HAPPY BIRTHDAY COLLINDA! Here's the final chapter. I hope you have a wonderful day and that the year ahead is filled with much laughter and happiness and good health.
Emily bit back a smile as her fiancee's curt tone resounded from her cell. "Good evening sir, it's Prentiss."
There was a brief pause. "Emily?"
"Hi hon," she said laughingly.
"I'm sorry, sweetheart, I was a little distracted. What's up?"
"I just wanted to check that you know what you have to do tomorrow."
"Uhh..." Hotch sounded puzzled, and more than a little worried.
"Aaron, that's a trick question. You don't need to do anything. You just need to get yourself and the guys to the church on time."
"Oh. I thought maybe you had some last minute tasks for me to do."
"It's all taken care off. Your suits should already be at the suite and the boutonniere should arrive at 11 a.m. Actually, there is one thing you'll need to do."
"You'll need to order some lunch for yourselves tomorrow. Think you can handle that?" she teased.
Hotch laughed. "I think so. Just."
"Good. Cos I really don't want to be having to catch you in my arms if you swoon during the ceremony. And you really don't want to know the wrath of my mother."
"God forbid," he replied dryly.
"All right then, honey. I just wanted to check in with you. I gotta go. The girls and I going to go out to get some pizza. Then we're going to watch Made of Honor. McDreamy's always good for some eye candy."
"It's worrying that I actually know what you're talking about. I'm almost done here. Then I'm going to go straight to the hotel and...wait, did you say Made of Honor? Isn't that the one where the groom gets jilted at the altar?"
Emily grinned. She had made him watch that with her some time ago. "Yep, but relax, honey, the mission is still a go. I repeat, the mission is still a go."
"Ever thought of quitting your job and becoming a stand-up comedian?"
"Every time Morgan and Reid gets into an argument."
Hotch chuckled. "Let's hope they behave tonight." His voice softened. "I can't wait to see you tomorrow."
"Me too. I've missed you so much."
"I've missed you too. I could have sworn that it's been five years, not five days. It must be love." She smiled at the warmth and laughter she could hear in his voice.
"I love you, Aaron."
"And I you. Promise you won't leave me at the altar?"
"Promise. But only cos I'm horny as all get out and only you, Aaron Hotchner, can satisfy me." Her tone was cheeky.
"I always knew you only wanted me for my body."
"Absolutely, baby," replied Emily, laughing. "Your wit is just a bonus. Oops. That's JJ calling me. See you at the church!"
"Morgan, hurry up will you? I want to take a shower before dinner arrives." Reid picked up the tv remote and tightened the belt on his robe before sitting down at the foot of his bed and scrolling through the channels.
He, Morgan and Hotch were sharing a two-bedroom suite which Dave had graciously paid for. Hotch had the master bedroom which had its own ensuite while he and Morgan shared the other room which contained two double beds, also with its own adjoining bathroom.
"Morgan! Are you done yet?"
"Hold your horses, man! It's not that often we get to stay in a five star hotel and I get to be under a rainwater shower head," came Morgan's muffled voice from behind the bathroom door.
"Come on, you've been in there for forty-two minutes and thirty-nine seconds already." Reid sighed. Maybe it had been somewhat precipitous of him to have slipped on the robe. It was a really nice, plush robe though. Egyptian cotton, if he wasn't mistaken. He had only put it on out of curiosity but once it was on, he decided it felt too nice to take off. Sure, there was an extremely high likelihood that Morgan was going to laugh at him, but he didn't care. Over the years he had built up a more than sufficient shield against his team mate's teasing.
The sound of a cellphone buzzing made him turn around. He got up and walked over to shared nightstand and picked up the cell.
One new picture message
"Hey Morgan, you got a text," he called out.
The sound of running water stopped. "Reid, don't open that text."
"Why?" Reid was puzzled.
The door opened. "Reid. Do not open that text message." Morgan emerged, still dripping wet, a towel around his waist.
The younger man looked up at his team mate was was walking around the bed towards him. "I wasn't going to, but now that you're telling me not to, I'm wondering exactly what it is you're trying to hide." He grinned, holding it behind him, just out of Morgan's reach.
"Reid. Give my cell to me. Now," said Morgan threateningly. He reached out for the cell and Reid quickly palmed it off into his other hand.
"Is it your new lady love? Did she just text you a suggestive picture of herself? I'm right, aren't I?" The doctor laughed, holding it high above his head now while Morgan crowded against him, reaching up for the phone.
