A few days after the whole nightmare of JJ's abduction, they're standing in the corridor of the BAU - the BAU; he has to keep reminding himself of that. Things seem to be settling down now. He knows JJ is going to be dealing with a lot of PTSD-related reaction but he thinks it's helped that Emily chose to hang around a few more days. He agrees with Garcia: the six hours Emily had originally announced hadn't been long enough. He has a suspicion that Garcia's reaction and JJ's look of vulnerability as she had curled herself into Will, had pushed Emily into requesting extra days. He wonders what she said or did to make it happen, and if she can make it happen again. Even the few extra days they've had her haven't been long enough.
"How much longer do we have you?" he asks and hopes his voice sounds stronger than he feels.
"I've got to head out in the next couple of hours. I've already said goodbye to the others."
He doesn't miss the sadness in her voice or her eyes when she replies. His chest tightens. All he can do is nod. But she's looking at him like she wants him to respond, but he doesn't know how. He can't even move. If he moves, he's afraid of what he might do.
She sighs and then she's taking a step towards him, leaning in. Her right hand comes to rest on his chest, above his heart and then she's pressing her lips to the right of his mouth and his breathing stops. Which is just ridiculous because he can smell her hair, he can smell her: Emily.
"Take care of each other Hotch," she says against his skin. Then she's pulling away from him. He lets out a breath and, as she's removing her hand he takes hold of it and just looks at her. He wants to say something, anything. But he thinks if he did and he said what he wanted to say and she rejected him, it would just break him. That scares the hell out of him.
She tilts her head, gives him a small smile. It's completely for his benefit, like this isn't hurting her as much as it is him and the rest of them. She squeezes his hand, turns and starts heading down the corridor.
Then she's gone from view and Rossi has appeared on his left, hands in pockets. From the look on his face, he thinks maybe he has some thing to say.
"You should have told her to stay".
He's right, not that Hotch is ready to admit it aloud. "She knows we want her to stay."
Rossi nods and then looks at him and before he even says it, Hotch knows what's coming.
"But does she know you want her to stay, Aaron?"
Hotch looks to where she had disappeared, then down at the floor before looking at Rossi and heading towards his office. He has work to do.
Rossi fists his hands in his trouser pockets as he watches Hotch walk away. If he didn't, he thinks he'd grab the stubborn SOB and knock some sense into him! Damnit Aaron.
He knows Garcia's at his side before she even says anything, her heels having given her away.
"Did he tell her?" Garcia asks.
Rossi doesn't want to have to tell her, and from the look on Garcia's face as he turns to answer her, he doesn't think he has to. So he just shakes his head and starts back to his office, all the while thinking that Aaron Hotchner was a damn fool.
He returned to his office and, as he headed towards his desk, started to loosen his tie. The tie. The tie she had given him as a birthday gift. The last birthday they had spent together, as a team. She was still here, still within reach, and as he pulls the knot loose he realizes, it's because he can't breathe! He's just let her walk away. Again. He leans against his desk, fists turning white as he leans his body against it, like he wants to force his weight into breaking it in half. Head hanging low, all he can think is that he should have said something, should have told her. But he hadn't, he couldn't. She's happy, finally. She has a job she loves, a job she earned. How can he ask her to give that up just so he can wrap his arms around her and bury his nose in her hair?
He won't. He can't. So he'd let her walk away because as much as he wants her, as much as he needs her, he just can't take that happiness away from her; that peace she seems to have found.
He just wishes he could have been the one to give it to her.
. . . .
Rossi sat staring at the team picture he had on his desk. It's an old one, from one of their 'we're not dead' barbeques. There are a lot of pictures like that, he knows, but he can admit to looking at this one with new eyes. They're all there, but it's Hotch and Emily that catch his gaze this time. It's nothing obvious, it's just a look, but it's speaking volumes.
"Son of a bitch."
