1. Easily Misconstrued
The first time it happened you didn’t think much of it.
You had been working at the BAU for 6 months and were still the designated newbie. That could’ve, of course, been put down to your age as you were considerably younger than most of the other agents, but it didn’t bother you much either way. The gentle teasing was all in good fun; Rossi telling you to bring your ID whenever you all went to a bar, you asking where he left his walking stick. Nobody took it to heart.
You were all at a bar when it happened, in fact. A case you’d all been working on for 2 weeks had just officially closed, so celebrations were in order. You’d been sent up for the next round, but had been ambushed by a couple of local guys. They weren’t being creepy or rude to you by any means; they were just the type of guys who clearly didn’t take social queues very well. You’d been standing with the tray of drinks trying to get away from the crowded bar for around 10 minutes before Hotch showed up.
“Yeah it’s great work,” you motioned back towards your booth, “But I should really get back-”
“Wait so have you like, shot people?” The taller of the 2 guys asked (Mark? Mike?)
You nodded, “Yep, but sorry can I just-”
The 2 guys let out noises of amazement, the smaller man (George? Greg? He looked like a Greg) was looking at you like you just said you wrestle crocodiles for a living, “That’s so cool, have you ever been shot? Like by a criminal?”
You gave a polite laugh, “Nope! No not yet. It’s been nice talking to yous but they’ll be wanting their drinks.” You nodded again to your booth and the 2 men looked round, before again letting out sounds of excitement.
“So they’re all agents? Shit thats awesome, could we-” Before he (Michael. Was definitely Michael.) could finish talking, Hotch was suddenly blocking their view.
“Everything alright here Y/N?”
You could’ve kissed him. “Yeah! Yeah was just about to come back to you all.” You started making your way over to Hotch, holding the tray above your head. “Was nice talking to you guys but gotta run.”
They tried to continue to speak to you but you were being ushered away by your boss. You were laughing, almost throwing your head back, “Thank God you came when you did. I think they were about to ask to come meet you all.”
He chuckled, “You won’t be getting sent up for drinks again. I hope you know that.” Then, his hand was on the small of your back, moving you out of the way of someone walking in your direction. Despite the 2 layers you had on his hand burned through to your skin and you felt a slight flush build across your chest.
You always thought Hotch was a handsome man, sure. And a good guy, of course. But any thought more unprofessional than that often got run over by the fact that he was your boss. You wanted to be taken seriously. Being the youngest on the team was hard enough, never mind if you had a school girl crush on your chief. You tried very hard to push it down, and you succeeded most of the time! So you sometimes laughed a little too long at his jokes, or you got a weird sense of pride when he agreed with you. You were only human! And you were more than capable of keeping it in check.
So long as him touching you didn’t become a regular thing.
When you got to the booth, you were greeted with a slew of exaggerated cheers.
“I know I know, I’m useless, just take the damn drinks.” You joked, placing the tray down and sliding into the booth.
Morgan reached for his bottle of beer, “Useless is the wrong word, a pushover might be more accurate.”
Hotch sat down next to you on the outside of the booth as you made a face of shock, “Excuse you I’m not a pushover.” You shrugged, “Plus they weren’t trying anything, they just…” Your eyes wandered over to the bar to see the 2 guys talking excitedly about something, “Had a lot to say.”
Emily shook her head, “Nope no way. No guy talks to a girl for that long at a bar just cause he has an interest in law enforcement.”
You all laughed as you grabbed your wine glass, “They were just being nice! Now shut up and drink, all of you.”
Morgan had a shit eating grin on his face, “I don’t buy it Princess,” He turned to Hotch, “You were up there for a while, what d’you think?”
The rest of the table, including yourself, turned to face the man. His glass was still raised to his mouth as he looked around before his gaze landed on you. He eventually lowered his hand, “I think Y/N is a very impressive person, with a lot of interesting stories. To say they were only interested in her badge I think would be doing her a disservice.”
The table was quiet for a second. You blinked in shock at him as you took in what he said. You were about to thank him when (a very drunk) Garcia spoke, “Wait so were they flirting or not? I don’t get it.”
The conversation moved on, but his words swam around your head long after you’d left the bar.
2. Necessary (?)
You were a little clumsy. You knew this, and after 10 months at the BAU, your team knew this too. In fact, they allowed for it. Expected it.
So when you fell while chasing after an unsub, no one was particularly shocked. After all you had jumped the guy in a pencil skirt and heels after he tried to make a run from it from the station. It was impressive, in its own way. Still, going down as hard as you did was embarrassing and the less attention you could draw to it the better. This, you would argue, is why you took so long to mention the sharp pain in your ankle.
You had hid it reasonably well from the team; only Spencer seemed to notice but didn’t push the matter with you. You had managed to get to the jet with little to no issue, but the stairs with your go bag would be a challenge. Everyone else had boarded. You had the idea to go last so that no one would notice. Of course, that would be too easy, wouldn’t it?
“After you.” Hotch said, not looking up from his phone.
You shook your head, “No you go ahead, I’m good!” You realised after you pushed it just a little too far as he stopped typing and looked at you. He raised an eyebrow.
“What?” You asked, smiling a touch too wide.
“I need to shut the door Y/N,” he gestured towards the stairs, “after you.”
Your smile dropped as soon as he looked back down at his phone. You let out a huff and began to climb the stairs; your go bag feeling heavier than it should. You made it up 3 before your ankle buckled and you swung into the railing. You blinked hard at the pain that was now shooting up your leg.
“Are you alright?” Hotch was now a step behind you and as you glanced over your shoulder you could see the amused but concerned look he was giving you.
