Shrugging her shoulders she returned to the bathroom and getting ready. If there was one thing her life had taught her it was how to just go with the flow.
Aaron tugged on the end of his tie and tried to force the offending piece of fabric to behave the way that it had that morning when he first put it on. The thought of why it was off since then brought a smile to his face and he decided not to fuss with it just as the doors opened.
And he came face to face with David Rossi.
Oh… This was not good.
Dave gave Hotch a curious look at his less than perfect appearance and was going to shrug it off till he saw the look in the other man's eyes. He looked like he had been cornered and Dave being Dave just had to know what caused that look.
He carefully blocked the exit to the elevator with his body and placed a hand on the door, preventing it from closing. "Heading for the station?"
Aaron's eyes flitted about as he looked for a means to escape. "Yeah… ah… in a bit I will."
"Well, all I have to do is grab my bag and check out." Dave could feel his lips threatening to twitch at the panicked look in the other man's eyes. "Give me a minute and I'll go with you."
Aaron could see the wheels turning in the other man's mind and there was no way in hell he was going to be stuck inside a moving vehicle with him for any length of time. Slowly, he started to inch his way around his friend attempting to beat a hasty retreat until he had time to gain a little composure. His emotions at the moment were still a little too unsettled and he knew he would crack under the grilling he would get from Rossi.
"I actually have a couple of stops to make first so I'll catch up with you at the station." With that Hotch turned and bolted for the lobby doors.
Dave raised his eyebrows at the whole exchange before climbing into the lift. He had to wonder if Aaron realized that not only did he not have his bag or keys but if he had to guess right he wasn't armed either. Where on earth did the man think he was going?
There was something going on and he contemplated what it could be as he watched Hotch move across the lobby towards the front doors. He couldn't remember the last time he had seen Aaron Hotchner moving with that kind of relaxed gate. If anything, after the events of yesterday, the man should still be wound tighter than a wristwatch, he always was when they had a case that put one of them in the line of fire. Aaron could take up to a week to wind down again and given that it was him on the line...
Something had changed since he left the station last night. As the doors closed in front of Dave, he came to the conclusion that his dear old friend was keeping a secret.
Oh, this was going to be so much fun, he thought as a smile crossed his lips.
Aaron leaned against the wall outside the hotel and took a deep breath. For some reason it had never occurred to him as he left Emily's room that he might run into someone from the team. He thumped his head against the hard brink behind him. And as a result of that oversight, the secret he wanted to keep was on the verge of getting out before he wanted it to.
Dave could be relentless when something caught his attention and just that little bit of time in the elevator told him that Dave knew something was going on. Aaron just wondered how long it was going to take him to figure out what.
Pushing away from the wall, he shook out his arms and did his best to put the thought out of his head. As he moved down the street he focused on Emily and his reason for being away from her. He just prayed that the shop he was looking for was where he thought it was.
Hotch eased the door closed behind him as he spoke. "I'm back."
As he took in her appearance he sucked in a deep breath at her normal polished appearance. How on earth was he going to put this back into a box when they were working? He saw her like this every day and for some reason all he could think about right now was messing her back up again. He was going to be in so much trouble if he didn't get a handle on this.
That thought alone cause him to grin. "Are you just about ready to go?"
Emily was clipping on her holster as Hotch opened the door to her room. She glanced over at him before picking up her suit jacket off the bed. "Yes. I think everything is packed back up. We can go as soon as you are ready." As she slipped the garment over her shoulders she turned to face him, smiling at the relaxed peaceful look on his face.
Aaron glanced over at the bed and saw what she was talking about and felt a lump in his throat. His go-bag was repacked and resting next to hers on the floor. His gun, credentials and keys were laid out for him and resting on the foot of the bed. This was something he was just realizing he missed terribly, simple domesticity.
The fact that he found it with this woman was astounding, just as much so as how they seemed to easily fall into the roll. She seemed completely at ease with him, his presence, the way he moved in and out of the room, just accepting and he was so very grateful.
"I have something for you." Feeling slightly choked up, he spoke softly as he lifted the black bag he had in his hand.