He should have seen it ages ago, should have smacked Hotch up side of the head long before Emily had up and moved to London. It's so painfully obvious now that he's looking and he digs his fingers into the frame to keep him from walking into Hotch's office and throttling the SSIAC with his own damn tie.
Emily hadn't been happy here, he knows. He knows that she's running Interpol like a queen. She'd been built for leadership. It's been good for all of them. Emily's blossomed, proved to herself that she can live without them and more importantly, it's proven that they can work without her. But they don't want that, he knows. They want Emily back, maybe not on the team, but in the US. And from the last few days he knows that Emily's missed them too. They are her family and it's not the same without her. He'd seen the way she'd kept close to Garcia and Reid in the bar, the way she'd listened with unwavering attention to everyone else without talking about herself, she'd been thirsty for knowledge on them all. She'd made sure JJ had a little cry on her shoulder, a purging of emotion he's not entirely sure would have happened otherwise. She'd just wanted to make sure they were all okay.
But Rossi's also realizing she'd never come to him, never stopped at Hotch. And he's starting to think that had been deliberate.
. . . .
Garcia appears in his office and Hotch isn't sure he can handle the bubbly blonde. She must sense it because she walks towards him slowly, like a kitten testing the waters before it attacks the scary looking fluffy thing. Because for all his hard arse-ness and stoic face-ness, Garcia knows, he's just a big softy.
He looks up and she's in front of his desk. There's something different about the way she's standing there. Nervousness? No! Excitement. She's almost giddy. He has to wonder why that is, especially considering what they've all just been through. But here she is, standing in front of him with a controlled look of excitement on her face
"What is it Garcia?"
"Oh! erm, well. It's about Emily, Sir."
The moment he hears her name he's all ears. In fact his heart skips a beat and his brain freezes.
"Her flight has been cancelled. Well, more like Interpol decided they needed the jet for some other super secret 007 mission. Anyway! She can't get on a commercial flight out tonight, so we're dragging her out to the bar."
His breath catches in his chest. It's another chance, he thinks.
"You're going to come, right? I mean, it's Emily! How long is it going to be until we're all together again? I know you're busy Sir, but I just think that you should maybe stop by, just for a bit. "
"I mean it's Emily and she's only here for ."
She stops so suddenly he thinks he hears her teeth snap together, a look of fear on her face.
"Oh, erm, 8, sir. We're meeting at 8. Is that OK?"
"It's fine, Garcia. I'll be there. Anything else?"
"Erm, no. No sir. That' s great! So I'll see your later. You and Emily. Great, fantastic! Okay, bye."
As Garcia skipped out of his office, Hotch had to wonder, if it really is fate; if this is the universe's way of giving him another chance. Is he getting another shot at telling her?
He's not sure it matters what the universe's thoughts are, but he does know his own. He has 2 hours to get himself ready to see her. He has 2 hours to get his head in the game, to figure out how he's going to do this. 2 hours to gather his courage and remind his heart she could say no. 2 hours to remind himself he'd thought he'd already said goodbye in the hallway not 20 minutes ago. Since she'd pressed that delicate little kiss to his cheek and the smell of her skin had slipped through his blood like molasses. He'd said goodbye. But now, now he's getting another chance and he has to prepare himself. Otherwise he might just grab her and demand she stay.
He does know one thing: no matter the outcome, he has to be there. It's Emily. And if there's even the chance she could accept him, he thinks he has to try.
He hates saying goodbye.
Garcia practically waltzes into her cave. JJ watches with a raised eyebrow.
"What did you do?"
"Why my dear darling JJ what ever do you mean?"
"You're practically floating on air. What. Did. You. Do?"
"Em's flight got moved. She's staying until tomorrow."
"Yeah, I knew that already," JJ says on a laugh. "I was here when she called."
"So, I told Hotch."
JJ blinks. That's an interesting development. JJ can't say she'd considered it all that much in the excitement of having her best friend stateside just a little bit longer.
"Exactly," Garcia sighs, dropping into her chair. Her bracelets jingle as she wrings her hands. "Think he'll do it?"
