Believe Me

A/N: I'm not sure why, but the song "Believe Me" by Ellie Goulding inspired me to write this. Listen to the song and maybe it will help you get into my head a bit, even if you don't understand my particular brand of crazy you will at least have found an amazing new song to obsess over. Anyway, this will be a long story, it is my first (posted at least) so be kind, but also give me constructive criticism (constructive being the key word there…) I'll probably post about one chapter a week, my life is ridiculous and I've been ignoring my CM blog so this is my new outlet since I can't make graphics on my iPad during class and pretend like I'm taking notes but I can write…so here goes….please be kind!

xo, JJ

P.S. Every chapter is named after a song, (I'm a MASSIVE music nerd) sometimes the title is all that matters and the lyrics make no sense and sometimes the lyrics are all that matters and the title may make no sense and sometimes just one or two lines make sense. So you can take a musical journey with me or you can just ignore the chapter titles, either way I hope you enjoy my CM altverse!

Chapter 1: Lingering Still (She & Him)

Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future. We make discoveries about ourselves. ~ Gail Lumet Buckley

November 2011

"Ella!" Emily yelled as her three-year-old daughter bolted up the stairs in the BAU bullpen. Emily hurried after the little girl, luckily everyone in the office was used to Ella, she was adored by even the gruffest of FBI agents, she caught up to Ella and couldn't help but smile at the scene before her eyes. Ella had made her way to her favorite person's office, Emily smiled at the sight of Ella sitting on her boss' lap and explaining to him something of extreme importance in the world of a three year old. Hotch's usually stoic face was replaced by a rare smile as Ella reenacted her story.

"Hey, Hotch. Sorry about her barging in on you like that." Emily said, making her way over to Ella to grab her.

"Don't worry about it. The distraction was welcome." Hotch said, the sincerity evident in the smile still present on his face.

Emily smiled back, "Come on Ella, it's time to go. Say goodbye to Hotch." She said, offering her hand to the little girl. Before getting down, Ella turned to Hotch and threw her arms around him. "Bye." Ella said, throwing her arms around his neck and hugging him tightly. Hotch hugged her back and then helped her back to the ground where she grabbed on tightly to her mother's extended hand.

"You heading home?" Emily asked him.

"No. Jack's with his grandparents tonight so I thought I'd stay and finish up some paperwork since I'm alone for the night." Hotch responded.

Ella took the opportunity to jump in to the conversation, "You should come with us!" She said excitedly.

Hotch smiled again, "Thanks for the offer Miss Ella but you should spend some quality time with your Mom."

"PLEASE?" Ella begged, "Mommy doesn't mind. Tell him, Mommy." Ella said, looking up at Emily, her expression indicating that she wanted Emily to invite Hotch.

Emily contemplated for a moment, she enjoyed spending time with Hotch, quite a lot actually, and she wanted to appease Ella, but time spent outside work with Hotch always brought about the more than friends feelings she had been harboring for her superior for years.

In the end, making Ella happy won out.

"Come on Hotch, you've gotta eat sometime. You can always finish up paperwork on Monday." She said, smiling warmly at him.

Hotch looked at Emily and then at Ella, who looked as though she was about to burst from anticipation. He was hungry and he always enjoyed spending time with Emily and Ella, he supposed the paperwork could wait.

"All right. Just give me a few minutes to pack some things in my briefcase for the weekend.

An hour later he arrived at Emily's, knocking on the door of her brownstone he was greeted by an overly excited three-year-old.

Hotch smiled down at the little girl, she was quite the child, always happy and smiling. Akin to her mother, she possessed long dark hair and big dark brown eyes, but Hotch's favorite quality of Emily's that Ella had inherited was her laugh, she had a beautiful laugh. Her laughter always managed to make Hotch smile, it was the infectious kind of laughter, it just overtook you and made you feel lighter. Hotch, and usually Jack, who considered Ella to be somewhat of a little sister, were always thrilled to spend quality time with Ella.

"Come on!" Ella said, grabbing Hotch's hand and leading him to the kitchen.

"Hey. I hope you're hungry." Emily said with a smile as Hotch and Ella entered the kitchen.