Emily noted the change in the timbre of his voice and wondered at its cause. There was a new slightly husky quality to it that there hadn't been when he came into the room. As he jiggled the bag lightly she found herself distracted and moved over to him. It was from a boutique just down the street and she was intensely curious as to its contents.
"For me? Why?"
Hotch didn't answer her question just pulled a long length of fabric from the bag and gave her a slightly shy smile as he draped the lace scarf around her neck.
Emily felt the sting of tears in her eyes and did her best to blink them away as he reached around to pull her hair out from the back. Grasping one end of the delicate fabric he dropped it over her shoulder, effectively covering the marks marring her delicate skin.
Soft and pale blue, the sheer fabric had interwoven black threads in it, giving it a deeper hew and if she didn't know better she would have sworn that it was selected specifically to match her black suit and blue shirt. It was stylish and looked just like it had been planned into the outfit beforehand.
She lifted his hand and pressed a lingering kiss to his palm.
"Thank you." Her voice was soft and throaty, reflecting her feelings, that he would have done this for her.
He had taken such time to make sure that it would fit, that it would match what she was already wearing and save her having to answer questions that the item was intended to avoid in the first place.
The only people that might get that it wasn't pre-planned were the team since she never bothered with such frivolous touches before; in their line of work it was hardly practical. But she was banking on the fact that they were on their way home to distract the others from looking too closely and wondering about its addition.
Aaron wrapped his arms around her and dropped a soft kiss to her lips, allowing his forehead to rest against hers. He needed to tell her, explain what he was thinking. He didn't want her past experiences to cause her to misinterpret his gift.
"I love you, Emily. I wanted to tell you last night, but I didn't want you to think that I was simply reciprocating or responding because of the heat of the moment." He pulled back from her slightly, while still keeping her wrapped in his arms, so that she would see the truth of what he was saying in his eyes.
Hotch lifted the end of the delicate fabric and dragged it across her cheek before allowing it to lazily fall back into place. "I'm not embarrassed and I don't want to hide what it is that I'm feeling for you in anyway. I have no problem with the team knowing, with everyone knowing, but at the same time, this is so very new and… precious. I want to enjoy it for a bit before they start to profile and catalogue our every action."
Emily looked down at the scarf and fingered the edges, considering what he said. She couldn't deny the appeal of just being with him, before the questions started. She knew for a fact that there was no way Morgan and Dave wouldn't give them both a hard time.
Using a gentle touch he brought her gaze up to his own. "Are you okay with that?"
She looked up into his eyes and saw a soft glow to them that had never been there before and she decided then and there that she would do anything to keep that look on his face.
"I'm more than okay with it." With that she lifted herself up onto her toes, wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her lips against his own.
In the end Emily opted to take a cab to the airport with Reid rather than going with Hotch to the station. Remembering the look on Rossi's face earlier he was a little relieved by that because he knew with absolute certainty that if the two of them had to spend any time in an SUV with Rossi; he was going to put two and two together. At least on the jet there was the possibility that JJ, Reid and Morgan would all keep him distracted.
As Hotch came out of the station, he headed over the SUV where Morgan was waiting for him, Rossi already sequestered inside. Hotch, felt his lips twitch with a smile as he watched Dave mumbling to himself as he flipped sheet after sheet in a binder. It looked like the man was working on another book, if his intent concentration was anything to go by.
Morgan stood off to the side watching the family of the fallen officer nearby and Hotch knew what was coming before he even said anything.
"Why don't you go on ahead? There's something I need to take care of." As he had suspected, Derek's soft comment reached his ears. Hotch nodded slowly and headed for the SUV. Just as he was about to get it, he stopped.
This is what he would have done. Just let Morgan go off alone to deal with what he was feeling.
For the first time since he because Unit Chief, he had to wonder if that was the right choice. The team already dealt with so much on their own, without help or any kind of real support unless they requested it. Not even from each other in most cases, but just because his team was as strong as they were didn't mean that they wouldn't want the help or even just the knowledge that the others cared enough to offer.