"I hope so. God, I hope so," JJ says. "He deserves it, she deserves it. We deserve it. I mean, how long has it been, right? Is he definitely coming?"
"He said he'd be there, so he will, right? I mean it's Emily. How can he not?"
. . . .
What the fuck? It has to be some kind of cosmic joke, she thinks. It’s hard enough to say goodbye once, let alone two, or even three times. And now she has to do it again.
It’s not that she doesn’t want to see them. It’s familiar and safe. Except he’s going to be there. She’d already broken her own rule once. She’d given in. She’d leaned in. She’d broken every single one of her self-imposed rules. She’d felt him, and that was the one rule she has vowed to death she would never break.
She’d justified it by telling herself that it was goodbye, that she could run back to London and she wouldn’t have to deal with it. But now, now he’ll be there and she knows he will. Garcia would make him.
There’s a part of her that doesn’t want to go, that wants to just wish herself away. She snorted at the thought, yeah that’ll work, she thinks, and it sounds exactly like her closest friend in England that knows all about her life, about her team, about her family about her… About Hotch. Emily knows her friend would be right there with JJ and Garcia, cheering with little victory flags.
She sucks in a breath. She’s going to go to this last minute gathering. She’s going and she’s going to look amazing. She will not break apart. She reaches into her bag, pulls out a sexy little lingerie set that she refuses to admit she’d bought with Hotch in mind. Her black pencil skirt would go with it well, she thinks – and she won’t acknowledge that realistically, there had been no reason to bring that skirt. Red silk blouse and completely impractical heels that she’d tossed into her go-bag at the last minute. But she’d known, she thinks. She knows. Hotch had looked at those shoes before.
She sucks in a breath. It’s a friendly, ‘family’ gathering, she knows, but she can’t lie and say she doesn’t want him to notice. It’s desperate, maybe, but if this is the universe giving her another chance… Well, Emily’s learned to leap at those. And if she’s picturing him sliding the blouse from her shoulders, the skirt from her hips while he bites at her collarbone...
She needs to change her underwear.
. . . .
Hotch likes to think he isn’t normally an impatient man. In fact, he’s turned patience into an art form. Always controlled, always stoic. But as he stands by the bar with Rossi, Morgan and Reid, he finds that he cannot focus on their conversation. He hears snippets, their latest case, Rossi’s book, Morgan’s latest conquest, Morgan trying to push Reid into flirting with a young woman hustling a few guys at the pool tables…
He doesn’t want to be here, he realizes. The nerves are crawling up his throat. She’s on her way, he knows. She’s the only one missing. JJ, Garcia and Blake are a few feet away, ordering drinks with little umbrellas that Garcia’s replacing with little English flags. He feels a smile twitch at the corner of his mouth even as his stomach rolls. She’ll be here soon, he thinks. Any minute and he’s finding it harder and harder to keep his SSIAC Hotchner face.
And then she walks in.
He feels it, the moment she steps through the door. The air changes and he thinks he can feel the way all eyes in the room slide to her. Watching the condensation drip down his glass is no longer so appealing and when he looks up, he almost swallows his tongue.
Emily has always had a way of commanding a room. Normally, it’s a joy to watch and sexy as hell. Now, he hates it. Eyes are watching her like she’s fresh meat and while he can’t blame them – she’s so, so sexy in those heels, that skirt – he can’t help the way he growls. And then she smiles, that full-faced thing she does and he has to remind himself to breathe. He watches her legs as she walks towards them, can’t help it; can’t help imagining those blood-red soles digging into his lower back.
Then she’s there, right in front of him, wrapping her arms around him and he can smell her. Vanilla and Emily and he can’t stop himself from wrapping his arm around her waist, curling his fingers over her hip. He pulls her towards him, the beer in his hand keeping him from just wrapping himself around her. He hears her give a breathy chuckle in his ear and says something about private jets, pulling away. He misses her the second she leaves, craves those six seconds back.
