Title: 'Light in the Darkness'
Word Count: 2,446
Warnings: Spoilers through Season 5, no spoilers for Season 6
Summary: Hotch thinks nobody knows him, but Prentiss does.
Author's Notes: I've been writing a lot of fluffy fics lately and I wanted to try something a little different. Hope you enjoy.
Sometimes, he just wanted to be left alone.
When the office was bustling and people were coming in and out of his office, thrusting files in his face and demanding things of him, sometimes – but not always – he just wanted them to go away. He wanted them all to go away.
The truth was, nobody had ever really known him. He sometimes thought that they didn’t want to get to close, perhaps believing the less they knew, the better. He knew they all thought he was a stoic, stodgy, repressed middle aged man who took his job way too seriously and never smiled.
And part of him wanted to keep it that way, because it meant he could keep everyone at an arms’ length, quite happy to believe their own misconceptions, and it wasn’t worth it to correct them.
Sometimes, she just wanted to be near him.
When he was sitting in his office, working busily, she could see him through the window, and she wondered what he was thinking about. Was it the case, or was there something else on his mind? Was he happy? Was he sad? Was he thinking about her?
She knew when he was irritated, by the tone of his voice and the shortness of his replies to people. She knew when he was happy, because his whole body relaxed and his eyes sparkled. She knew when he was sad, because the sadness hung around him like a veil. She knew his moods, good or bad. But she could never figure out what he was thinking.
At some point, after he and Haley had divorced, he realised he’d inevitably have to start dating again. It wasn’t something he wanted to do. He’d been with Haley since high school, all the way through college and beyond. He’d never even looked at another woman, never even considered the possibility that somebody else would be interested.
But gradually, he began to pick up on the signals – the prosecutor he worked with on the Roanoke murders, Kate Joyner in New York, who he tried desperately to save but was unable to. There were others – winks from the mothers at Jack’s preschool, hands lingering too long on his arm, too much perfume sprayed on, making his nose itch and his eyes water. He hated perfume.
He was never interested in any of them, not really. Hadn’t even been on a date since the divorce, and hadn’t even considered dating anyone after Haley’s death. He told himself it was because he was so wrapped up in caring for his son. The truth was, he didn’t really think anybody would want him. After all, nobody really knew him.
She knew he liked books on the World War 1, because she’d seen him reading historical literature on the plane when everyone was in their own little worlds. He hated wearing headphones, especially the little ear buds – she knew that when he went to the gym, he didn’t bother with music, simply stared straight ahead and concentrated on what he was doing.
His favourite band was The Beatles, his favourite song was ‘A Day in the Life’. His favourite TV show, she’d discovered, was The Pacific, and his favourite movie was Saving Private Ryan. She’d loaned him Atonement, the book and the movie, but he hadn’t liked it. She knew, because he lied and told her he had.
He loved his son, and would do anything for him. He hated being away from home, hated being called away on a case, especially if something significant was coming up at Jack’s school. He felt guilty because he couldn’t be there all the time, but he did the best he could.
She knew all this, because when everybody else was distracted, she was watching him.
He noticed her, of course. The way she walked, talked, smiled and laughed. Theirs was almost an odd relationship – they hadn’t started off on the right foot, and it had taken him a long time to trust her, but as time went on he couldn’t imagine life without her.
She became someone he listened to thoughtfully. He valued her opinion, whether it was related to a case or otherwise. Sometimes, he thought maybe she understood him better than the rest of them – when somebody else might find his interest in World War 1 dull, she found it fascinating, and recommended books and movies to him. Not even Rossi would sit and have a conversation about it, but she would.
Of course, their relationship was strictly professional at all times. He considered her a friend – a very good friend, but nothing more. He tried not to even think of her as anything other than that. He was always professional, and he would never cross any boundaries with anyone on his team. He cared about her and respected her too much to ever think of her as anything more than a friend.
She knew he’d never make the first move. It would all be on her, and she’d have to time it perfectly. He was annoyingly professional, sometimes maddeningly aloof, but she thought there was something there. He never pushed her away – when other women would touch him, he would find a way to gracefully extricate himself from their grasp. When she touched him, he stayed put. He listened to her opinions, when others would occasionally brush her off. He was amused by her anecdotes, and most tellingly, she occasionally caught him glancing at her when he thought nobody was looking.
A part of her was scared about crossing a line – having feelings for your boss was dangerous, and she knew it could cause serious complications if he didn’t reciprocate. But all the same, she decided to make a move. She had never been a woman to shy away from what she wanted, and what she wanted was him.
He’d been surprised when she’d asked him for a ride home, but when she explained that her car wasn’t starting and the others had left he was instantly sympathetic. Besides, he’d never say no to a team member in need, and he was looking forward to spending some time with her away from the others. They very rarely found an opportunity to have a conversation without someone, usually Morgan, butting in.
One of the first thing he noticed was that she wasn’t wearing perfume, or if she was wearing perfume, it was muted and he could hardly smell it. He liked the way she smelled, sort of musky and rich, with a hint of sweetness that was probably her shampoo. Her long dark hair framed her face, and as they drove along she pulled it back with her hands, glancing over at him quickly. She had a way of looking at people with her big, brown eyes that made them want to open up.
They talked about work, politics and finally his son, and she seemed pleased to hear Jack was doing well. When they arrived at her apartment building, she bundled up her things, glanced at him nervously, and then leaned across to press her lips against his.
His heart stopped, his eyes fluttered shut, but he kissed her back. And when she pulled away, a wall of shame and embarrassment came crushing down him, and he looked away from her, trying to contain himself. She touched his arm and he shook his head, biting his lip to rid himself of the feeling of her mouth – he could still feel her lips pressed to his.