Aaron took a deep breath and turned back to the other man attempting to not look severe and closed off like he normally would have. "Do you want us to stay?"
Derek gave Hotch a questioning look, the same one he had given him repeatedly since he had arrived at the station, as he shook his head. "I'm good man; this is just something I need to do. But thanks."
There was a look of gratitude in Morgan's eyes that told Aaron that his message had been received and that it was the right choice to make. Well, it was a step in the right direction and perhaps the rest would come in time.
There was one last thought, though, "Are you going to be okay getting back?"
"Yeah, sure, I'll fly back commercial after the funeral tomorrow."
Hotch nodded and looked down at the ground, wishing there was something else he could say or do. He knew how much incidents like this one affected Morgan. They all had their cases that caused them more emotional strain than others and this was Derek's.
"Alright, we're wheels up in an hour so we'll see you back in Quantico. Take the time you need, we'll cover till you get back."
Aaron turned back to the SUV, preparing to get in, when Morgan called out to him.
"Hotch, thanks." Derek shifted on the spot for a moment and Hotch might have smile if it hadn't been for the fact that the other man looked so uncomfortable. "And what ever happened with you, since last night…" His voice trailed off, wondering if going further would be overstepping with his reserved leader before deciding to dive in, "it looks good on you."
Hotch's mouth opened as if to say something before his jaw snapped shut. He shoved his glasses onto his face and hurried into the truck. It looked like keeping this quiet was going to be harder than the thought… first Dave and now Morgan.
As he swung himself up into the seat he saw Rossi's teasing laugh out of the corner of his eye. Shoving his key violently into the ignition he snapped at the other man.
"Shut up Dave."
Any sting of the words was taken away by the twitching of his lips.
Emily gingerly climbed up the ramp behind Reid thinking that she was more than grateful that she would be sitting in a few minutes. Her legs were incredibly stiff and her back ached in more than a few places. She just wanted to sit down in one of the molded recliner chairs and relax for the deration of the long flight home.
But in the end she couldn't find it in herself to complain. Aaron truly was a remarkable lover and she wouldn't trade the last day with him for anything in the world and a few twinges were a small price to pay for the pleasure she had found in his arms.
Standing in the doorway and allowing her eyes to adjust to the dim interior of the jet she thought about finally getting home and spending some quality time with her hot tub and its multitude of massaging jets. No sooner had that thought crossed her mind then it was followed by the thought of the kind of use her and Aaron could put her hot tub to.
She almost groaned at the rush of pleasure that the thought brought to her and had the urge to hit her head on something. She was going to have to find a way to compartmentalize those thoughts so that they weren't popping up at more inconvenient times.
She noticed as she moved into the cabin that the only person to have arrived was JJ and raised an eyebrow at the diminutive blond. JJ shrugged her shoulders, telling her that she had no idea why she was there before the others and nodded her head at the chair across from her. Emily was about to head in that direction till she remembered the case files in her bag and the reports she had to fill out before they got back to Quantico. Normally she would have done that the night before but, as it was, she was rather busy at the time.
Closing her eyes with a soft grumble of annoyance Emily lifted her briefcase, indicating that she had work to do, as she moved over to the table seat. It was then that JJ seemed to have finally noticed the scarf around her neck. Her head tipped to the side as she considered her friend. JJ's eyes widened dramatically and her hand slapped up to cover her mouth as a giggle threatened to emerge.
Emily shot the blond a glare, before smile softly as she took her place at the table. To be honest she was happy to see the light in her friend's eyes and her obvious enjoyment as she figured out what had happened after seeing Emily and Hotch in the lobby the evening before. Pulling out her files and preparing for the long flight home she shifted slightly and the momentary discomfort she had from sitting and a grin crossed her lips at the knowledge of why.
She glanced up and JJ caught her gaze, eyes wide and a big grin on her face. The look her friend gave her from the other end of the plane took her breath away. There was a happiness to it that made her incredibly grateful to have such a good friend in the blond woman.
She was practically doing a jig in her seat while trying not to draw attention to herself. Emily breathed out a sigh of relief that at least someone knew. She understood why Aaron wanted to keep things between them for a while and she actually agreed with it but at the same time she wanted to share this with someone with, this, incredible, remarkable thing that had happened to her in the last twelve hours.