He drops his head subtlety. It’s the first time he’s been willing to acknowledge that Emily Prentiss means more to him than he’d thought.
There’s nothing unique about their night. Beyond the little English flags that remind her she doesn’t live here, and Garcia’s not-so-subtle attempts to get her to spend most of her evening with Hotch, the evening is exactly like it had always been.
Morgan dances with every woman, including JJ, Garcia and Blake. He even drags her out onto the floor. Reid takes comfort in his statistics, manages to find another group of nerds from one of the nearby universities. JJ talks of Henry, of how big he is getting, of Will and their relationship – marriage, God – and how she keeps dreaming of the day Henry’ll go off to college. They all take turns teasing her on that one.
Blake spends most of her night next to Emily, laughing and listening to the stories, epic and embarrassing. Emily forgets that they haven’t known each other forever. Still, Emily has to admit it’s a little strange to listen to stories about a time that she hadn’t been employed by the FBI. Apparently she’s still adjusting. Dave, who had greeted her with open arms and compliments, bought more rounds than she could count. He keeps looking at her like he knows something she dosen’t. She refuses to acknowledge the look.
And Hotch. Well, Hotch is different. It isn’t noticeable, she doesn’t think. It’s little things, like the way he touches her, how often he touches her, a hand on her arm, her shoulder, the bottom of her back. It’s not something she’s actively taken notice of, but the way that Garcia, Morgan and Dave watch them, she thinks maybe she should be. That maybe there is something abnormal about it, despite how good it feels. Then she starts paying attention.
Then she realizes it’s not normal.
It’s not that he has never touched her. She can think of a number of different occasions where he’d brushed a hand down her arm or her back. It’s the frequency that catches her attention, once she clues into it. He leans into her too, like he can’t hear her though she knows that isn’t close to the truth. The bar’s not that loud, for one thing, and the way he boxes her in against the bar, his heat against her back definitely catches her attention. So does the way his arm snakes around her waist when the bartender hands her his number.
So when, embarrassed, admits he needs to return to the BAU for some files, she thinks it must be that hyperawareness of his touch that has her volunteering to go with him.
They walk those same halls again. Abe checks her ID, gives them both this disapproving look for being in the office so late. She remembers the days he’d complain about the hours, the commute, his wife and finds she misses them. Yet there’s a strange leaden feeling that settles in her stomach as their steps echo across the lobby. It’s home, yet she feels like she doesn’t belong. She knows why she’d escaped to England, knows it’s all about the heartache and the lack of control, a constant state of fear and –
She had not escaped. She’d taken an awesome job opportunity. Hadn’t she? She’d left for good reasons she just can’t quite put into words, a suffocating feeling she hadn’t been able to get rid of. They’d all looked at her differently, Morgan, Garcia and God, Reid. They looked at her like she wasn’t the same, like they didn’t know her. Like she wasn’t a sister or a confidante or a friend. Like she wasn’t someone they could count on anymore. They looked at her as if she was a foreign agent, a spy.
Until the end. Until she’d decided that enough was enough and she had to go, regardless of the fact that it apparently hadn’t been an entirely conscious decision. She knows that the Doyle thing messed with them, that it was an atomic bomb she just dropped on their heads, but it doesn’t change how much it hurt. It wasn’t like she’d expected Doyle to escape. It wasn’t like she’d ever anticipated him trying to hunt her down, to put them in danger. She finds herself wondering in an abstract way if they’ll treat JJ the same now when the secrets they’d kept had almost ended in both of them dead.
She thinks she might be a little bitter.
And maybe it’s that exact thought that pushes her to lean into Hotch’s back as he unlocks his door, to whisper in her lowest, hottest voice that maybe, just maybe, he should leave his files in his desk drawer and just do her instead. It must be enough, because he spins her through the door and slams her up against it. She’s pretty sure he wants her just as much as she wants him. And then he lifts her leg and presses against her just right and she knows.
There’s no looking back now.