Hotch couldn't help but smile, Emily compartmentalized so well that she managed to separate herself completely between the hard ass BAU agent she was at work and the maternal side she wore so well when she was with her daughter. Here she wasn't Supervisory Special Agent Emily Prentiss, intelligent and strong FBI profiler with nerves of steel, here she was Emily Prentiss, caring and loving mother. Hotch enjoyed seeing this side of her.

"Starving." Hotch said, eliciting smiles from both Prentiss girls. "What can I do to help?" He asked, taking off his jacket and setting it across a chair.

Emily knew it was useless to argue with him that he was their guest and he didn't need to help, she knew how that argument would end so she just skipped to the end, "I'm just about done with the pasta but you can grab us some drinks. There's juice in there for Ella and there's some wine in the pantry if you want to open up a bottle, I know I could use a glass."

Hotch opened the refrigerator, "So Miss Ella, would you prefer grape or cranberry apple?"

"Cranberry apple!" Ella said happily.

Hotch took the drink and poured it into Ella's favorite cup, fastening the lid tightly to ensure she didn't spill.

"Red or white?" Hotch called to Emily after opening the pantry and noting a few bottles of wine to choose from.

"Uhh…white." Emily answered.

"White it is." Hotch said, grabbing a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and heading back out to the kitchen.

"Oooh good choice." Emily said with a smile, after noticing his selection.

Hotch uncorked the bottle and poured glasses for Emily and himself while Emily piled the fettuccini she had made onto three plates. "Ella, come grab your plate." She yelled.

The three made their way into the living room, Hotch knew their Friday routine as he and Jack had been invited to their Friday dinner and a movie night quite a few times. "So what movie are we watching, Ella?" Hotch asked.

Ella held up a dvd, grinning from ear to ear. Hotch read the title, "Ghostbusters," he let out a small laugh, "good choice, you're becoming more and more like your Mom every day." He said, the smile still bright on his face.

Emily smiled and laughed along with Hotch, he was definitely right; sometimes she didn't know if that was a good or bad thing.

Ella put the dvd in and sat down right in between Emily and Hotch, scooting up to the very front of the sofa so she could eat her food.

The three ate their dinners and watched the movie, making casual conversation every once in a while but mostly just enjoying the silent presence of each other while they watched the movie. When the movie ended, Ella was fast asleep and had snuggled herself into Hotch's side. He gently picked Ella up and took her to her bedroom, Emily following closely behind. Emily pulled back the covers on Ella's bed and Hotch laid her carefully on it, kissing her on the forehead before he left the room.

After Emily tucked Ella in, she and Hotch both made their way out to the hallway.

Emily spoke first, "Thanks for helping me put her to bed. And…thanks for coming over tonight, Ella just adores you."

Hotch smiled, "The feeling is mutual. And thanks for inviting me, I had a great time."

"Ella and I were planning on going to the park on Sunday since it's been so oddly warm, so if you're up for it, I know Ella would love it and she's been dying to see Jack." Emily said, trying to sound casual when inviting him out.

"Jack's been talking about Ella too, the park sounds good, I'm sure he'll be excited." Hotch replied.

Emily smiled. "Good. Then I'll see you Sunday."

"Bye." Hotch said, smiling back at her as he walked out.

Emily shut the door behind him and turned around and leaned back against it, exhaling heavily.

Sunday came around and Emily was woken up at six by a heavy feeling on her chest. She opened her eyes to see Ella's big brown eyes staring down at her as she sat on her stomach. Emily smiled up at her daughter, "Hi baby." She said, grabbing Ella and pulling her down next to her in bed for a hug. Ella giggled as Emily placed kisses on Ella's face, pulling the little girl close to her.

"Why are you up so early?" Emily asked, shutting her eyes as Ella curled her head into the crook of Emily's neck.

"Because we're going to the park!" Ella said, her voice still full of excitement but being in Emily's warm bed was clearly sending her back to sleep.

"El, we're not going to the park until this afternoon. We've got a long time, it's Sunday sweetie, today we get to sleep in." Emily said, yawning.

"But I want to see Jack." Ella said, trying to keep her eyes open but obviously about to fall back asleep as well.

"Sweetie you'll get to spend all afternoon with Jack, I promise. Can we please go back to sleep for a little while?" Emily begged, her voice fading as she slowly fell back to sleep,

"Okay." Ella agreed, clearly half asleep as well.

Ella and Emily arrived at the park at one o'clock, both well-rested and ready to go, they spotted Hotch and Jack in the parking lot and Ella bolted for them as soon as Emily let her out of her car seat.