"Reid, I swear, if you don't give me my cell right this second I'm going to give you a shiner that even the ladies' concealer won't cover. And Emily is going to kill you for spoiling her wedding pics."
Reid was having so much fun at Morgan's expense that he didn't realise that he was right up against the side of his bed. When he leaned back to keep the cell out of Morgan's reach, he fell backwards onto the bed. Morgan immediately leapt on top of him. Grappling furiously with the older man, Reid tried to keep hold of the cell while Morgan tried to pull it out of his hand. They suddenly froze mid-struggle when they heard the sound of a door closing.
"Morgan? Reid?" came a familiar voice from the open doorway to their bedroom. Their Unit Chief appeared in their line of sight.
It was at that moment that Reid experienced what it was like to be part of a frozen tableau. He wasn't known for his creative mind, but he could imagine exactly what Hotch was looking at as he stared at his two subordinates lying on the bed; one in a now opened robe and the other on top of him, wearing just a towel. Seemingly in the throes of passion. Reid looked in horror at his supervisor who was currently sporting a stunned expression on his face, mouth parted in surprise.
Reid wasn't sure how long they remained motionless. It felt like an eternity but it was probably only a few seconds later when Hotch cleared his throat awkwardly, his usual inscrutable expression quickly falling back in place.
"Sorry for intruding. Uh...carry on."
The two agents on the bed watched in amazement at their supervisor when he turned away, then paused, before turning back.
"Just...uh...don't forget to use protection." A few seconds later, the door to his bedroom clicked shut behind him.
Reid hadn't even recovered his ability to speak or move when they heard Hotch's voice again a moment later. For a five-star hotel, the walls were surprisingly thin.
"Emily? Did you know Morgan and Reid were in a relationship?" Pause. "What? What do you mean, it's just sex?" Longer pause. "Oh, I uh...walked in on them." Another pause. "Sorry, I didn't hear that last bit, the joint squealing made me momentarily deaf." Pause. "What? No, they weren't naked! For God's sake! I'm traumatised enough already without adding nudity into the mix." Silence. "I am not telling you the details. And tell Garcia and JJ that their screaming into the phone isn't making me change my mind." Further pause. "What did I say to them? Nothing. Except a reminder to use protection. Why are you all laughing? It's sensible advice. Okay, if you're going to keep laughing hysterically, I'm going to hang up. And Emily, no more wine spritzers. Please."
"Oh my God," moaned Reid, dropping his head back on the bed. "Please, someone, give me my gun because I'm going to shoot myself. And Morgan, for God's sake, will you get the hell off me!"
"Aaron, are you all right?"
Hotch looked at one of his oldest friends and smiled. "I'm fine."
"Are you sure? Your nerves aren't getting the best of you, are they?" asked Dave, looking at him with narrowed eyes.
"You know what? I'm not nervous at all. Weird, huh?" In fact, he was feeling incredibly calm. But that was not to say he wasn't also excited and filled with anticipation on seeing Emily. The day had finally arrived for them to declare their love and commitment to each other before all their family and friends. It was a cliché, but today was truly the beginning of the rest of their lives as husband and wife. He couldn't wait.
"Oh, I don't think it's weird at all. In fact, I think that shows that you know deep down you and Emily are meant for each other. That you have no doubts at all that she is the one that you're meant to spend the rest of your life with."
Hotch flashed Dave a grateful smile. "I've never been more sure of anything in my life."
The older profiler returned his smile. "That's good. Because if I'm not mistaken, you wife-to-be is about to walk down the aisle."
At the precise moment the opening strains of the Pachelbel Canon played and Hotch turned his head to observe the small procession proceeding towards them. His mouth turned up at the corners at the sight of Jack in a miniature tux at the front of the line, holding the ring pillow, his brow furrowed in concentration. Next was Garcia, dressed in a wide-necked, full length champagne-coloured silk gown, a big smile on her face as she proceeded down the aisle. Then came JJ, dressed in the same dress, but with a scooped neckline, in her hands a bunch of hot pink roses and white baby's breath exactly, identical to the one Garcia was holding.
And there she was.
Hotch felt his breath leave him when he first caught sight of the woman he had fallen with that fateful Valentine's night all those months ago.
Describing her as beautiful was more than just an understatement. It was as like trying to describe Leonardo da Vinci's talent or the heat of the sun in mere words. Words were completely inadequate. Emily was literally glowing with happiness, her dark eyes alight with joy, while the most incredible smile he had ever seen graced her face.