He doesn’t care how or why they ended up here. He doesn’t care that he shouldn’t be here, that he shouldn’t be eying her as though she's naked – he is though, oh God, he is – all he cares about is finding the next moment he can press her against him in the most sinful of ways. Her smell, her taste, the feel of her skin along her spine, it's softer than silk beneath his fingers. Christ. She's everywhere!.
She makes a sound he knows is going to haunt his dreams when he slides his right hand down and around to cup her left hip and pulls her pelvis snug against his own. His other hand is busy holding hers above her head. He moves his lips from her neck to kiss her again and wonders why he ever moved away from the taste of her in the first place. Breathing really isn't all that important.
She moves then, lifts her left leg up and he feels the heel of her shoe pressed against his right thigh as he all but molds himself against her with a growl. The hand he has on her hip slides down to her knee and pulls it higher and if he thought he was losing his mind before he'd been terribly, terribly wrong. They're still fully clothed - well, Emily's blouse is open and he has a beautiful view of the dark lace covering the breasts he just knows will fit his hands perfectly. But he can feel the heat coming off of her, soaking his trousers where his erection is pressed against her. He needs to be inside her.
He knows this isn't going to be slow and romantic and all the things she deserves. This is going to be fast and hard and to be honest, he can't say that doesn't turn him on a little bit more. He's always wanted her, whether he consciously admitted it or not. He's always wanted to fuck Emily Prentiss – in so many different ways and places - and it's a little bit scary that he's about to do that. From the way she's pushing against him, biting at his bottom lip and making those sounds he doesn’t think she's anywhere near changing her mind.
He makes his way down her throat, kissing, nipping at her skin and then he hits the spot between her neck and collarbone and she whimpers. The sound thrills him and he bites down. She moans at the feel of his hips pushing against her and he's gone. He slides the hand holding her knee up her thigh and finds the lace he knew was going to be there. With a yank, he rips the scrap of lace. Emily gasps. He barely hears it around the blood pounding in his ears as he slides his fingers through the slick heat of her. She cries out as he slips his fingers inside, hard and fast. She’s so hot and so wet and all he can think is, more.
Her hips buck along with the rhythm of his hand and he releases his hold on her wrists to pull her closer. He adds another finger and she cries out again and he buries his head in her, unfortunately, neglected chest. He flicks his tongue out to catch a bead of perspiration that slides between her breasts. The taste of her skin explodes across his tongue and it’s not enough. He sucks a lace-covered nipple into his mouth, his left hand coming up to knead at the other one.
Emily seems to have decided she's been idle long enough and brings both her hands to his chest. She doesn’t even bother with the buttons, just grabs the shirt from the opening at his throat and pulls. Buttons go everywhere and she gives half a thought to what the cleaning service would think, finding buttons scattered across his office. But then her hands are smoothing across his chest and down his ribs. He feels his muscles jump under her elegant fingers that are now at the waist band of his trousers just lightly skimming along his skin. The there but not there touch has him shaking.
As she unfastens his belt and pops the button he brings his head up from her breast and slams his lips against her own. He growls as he feels her hand slip beneath his trousers, then his boxers. As she wraps her hand around him he pushes his fingers deeper within her and flicks her clit with his thumb. She cries out and he uses that to bite down on her throat. He sucks and she squeezes and the next thing he knows he has both his hands under her arse. She jumps and wraps her long, long legs around his waist. She grabs him, slides her thumb over the tip and positions him at her entrance.
He nudges his nose against hers. He wants to see her eyes, needs to see her eyes as he enters her. When it happens, when his eyes lock with hers, he thinks maybe that was a mistake. Her eyes are beautiful, always have been, but right now, in this moment as he slides into her, they're endless. It's like she's looking right into him, through him and he wants to run but she feels too good. His heart both breaks and explodes as he realizes, it doesn’t matter that this isn't what she deserves, that this isn't the way this should have happened. The startlingly clear fact is that it was always going to happen, and it was always going to be something.