"Jack!" Ella screamed running toward him at full speed.

"Hi Ella!" Jack said, clearly just as excited to see Ella.

Jack was two years older than Ella but they had always enjoyed playing together. They were like siblings, Jack looked out for Ella and Ella looked up to Jack, it was a good relationship for both of them.

"Can we go play in the sand?" Jack asked, looking up at Hotch.

"Of course buddy, have fun." Hotch said, smiling at his son as Jack grabbed Ella's hand as they made their way over to the sandbox.

Emily and Hotch followed close behind and made themselves comfortable on a bench a few feet away from the kids. They knew they would be forced to make countless trips down slides and through playground equipment so they took advantage of the little time they had to sit down.

"So how was your weekend?" Emily asked, starting out with casual conversation.

"Uneventful, Jack and I stayed home and hung out yesterday. It's nice to have some downtime with him." Hotch replied.

"That sounds nice, yesterday I had to take Ella to get new tennis shoes. God, that was an ordeal. I think she tried on twenty pairs. That turned into a longer trip then I originally planned. We also had an intense game of hide and go seek. Ella won. She's good." Emily said, smiling over at Ella.

"You mean you let her hide and you sat on the sofa and read for twenty minutes?" Hotch said, trying to stifle a laugh.

Emily started laughing too, "God, I'm terrible, aren't I?"

"Hey, you're there for the important stuff. Don't sell yourself short." Hotch said, looking right at her, the grin on his face still present but the sincerity evident in his eyes.

Emily smiled back at him, "Thanks, Hotch."

The two talked for about twenty minutes until the kids decided they wanted to go on the swings.

"MOMMY!" Ella screamed as she ran the short distance to Emily and Hotch and full speed, Jack right there with her. "Will you push us on the swings? Please?" Ella begged, grabbing Emily's hand and pulling her toward the swings.

Jack did the same with Hotch, "Come on Dad!" He said, dragging Hotch with him to follow Ella and Emily to the swing set.

Jack and Ella jumped into two swings and waited for their parents to start pushing. Emily and Hotch started pushing the kids on the swings. Their laughter as they soared higher echoed throughout the park.

Emily smiled to herself, she loved days at the park with Ella, Jack, and Hotch. It was a nice reminder of the innocence in life as opposed to the darkness they came across every day in their jobs.

Emily's thoughts were soon interrupted by Ella who yelled, "Switch! I want Hotch to push me because he makes me go higher!"

"Hey, you're going just as high as Jack!" Emily said, pretending to be offended.

"Yeah but since I'm lighter and Hotch is stronger he can push me higher!" Ella said, the look she gave Emily was one that said, 'You should already know this.'

Emily laughed, "All right, Jack is it cool if I push you?"

Jack nodded eagerly, he didn't care who pushed him, he just wanted to swing.

Emily and Hotch switched placed and they began to push the kids again.

Ella's squeals of delight could probably be heard from miles away.

After spending quality time on the swings the children ventured to the jungle gym and all four of them spent the rest of their day playing games on it.

Finally it was time to leave, Jack was tired and Ella was clearly fighting the urge to fall asleep right there.

They walked to the cars and said their goodbyes.

"Bye Jack." Ella said, giving him a big hug, which the little boy reciprocated.

"Bye Ella." Jack replied then moving to Emily.

"By Emily, thanks for inviting us." Jack said, hugging Emily.

"Anytime kiddo." Emily said with a smile, giving the little boy a kiss on the forehead.

Ella was saying goodbye to Hotch at the same time, "Will you come over again soon? I like it when you come over. And will you bring Jack next time?"

Hotch laughed, "We will try to hang out as soon as possible Miss Ella. I like coming over too." He said with a smile, then kissing the little girl on the forehead as she threw her arms around him to pull him into a big hug.

"All right, Ellabella. Into the car." Emily said, grabbing Ella who willingly held her hands up for her Mom to pick her up.

Hotch helped Jack into his seat at the same time. Both adults then turned around.

Hotch spoke first, "See you tomorrow, Emily."

"Bye." She said with a smile. She loved it when he called her Emily, something he only called her outside of work.

They got into their cars and drove off, all four content with the day of play they had.

Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one. ~ Jane Howard

REVIEW PLEASE! I want to know what you think! Good things? Please?