A/N: Yes, it's my second story of the night. Well, this one originated for a rabid plot bunny that gnawed on my brain until I gave it. Again, only just typed it up, and Neenie insisted that I put it up here. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: If this were mine, these people would not be doing what they are doing in the story. They'd be...elsewhere, doing...other things.
Silence is only awkward if you make it so.
Emily Prentiss could not help feeling awkward. It had been a long time since she had been on a commercial jet, but she had run out of comments on the differences about an hour ago, and there were still two hours left in the flight. Silence stretched between herself and the man next to her for twenty minutes now, and tension had been growing the whole time.
Hotch—Aaron, Emily corrected herself, knowing any slip-ups could have terrible results—had his chin resting in his hands, his elbows on the arms of his seat. He looked bored, and Emily bit her lip, feeling inexplicably guilty.
His tongue slid out and wet his lips. Emily had to tamp down fiercely on a squeak as a stab of desire flashed through her. How was she going to survive this?
How was he going to survive this? Maybe it was a mistake to agree to this, but, then again, no one else had been available.
Years of hiding his feelings from her were heading down the drain. Why, oh why did they have to be disguised as a couple?
Logically, he knew that a couple on vacation would stand out less than two friends, and, given the situation, it was safer this way, anyway. They were to give the area a precursory look-over, to see if they could collect more information than had been given to them. Strauss had felt that the pre-team would do best undercover, and Hotch had conceded the point, agreed, even.
Now, though, he was regretting that decision. Being placed into this situation at all would have been bad enough; he had never been a good actor. But being in this situation with Emily Prentiss? He wasn't sure if it was a Godsend or if his life was about to go to Hell in a handbasket.
He couldn't help thinking about her; the contrast of her black hair and porcelain skin, her sparkling brown eyes, the soft, happy smile he'd seen so few times, the shirt she was wearing right then, the way it dipped down, almost to the point of too far…
He unconsciously wet his lips as he hoped that his emotions weren't showing on his face. If he got through this without doing something incredibly stupid, he'd be very, very surprised.
The hotel room presented another awkward moment. It was for two, a couple, and it was just that, a room, not a suite. One bed. No couch.
"I'll take the floor," Hotch offered.
Impulsively, Emily shook her head. "No, that wouldn't be fair. We can share the bed." She felt her cheeks burn, but held Hotch's—Aaron's gaze.
He smiled—that beautiful, happy grin—and nodded. The rest of the day was given over to unpack and planning, and when they went to bed, the only thing Emily felt was wrong was the distance between their bodies.
Holding her hand was perfect and awful at the same time. Their hands fit together as if they had been made for each other, and the simple touch sent joy and heat racing through his veins. He knew, though, that it wouldn't last, and the sick anticipation of the day this charade would end almost ruined the moment. Almost.
She had offered her hand almost shyly the second day and he had caught it up in his own immediately. They had spent every moment outside the hotel room with their hands clasped, and sometimes he got the feeling that she never wanted him to let go.
Five days in was when things got interesting. They were wandering the city, doing what Emily called "touristy things"—the phrase had made Hotch smile—and speaking in low voices about the information they'd gathered, when Emily's foot got caught.
Hotch let go of Emily's hand and wrapped his arms around her waist as she fell forward.
"Are you okay?" he asked softly in her ear.
"I think so," Emily said. "Just twisted my knee."
"'Just'?" Hotch questioned. "In my book, that's not a 'just'."
Emily released her foot from the crack she'd gotten caught in. "It used to happen to me all the time," she said, testing her weight on the leg. The blood drained from her face and she gritted her teeth.
"Emily?" Hotch said, concerned.
"I'll be fine, Aaron," she replied.
Hotch looked carefully at her, then wrapped on arm around her waist. "Lean on me," he said. "We'll go back to the hotel."
Stubbornly not looking at him, Emily put some of her weight on Hotch at every other step. He suddenly realized how tired she looked, and wondered if the constant acting was stressing her out. They had walked pretty far today, too, so that might explain it.
They had been on the bus for ten minutes, and Emily was already asleep. Her head was resting on Hotch's shoulder, heavy in sleep, and her face was turned up, peaceful and relaxed. Hotch reached out with his left hand, the one not supporting Emily's head, and gently stroked her cheek.
Her skin was warm and soft, and Hotch suddenly could not stop touching her. His fingers slid across her cheek, down her jaw, across her throat. He was hit with a sudden mental image of Emily, her hair curled softly, her eyes sparkling as she smiled, her belly swollen with a child, their child.
Fiercely, he fought the image away. He would not presume; he would not make assumptions about Emily's feelings. He simply had to wait and see.
Unconsciously, his hand had been stroking across her neck, and he hadn't realized that she had woken up. As he fought the images crashing through him, his hand slid lower.
His head snapped around. Emily was looking up at him with wide, surprised brown eyes. He realized where his hand was and pulled back as if the soft flesh had scorched him.
"I—I'm sorry," he stammered. "I didn't—didn't know you were—"
Emily looked irritated. Hotch didn't blame her; he'd pretty much groped her as she slept. "Shut up," she said, and moved suddenly.
Expecting a slap, Hotch flinched backwards, only to find his progress impeded by her hand on his tie. She hauled him in and mashed her lips to his, kissing him hard. Half a second of stiff shock later, he relaxed into the kiss and took the control she was offering.
It was fierce, passionate, hot, and long, and left both of them breathless. "Don't be sorry," Emily whispered. "That had to be the best way I've ever been woken up."
This earned her another kiss, which led to them almost missing their stop. Emily limped off the bus ahead of Hotch, descending the steps painfully in front of the hotel. Acting on impulse, Hotch swept her off the ground and into his arms.
Emily laughed in surprise. "What the hell are you doing?" she demanded.
"Taking care of you," Hotch replied, and carried her into the hotel.
After several protests that she could walk, she wasn't that hurt, all of which Hotch ignored, Emily stopped speaking and settled against Hotch's chest, allowing him to cradle her like the precious burden he thought she was.
She smiled contentedly, wrapping her arms around his neck and pressing her head into his chest. The silence they walked in, and sat in when they were back to their room, was no longer awkward, Emily realized. With this no longer a secret, with it out in the open, with the knowledge and understanding they now shared, the silence was peaceful, calm. Emily relaxed on the bed as Hotch applied towel-wrapped ice to her knee, and grinned wryly at him. "I think they planned this," she said.
Hotch laughed. "Everyone but Strauss."