And when he meets her eyes, he thinks she knows it too.
But then she grinds down and bites her lip and all the poetry, all the crazy thoughts of dates and dinners, picnics in the park, cuddles on the couch and bed time stories with Jack while she looks through bridal magazines are gone from his head and all he can think about is how good she feels. He cannot describe how amazing she feels with one of her hands in his hair, gripping and pulling. Her other hand is on his arse, trying to get him closer, and she's panting and whimpering into his neck. He can feel the tenuous grip on his control fraying as his hand slides over her hips, her arse and he uses the leverage to push deeper, to drive harder.
"Hotch,” she moans. “Harder!"
That’s all it takes. He thinks maybe he hears his control snap, and after that he just doesn’t think. He feels, and all he feels is one Emily Prentiss. He lets instinct take over, slamming into her. He knows he's leaving bruises with the way he grips her hips and arse, and he knows there's going to be marks on her neck, collar bone and breasts. He doesn’t care, really, his need to possess her, to keep her close only intensifies as he looks down and sees her scar; the scar that sent her running to London, leaving him behind. He thinks he might hate that scar more than anything.
She's not exactly gentle herself. She grabs, pulls and scratches across his neck, down his back. She bites his ear and whispers, "Fuck me."
He lifts her for leverage, slams into her harder, leans down and sucks a nipple through the bra he hasn't removed. Her head once again slams back against his door.
He needs to feel her let go while he's inside her and he needs her to do it now. He moves his hand from her arse and slips it between them, but before he touches her where he knows she wants, he calls her name.
"Emily. Baby, look at me!"
She does, and he moves his hand and presses down on that little bundle of nerves and she breaks.
His name, his given name said like that, screamed like that, throws him over. He feels the heat of it crawl up his spine until it’s an all-encompassing thing.
He doesn’t know how long he stays buried inside her. He doesn’t move until she shifts with a contented sigh that makes his chest clench hard. They both groan as he slides out of her and lowers her legs to the floor. She’s still wearing her heels, and the sight sends heat racing to places that shouldn’t be anywhere near close to recovery. He’s a grown man on the other side of fifty for goodness sake.
She keeps her head down as she catches her balance again. He doesn’t like it. At all. "Emily... "
His whisper goes straight to her heart and she has to work hard not to react. She knows what's coming. How could she not? It's the same way she’d known they were going to end up in bed. Okay, so the bed ended up being against his office door, but still, it applies.
She should have stopped it, walked away, or not followed as the case may be. But she didn't and here they are, after just having what can only be described as mind-numbing, body-exploding sex - dirty sex, hard sex, fan-fucking-tastic amazing sex - against her ex-boss’ office door, and he's about to tell her it was a mistake. There’s no other possible outcome, but honestly, she’s not sure she wants to hear it. She tries to pull herself together, puts on her "ambassador's daughter" face and looks up. She almost breaks.
His eyes. God, his eyes. They're looking right at her, searching, and it scares her. She doesn’t know what he’s looking for, cannot fathom why he’s being so intense in his inspection of her face. She has no idea what he wants from her. So she latches on to her only escape: her flight.
"I have to go."
He stares for a moment, opens and closes his mouth as if he wants to say something. And she knows, because of who he is, that he's going to be a gentleman about what's just happened. It makes her smile and makes her heart clench at the same time. She wants to make this easy for him because honestly, this is all on her.
"Look, Hotch, don't worry about it. This." She waves a hand between them. “This was just… a long time coming."
She pulls away from him and he can't figure out her mood, her facial expression. It’s surreal because just moments ago, when he was so far inside her, he could read her like he was a blind man reading braille. He doesn’t know what to do. He wants to grab her, pull her against him and tell her all the things he's kept from her, but she starts buttoning her blouse and he feels everything tense. She runs her hand through hair and looks up. His heart stops, and he gets a ball of ice in his stomach as he realizes, with painful clarity that she's walking away, again.
She wants to cry.