She squeezed his arm insistently, tugging on his sleeve, saying something, and he turned back to her, blinking rapidly, face flaming red, and stuttered an apology. She was shaking her head and leaning in to kiss him again, cupping his face with her hands, her breath hot on his lips.
“Aaron,” she whispered, her nose bumping against his as she adjusted her position, leaning fully over him.
He gazed at her, her face illuminated by the street lights. His hands were still gripping the steering wheel, knuckles white, but he tilted his chin up, lips brushing against hers again. His first kiss since Haley. The first real kiss in almost two years.
She wasn’t going to treat him like any of her other boyfriends. He was special, different. He was a gentleman - the kind of man who would never make the first move unless he was reasonably assured it would be reciprocated. It had been a long time since she’d really had feelings for someone, and she wanted him to know what he meant to her.
She knew he was nervous, and he was still gripping the steering wheel tightly, his whole body tense. He was gazing at her solemnly, searching her eyes for reassurance, and when she whispered his name – her permission – he leaned in and kissed her again.
Her heart was pounding in her chest, and she closed her eyes, returning the kiss sweetly, trying to savour every second, just in case it was the last. She felt him move, at last, and realised he was putting the car into park and taking his foot off the brake. She steadied herself on the seat, shifting, trying to inch closer to him, opening her mouth and tasting him for the first time. Minty, fresh, clean – he’d brushed his teeth recently.
One of his hands slipped free of the steering wheel and rested on her shoulder lightly, tentatively, and she moved one hand from his waist and grabbed his belt, trying to pull him closer.
“Emily,” he breathed, lifting a hand to brush her hair from her eyes. She licked her lips, a slight smile crossing her lips, and kissed his cheek.
When he finally got home after collecting Jack, he stood in the shower for a long time and tried to cool down. He’d never felt such intense feelings for someone so quickly – it was as if kissing her had opened something deep inside him, the part of him that wanted someone to love him. The part of him who wanted to share his life with someone he could trust.
He wondered if he could trust her.
He’d wanted to have a first date, he’d told her breathlessly in between kisses one morning outside her apartment. He didn’t just want to start their relationship – her heart had done a girlish skip at the word ‘relationship’ – with frantic kisses in the front seat of his car. He wanted to do it properly, like a gentleman.
She couldn’t say no to that.
Their first date was in a tiny Italian restaurant, candlelit and crowded. They squeezed into a booth at the back and shared a plate of the best napolitana pasta she’d ever eaten in her entire life. They drank a bottle of red wine, and had chocolate cake for dessert, holding hands under the table. Romantic, clichéd, whatever – she was hooked.
After dinner, they took a walk, the lights of the city sparkling around them. She rested her head against his shoulder, elated at the way things had worked out. She was dating the man she’d had a crush on for almost three years, and she was enjoying every moment.
He walked her to her apartment, and stood on the steps, trying to resist her advances. She tried everything she could think of to get him to come inside, but he was firm – even if his resolve was slowly being worn down. She decided to let him off easy, and stood on the step and watched him get into his car and drive away.
He felt stupid as he drove away – it had been far too long since he’d dated, and he didn’t know if he was supposed to go in or if he was supposed to resist. He did what came the most naturally, and internally, he was relieved. He didn’t want to be a disappointment to her.
By the time he arrived home, it was almost eleven. Jack was staying with Haley’s sister, having a slumber party with her kids. The house was silent and dark when he arrived, and he turned off the burglar alarm and stood in the entranceway for awhile, thinking things over. Wondering if he’d made a huge mistake.
He’d poured himself a glass of whiskey and was watching the late news when there was a soft tap at his door. The knock unnerved him, and he dropped the glass onto the floor in his haste to pull himself off the couch and rush to the door. He peered through the peephole, spotting a flash of dark hair as she pushed it off her face, looking nervous.
He unlocked the door quickly, holding it open, a rush of worry flooding over him. He was asking her if everything was okay when she stepped inside, slipped her arms around his neck and kissed him hungrily. Surprised, he pushed the door shut and rested his hands on her hips, returning the kiss, and as she pulled away he gazed at her in confusion.
She looked up at him, dark eyes full of desire, and whispered, “I can’t wait anymore.”
He swallowed hard, trembling slightly. “I...”
“Do you want me?” she asked, one eyebrow arching, hands pulling at her coat and dropping it on the floor.
He nodded, moving jerkily, and sucked in a breath as she began to unbutton her blouse. “Emily, I...”
She was trying to look confident, but her fingers fumbled with the buttons as she undid them, before she finally pulled the blouse free and dropped it on top of her coat. Clad only in a black, lacy bra and skirt, she reached out and grabbed his tie, loosening the knot and sliding it from around his neck. He grabbed her hands as she reached for the buttons on his shirt, kissing her fingers and pulling her in close, breathing in the scent of her hair.
She touched his cheek, letting out a shuddering breath. “I want you.”
“I want you too,” he whispered back, lifting her into his arms and carrying her into the bedroom.
She’d been with a few men, that was the truth. She wasn’t ashamed of it. She was in her late thirties and she had a healthy appetite for sex. What she’d always wanted was love, and she’d finally found it, with a man who at first glance seemed to be uptight, rigid and unfeeling. His problem was that he felt too much, and he had to push it down where nobody could see it.
But she could see it.
When nobody else was looking, she was.
The fanfiction archive of woodchoc_magnum
- "Light in the Darkness", Hotch/Prentiss, PG