JJ was about to stand and make her way over to the table when they heard Rossi lumbering his way into the plane. She quickly plunked herself back in her chair and attempted to look as busy as possible. Dave moved down the aisle and was about to take a seat across from JJ but turned sharply when her hand slapped over her mouth again and her eyes got round as saucers as she looked at the entrance of the airplane.
Emily closed her eyes and let out a groan. It seemed that all of her experience with dealing with pressure and keeping her composure, only extended to the media.
Emily peaked over her shoulder as the hatch closed and the engines started, to see Hotch as spoke to the pilot via the intercom. He turned to the interior and was about to move to his seat when he stopped dead in his tracks as his eyes met JJ's. Emily's eyes jumped from one person to another and watched as they communicated a thousand thoughts without saying a word. Aaron finally tipped his head and gave the blond a small smile before moving to take his place across from Emily at the low table.
Emily glanced over at JJ and Dave as he leaned down to whisper something to her, his look intent on something. JJ managed to contain her smile and drop her hand but whatever it was the Rossi said to her made her shake her head violently before diligently burying her head in a file.
Dave stood and looked over at Emily and noticed her wide eyed stare, his eyes shot from her to JJ, to Hotch and back to Emily again.
She could actually see it.
Could see the way he was connecting the dots just before he eyebrows shot up into his hairline. He smirked at her before fingering his own neck, indicating that he knew that there was something off about the scarf and had a pretty good idea of what it was. Emily did her best to keep her face as calm and composed as she could, giving nothing away. Dave's smirk turned into a smile as he finally took his seat across from JJ.
Emily figured that they had done well, she thought with no small amount of sarcasm. Reid and Morgan still didn't know yet.
When Aaron finally looked up at her Emily saw something that she never thought she would ever see on him, a slight blush staining his cheeks and a shy grin on his lips; and all over the fact that JJ seemed to know more than he wanted her to.
Brotherly love was just so cute she thought with a small laugh.
As she laughed at the look on his face, Aaron decided that retaliation was in order. He slowly leaned back in his chair and braced his legs on either side of her own, making sure that she could feel him.
His hand reached up and fingered the edges of his tie giving her a heated look. Emily blushed deeply and turned to dig in her briefcase, trying to distract herself from the thought of Aaron, her big four poster bed and a multitude of his ties.
She huffed at herself. Somehow in the last twelve hours the man had developed the ability to read her mind and she wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not.
Hotch tapped her leg with his foot as the jet took off, silently asking her to look at him. When she raised her eyes, he gave her a soft smile that she couldn't help to return. Pulling out his files, he turned to his work and she leaned back to watch him for a moment before her own work overtook her thoughts.
She didn't know what was going on with them yet, they didn't have time to really have that talk, but she knew without a doubt that this was going to be interesting. And as the plane leveled out she found herself anxiously wanting whatever it would be, when they finally landed.
Author's Note: So there you have it, the end. I'm going to call this complete for now. But to be honest I have a dozen ideas that could be incorporated into this timeline for when they get home.
The issue I'm having with keeping this going is that the natural conclusion of this story was when they got on the jet. If I continue with this story I have no idea how it would end and I don't want it to just tapper off when I run out of ideas and never really reach any kind of a conclusion.
So for now, I'm gonna mark it complete and keep the idea rattling around in my head to see if I can come up with some sort of alternate ending that I'm happy with and if I can I'll revisit this in the future (because wow… I have lots of yummy ideas for Hotch).
Again, I would like to say a very, very, very heartfelt thank you to everyone who supported this story. Your comments and obvious enjoyment of this story, while having been a complete and total shock for me, meant more than I can ever express. It made writing this story a real joy and like all of you I'm sad to see it end… for now anyway.
I'm thinking on several other ideas and if I can get one of them to actually work into a story you will be seeing more from me in the future.
Thank you for taking the time to read and review and I'll see you on the flip side.
(Go ahead… Hit the button… You know you want to. :-)