What the hell was she thinking?
Actually, she knows damn well what she'd been thinking. From the moment she’d started to get ready, to the moment she suggested a trip to the BAU, she’d known what she was doing.
She just hadn’t realised how much it would hurt. And God it hurts. It feels like she has a hole in her chest, and every now and then she has to remember to breathe. Gods! What had she done?
She doesn’t know why she's staring in the hotel mirror like she has nowhere to be. She’s leaving soon, but here she is, she's looking at herself and trying to see the differences they all see. Garcia had told her she’d looked happy and free. JJ had commented on a ‘weight’ that had lifted from her shoulders. Emily can’t say she was consciously aware of being held down. Both Morgan and Reid had told her they were glad to see her smiling and laughing again, not that Emily could remember stopping. When Rossi had welcomed her back - and Emily refuses to fully acknowledge his literal use of the phrase ‘welcome back’ in the moments before she has to leave - she’d had to bite her tongue. And Blake? Blake had squeezed her hand and murmured something about never being able to really leave. Emily hadn’t acknowledged that one either.
And Hotch, well. Hotch just took over her senses. She’d been acutely aware of him from the moment she’d walked through the door of that bar. She’d leaned in to say hi, just to say hi, and now she has a bite mark on her shoulder and finger bruises on her thighs. She thinks maybe she can feel the burn of the mark he’d left on her chest, the one that had sent all her walls crumbling.
She’d been okay on her own, had made herself believe that she didn’t need anyone. Then he’d been there, rough and harsh and possessive and everything she’d needed and those beliefs? Well, they’d flown out the fucking window.
Because, she’d been wrong. Oh so very wrong. She not only needs him, but she wants him, too.
. . . .
It doesn't really hit him until he's standing in front of the mirror the next morning tying his tie. It’s the red one, the one that’s always made him think of her. His eyes flutter closed and he thinks he can smell her, vanilla and Emily. Her taste still lingers on his tongue and he feels the pull of her in his gut. He can feel her too, wrapped around him, hot and wet and wonderful. It rushes back to him, the press of her against him. But it’s not right, it’s not whole, and his eyes fly open as emptiness settles in his gut. She’s not here.
He’s not even sure he makes the decision, really. It’s not a conscious process. She’s not here and it’s unacceptable and the feeling all but shoves him down the hallway. His tie is still undone, hanging haphazardly around his neck and he barely has to send Jessica a glance – he wonders if she’s always known – before he kisses Jack’s head and races out the door.
Because fuck everything else, he needs her.
He has no idea what he's going to say, no idea what he wants to say. He just needs to see her, touch her, tell her everything.
. . . .
She turns from the mirror with a sigh, hoping, maybe even dreaming she doesn’t look as terribly depressed as she feels. She doesn't know how to fix this. She’s screwed up. She wishes she had a TARDIS or any other time machine she could use to go back a few hours, months, years, decades? She just wishes she had her time with him all over again. Or at least the last 24 hours.
God, what a mess she's made of an already messy, questionable relationship.
It's probably a good thing she made the others promise to let her go the airport on her own. Seeing her like this… well, she just doesn’t want to deal with all of that too.
She sighs, takes hold of her carry on, and heads towards the door.
After all, she still has a plane to catch.
. . . .
The drive to the hotel is a blur, just shapes and lights. His mind is elsewhere, focused on her, and just getting there. So much so that he's now standing in front of her door without a plan. What does he do? What does he say? And then the door opens and she's standing there. She blinks at him a moment, obviously surprised. Not that he really blames her.
She's perfect. She's gorgeous. She's looking at him as if he's lost his marbles. He swallows around the lump in his throat. He has to say something because he's watched shock, wonder, confusion, and even fear cross her face. He has to do, say, something to take away this uncertainty.
He opens his mouth, because anything has to be better than silence.
Such a simple word to hold such a complicated feeling, but the minute it rings in the air between them he knows it's not just the only thing he can think to say, it’s the only thing he wants to say. It’s the only damn thing that matters.
