Word Count: 1,230
Warnings: Spoilers for Season 7
Summary: A continuation of the Hotch/Prentiss scene at the end of the fourth episode of Season 7 (aka the writers' gift to us all FINALLY).
Author's Notes: I think this could turn into a series of fics, so this would be Part 1. This is pre-romance stuff.
She wanted to touch him. Comfort him actually, though she wasn’t really sure he needed comforting. Reassurance maybe – so he was aware there were people who cared about him and wanted to know about his life. He was so solitary.
He wanted to touch her. He didn’t have an especially good reason. Her hands were resting on the table and he could see them there, and he wanted to put his hands over hers. To thank her, maybe. He knew she had always cared, but he never really knew how much.
She lingered longer than she thought she would. Morgan and Reid were still engaged in their childish prank war. Rossi was indulging them, and JJ was talking on the phone to Garcia. So she stayed with Hotch, though she probably would’ve stayed regardless of what the others were doing.
She told him about her time in Paris, leaving out the parts about her miserable and crippling loneliness, her boredom, her feelings of isolation and deep, dark depression that she’d spent a good two months wallowing in.
She didn’t tell him how sometimes she took a walk along the River Seine and wished he was there beside her.
She lingered longer than he thought she would. He could hear Morgan threatening Reid and Dave laughing, so he imagined she’d want to get back to see what all the fuss was about. But she seemed mildly annoyed by the commotion, and stayed seated across from him, her hands still resting on the table in front of her.
They talked about her time in Paris. She made it sound a lot happier than he knew it was. He’d spoken to her on the phone once, briefly, and her loneliness was so palpable it seemed to reach through the phone line.
He’d never been to Paris. He’d always meant to go, but life had gotten in the way. He didn’t tell her that, or how he’d alleviated his boredom on flights by looking up Paris hotels on the internet. He’d almost booked one, once, with the crazy, irrational thought that he was going to fly out and see her.
He would’ve liked to have taken a stroll along the river with her, just once, maybe.
An hour passed by. Hotch had made them both cups of tea, and they sat there talking quietly. Their light was the only illumination in the cabin. The rest of the team were all sleeping soundly.
She was tired, but underneath it still a little anxious. She’d been beside Hotch in some pretty tense situations, but today was the first day she’d been really worried that something might happen to him. She supposed it was because she was still getting used to being back on the team, and she was grateful to be back, and she didn’t want anything to go wrong.
But she was lying to herself, because it really boiled down to one simple truth:
She cared about him. Deeply.
More so than she’d ever admitted to herself. Before, it had been daydreams and naughty fantasies, because he was her boss, and he was married, and he was a stand-up guy. But things had changed. He wasn’t the same man whose couch she’d camped out on, waiting for him to return from a case. He wasn’t the same man who had survived a car bombing with a temporary hearing problem and some scrapes and bruises.
Or maybe he was the same man, and she just felt differently about him. Maybe being away for so long had opened her eyes up, made her see the bigger picture. She’d had relationships – some bad, a couple good, but nothing serious. She wasn’t in her twenties anymore. She’d had her world ripped apart by a ghost from her past, and now she had it back. She didn’t want to waste her life wondering, and fantasising. She wanted to experience something real.
She’d been silent for a couple of minutes, a faraway look in her eyes. She was looking in his direction, but not at him, and she was obviously lost in thought. He let her have her moment.
Her eyes came back into focus, and her attention was trained on him. He met her gaze, and felt a flutter in his chest. Something had changed in the last few minutes. She was looking at him differently - assessing him, maybe? He wasn’t sure. He didn’t look away, but raised a questioning eyebrow.
“You could’ve been killed today,” she replied, her voice low.
He nodded. “Yes, quite possibly.”
“That doesn’t bother you?”
He sat back in his chair thoughtfully. “We all make our peace with that. It’s part of the job.”
“But does it bother you?” she asked, her tone suddenly deathly serious.
He lifted his shoulders in a slight shrug. “What do you want me to say?”
“I want you to say that you don’t want to die,” she said. There was an edge to her voice.
He silently gazed at her for a moment, and then said, “I don’t want to die, but I accept it as a possibility. Don’t you?”
She clasped her hands on the table in front of her, turning towards the window. A dark lock of hair fell across her cheek. “I already died.”
Without even realising it, or hesitating, he reached out and placed his hands on top of hers. “We didn’t let that happen.”
She turned back to face him quickly, taking in his hands on top of hers before meeting his eyes. “We didn’t let that happen? Or was it you who didn’t let that happen?”
He swallowed. “It was me.”
Her eyes softened, and she looked down at their hands again. “If anyone could do it, it would be you. It’s no surprise your son thinks you’re a superhero.”
He smiled, a little modestly. “Jack is too young to understand what I do.”
“He’s not far wrong, you know. You may not wear a cape, but what you do is pretty heroic.”
He shrugged slightly. “We do the same job, Emily. Do you think what you do is heroic?”
“No,” she said after a moment. “I’m just doing my job.”
“So am I,” he said, and squeezed her hands once before pulling away.
She wanted to tell him how when she heard that gunshot in the boiler room, for one horrible second she thought he’d been shot. She wanted to tell him how reassuring it was to know that he was only a phone call away, and if she ever really needed him, she could call him and he would answer.
But she didn’t. He squeezed her hands and then moved away, respecting her personal space, not overstepping any bounds.
She smiled at him, because it was so very Hotch-like – to move one step closer, and then two steps back. He was careful, and cautious, and hell, he probably didn’t even realise that she was having inappropriate-for-the-workplace feelings towards him.
But she wanted him to notice. She really wanted him to notice her.
He smiled back at her, relieved that his dark portion of the conversation was over, even though he didn’t quite know what had brought it on. He never could figure out what she was thinking sometimes. He could profile just about anyone, but Emily Prentiss was still a mystery.
The fanfiction archive of woodchoc_magnum
- "Touch", Hotch/Prentiss, PG