He barely managed to thank her father when he placed Emily's hand in his. Their fingers entwined and Hotch pressed his palm against hers.
"Hi," he murmured, his eyes caressing the face that he knew was already etched indelibly in his memory.
"Hi back." Emily's smile widened as her hand squeezed his.
Her voice was strong and sure. "Absolutely." He watched, bemused, as she turned to face the priest. "Father? Shall we start?"
Their priest shook his head. "I was just about to ask you the same question. Emily Prentiss. Incorrigible as always." His chuckle rang through the cathedral from the speakers overhead.
Hotch grinned, his eyes catching Dave's as the guests laughed. His friend winked.
Yes, Hotch was sure. More than sure. She was the one meant for him.
"Ladies and gentleman. May I have your attention please?"
Emily looked up at the sound of Dave's voice. He had stepped up on the podium and was now standing there patiently as he waited for the guests to quieten.
"I believe it is now the turn of the best man to make a speech. My name is David Rossi and Aaron is one of my closest friends, so I was extremely honoured when he asked me to be the best man at his wedding. Now, I suppose I could take one of two routes with this speech. I could either wax lyrical about all the many great qualities that make Aaron Hotchner the man he is, or I could tell you some embarrassing stories about his past."
Emily grinned when she saw her husband's eyes narrow almost imperceptibly. She looked back up to her team mate who was now sporting a rather cheeky smile. Oh dear. That did not bode well.
"I could do either of those things but all of you already know what a good man Aaron is and trust me, what I'm about to tell you is going to be embarrassing enough, even though I really don't mean it in that way at all. What I wanted to tell you tonight, ladies and gentleman, is the story of how Aaron and Emily came to realise their feelings for each other. Their...love story, if you will."
"Oh no," whispered Emily, her wide eyes clashing with Hotch's.
Dave smiled at the room. "Well folks, it all started that Valentine's Day when our Unit Chief, none other than Aaron Hotchner, called up Jenna's World of Gifts and ordered two dozen handmade dark chocolates for, you guessed it, our beautiful bride up there. Unfortunately, or should I perhaps say, fortunately, there was a mix-up with the order. Instead of receiving a gift that would have said "Happy Valentine's Day" from your friend and colleague, Emily received a gift basket which pretty much said, in not so many words, "Let's get it on tonight." That's right, ladies and gentlemen, contained within that gift basket was a very generous supply of prophylactics."
Emily closed her eyes to shut out the sight of her mother's shocked expression while Hotch cleared his throat. Everyone in the large ballroom were either gasping or laughing or doing both. Someone even had the gall to wolf whistle. She was so going to have to kill Morgan after she murdered Dave.
"You already know that Aaron is one of my dearest friends, and I count Emily too, as not just a friend, but a member of my family. So I am telling you this story not to embarrass them, because I love them very dearly, but because I wanted them to know how happy I am that a basket of Trojans made them realise what has been right under their nose."
Emily had opened her eyes and was now staring with Dave, her feeling of mortification fading at the sight of the warmth in his gaze as he looked at her and Hotch.
"Emily and Aaron, I truly cannot imagine two people in this world who are more perfect for each other than the both of you. You both deserve someone wonderful, someone completely extraordinary to be your partner in life. I have thought for a long time now that you belong to each other, in fact, most of us have." Dave smiled at the table before them where the team was seated. Emily's mouth parted in amazement when she saw the pleased smiles on Garcia and JJ's faces.
She felt Hotch take her hand in his.
"Which is why, Emily," Dave continued, "when I overheard Hotch putting in the order, JJ, Penelope and I got together and rigged Hotch's gift to you."
There was a moment's silence while Emily and Hotch stared in shock at Dave. Emily jumped when the room erupted in a sudden storm of loud applause and cries of approval.
"Thank you, everyone. Thank you. Now please, could you all be upstanding to toast our bride and bridegroom, requested Dave, beaming.
Emily's gaze met Hotch's. She looked into his eyes, which, like hers, were still vaguely stunned at Dave's revelation.
"To Emily and Aaron. May their lives together be always filled with an abundance of love and laughter and surprises," said Dave.
"To Emily and Aaron," echoed the guests.
As Emily's lips met those of her husband, she couldn't help but smile. Dave's toast had been unintentionally appropriate. There was just an itty bitty surprise she had in store for the man she loved. It was her wedding gift to him.
And she could barely wait to tell him.
I hope you enjoyed that : ) Do send me a review if you can.