She stares back at him, wide-eyed and shocked, as if this is literally the last thing she could have imagined happening. So he takes a few steps forward, reaches for the hand holding her carry on. He takes the bag from her and uses his free hand to curl hers against his chest, just above his heart. "Stay.''
She has to feel his heartbeat, he thinks, even as she stands there stock still. She looks like she’s caught in a dream, like maybe if she does anything else it’ll all end. So he waits as patiently as he can because dear God, she’s worth it and he will make her see that this is real.
He watches her swallow and finally ask, "Why?"
Now this is something he hadn't expected, something he hadn't anticipated and maybe even why he had never pursued her in the first place. There hadn’t been anything out of the ordinary before she’d left. Hell, he’d tried to date someone else, had even been happy with Beth for a time. So he shouldn’t be surprised.
He thinks maybe in hindsight he should have given her some kind of clue. Not that their jobs would have allowed it.
He knows it’s not enough, not for something permanent, but he doesn’t know how else to make her see, how else to tell her. Not yet. Not when she could shatter him right here. He’s holding his breath and waiting as she watches him and hoping to God that the thoughts swirling through his head are written all over his face. It’s the only way he can try.
And then she’s stepping closer, the heat of her so very close. He can feel the way her breath caresses his face, comforting and terrifying at the same time.
"I have to go," she tells him, voice so very soft. "I have a life in London. A job."
He swallows and glances away, thinks maybe it’s too late and he’s left it too long. But then her hand is fisting in his shirt, pulling him back and making him focus again. Her eyes are dark and deep and wonderful, and a strange tremulous smile tugs at the corner of her mouth.
"But I can come back."
It’s almost a sucker punch. Five words and he knows so very clearly that his happiness is hanging off of every one of them,
And God, she is so much stronger than him because she soldiers on. "I can visit, for a while. While we… While we see what this," she waves her hand between them, "is?".
It’s tentative and shy, worried and shaking but God, it’s also everything.
"Yes," he breathes, leaning his forehead against hers because he can’t think of what else to do. "Emily. Yes."
He watches the smile spread across her face, the way her eyes lose that look of uncertainty and he thinks, she's never looked more beautiful than in this moment. And then she's kissing him, slow and sweet and full of promise.
"Drive me to the airport," she whispers and he tenses automatically at the thought. But she leans into him, her palm against the back of his neck soothing and strong. "The quicker I leave, the quicker I can come back."
He takes a breath and breathes her in, his heart is both breaking and exploding. He's afraid to let her go but he's willing to do anything she asks. He wants her, more than that he needs her. So he takes her hand and she closes the door and they head for the airport. He hopes they can survive this because the dream of her, the dream of them, is now a reality.
It takes a while, almost six months. In that time, he's made more trips to this airport than he cares to remember. But this time, it's different. This time, she's coming home to stay. He thought about bringing flowers to celebrate, but it just isn't them. Besides, they would only interfere with putting his arms around her.
He hides his growing impatience with the airline the same way he hides his annoyance with the annual budget meeting he's "invited" to attend, with an impassive face. At least, until he finally sees her coming toward him. He feels his face mirror the smile that’s spreading across hers as he watches her make her way down the terminal. He can't help but huff out a laugh.
As they near each other he reaches out and so does she. As soon as their fingers touch, he grabs and pulls and she's up against him. He can smell her, feel her and as he wraps his arms around her he realises this is what he's been waiting for. She falls easily into his embrace, buries her head in his neck and sighs. He knows then, that this, this is home.
As his arms come around her, as she breathes him in, she feels his mouth against her ear.
"Welcome home, sweetheart."
And this time, they both know she believes it.
This is it kids, final chapter. Hope you enjoyed it?!, I also just want to say a massive thanks to my friend Mij, he knows why :P . And, of course, Kavi the Lilo to my Stitch, my ohnana!. Thankyou for MAKING me write this. Love, always!.