You tried to smile, “Yeah, my ankle’s just not been quite right since earlier,” you laughed, “Should’ve swapped the heels for trainers after that I think.”
“Are you in pain?” He asked, his tone changing to one purely of concern.
“Barely,” you lied, straightening yourself up, “I’ll manage.”
You made an attempt to get up the next two steps before once again your ankle gave out and your hip went into the railing as you swore under your breath. You rotated yourself so that your back was against the barrier.
“You’re in pain.” You glanced over at him, only to see him put his phone away and swing his go bag over his shoulder.
“Okay so it’s a little sore. I’ll be fine, I just need to take my time.”
“Y/N-” You had already started to get up to the next step but subsequently lost your footing again and fell backwards.
Hotch caught you (because of course he did), one hand on your elbow while the other was on your hip. His grip was tight and even though you knew it was only so you didn’t send both of you falling down the stairs, your mind went blank and your face flushed.
“God, I’m so sorry.” You went to try and lean against the barricade, but his grip tightened.
“Take your time, it’s fine.” He said softly, “Catch your breath if you have to.”
The height difference between the two of you became very apparent now as even though you were technically a step higher than him, the back of your head was gently placed against his shoulder. Which meant the voice he was using to try and reassure you just sounded whispered and low in your ear. You were glad he said you could take a second as your brain decided to reboot; all you could think about was the heat radiating off of him and the feel of his hands on you.
“I’m going to help you up the stairs.”
Since your brain was still loading, all you could do was nod and allow yourself to be moved by him. He slid your go bag out of your hand and moved his arm so that it was round your back. Finally your brain and mouth were in working order. “Thank you for this. I promise I’ll leave the serial killer tackling to Morgan from now on.” You were glad you could speak coherently as your brain was currently catching up on the fact that Hotch smelled like coffee, pine and something expensive that you couldn’t put your finger on.
He chuckled, “Don’t say that. That boosted the team’s morale today.”
You let out a bark of laughter just as you reached the mouth of the plane, “I’m really glad to know that was entertaining.” He went to continue helping you into the plane, before you stopped him. After today the last thing you needed was the team teasing you for getting all cozy with Hotch. “I think I’ll be okay from here, Boss. But thank you.”
“Oh, of course.” He said, almost seeming to forget himself. You detangled yourself from his arms and almost regretted your decision as you felt the heat leave your side. He was facing you with your go bag still clutched in his hand. “Are you gonna get checked out?”
You raised an eyebrow, “What? Like by a doctor?”
He gave you a look, “Well I don’t think a professional wrestler would be much use, do you?”
You shuffled into the plane, laughing, as he began the process of closing the door. “I don’t know surely they’ll know a broken ankle when they see it.”
He turned round giving you a concerned look, “You think it’s broken?”
You gave him a teasing smile, “I’m messing with you Hotch. If it’s this bad tomorrow I’ll get an appointment.” You put out your hand, gesturing for you to give you back your go bag.
He held onto just as tight as before, “Sit down, I’ll put this away. And take those shoes off before you break the other ankle.”
Your head fell to the side, “I can manage it now Hotch, come on-”
“Order, Y/L/N. Go sit down.” He had a stern stare now. Which you matched. You don’t know why you decided now was the time to be prideful after you spent the last few minutes unable to compute after he touched you. But here you were.
You stared at each other for a while, with no real malice behind it, before you conceded. Leaning against the wall of the plane you took off your heels, never letting your eyes leave his. It felt like a battle somehow. Like a game you didn’t quite know the rules to, but desperately wanted to win.
You hated to admit it but your feet did feel better almost instantaneously.
“Better?” He asked, taking your shoes from you.
“Barely.” You lied again, “But thank you.”
He gave you the ghost of a smile and turned shaking his head.
“What took you so long?” Emily asked as soon as you entered the plane’s seating area.
“And where are your shoes?” Spencer asked, looked genuinely concerned.
You were about to explain as you sat down before Hotch joined you.
“You were right Y/N.” You cocked an eyebrow at him.
Stoic as ever, he pulled out his phone again. “They were too small.”
A smile broke out on your face and you laughed harder than you had in a long time. The rest of the team joined you of course, but you liked to think you had a moment there where only the two of you knew what was going on. An inside joke. Just for the two of you.
God you had it bad.
3. Totally Innocent
You had been at the BAU a year and you still didn’t know how everyone managed to get their paperwork done so quickly. The reports, the forms, the recommendations; they always took you an age to finish. You had sped up in the last few months! But you were still always the last in the office. Well, apart from Hotch.
You were finishing a field report when your eyes began to droop and the yawning started. You were resting your eyes for a second when you heard a voice from behind you.
Your head whipped around to see Hotch standing behind you with a concerned but amused look on his face; a look that Garcia joked was created just for you. He had his arms crossed across his chest and his sleeves were rolled up to his elbows. He’d lost the blazer but his tie was still in place, though obviously loosened. Your sleep addled brain reminded you not to stare.
He raised an eyebrow, “Go home, you’re exhausted.”
“I’m almost done I swear, don’t worry.” You said with a light laugh, turning back to face the papers on your desk.
“What is it you’re still working on?”
He had taken a step towards the back of your chair and if you craned your neck just a bit, you could see him attempting to get a better look at the form.
You held it up slightly, “Just the field report for the Delaware case.”
“Lets see…” He murmured, almost to no one. He then placed one hand on the back of your chair and the other on your desk so he was leaning over your shoulder. You could feel the backs of his fingers pressing into the back of your shoulder as he skim read the report. His face was so close to yours you could hear him mumbling out what you had written under his breath.
You had always had intrusive thoughts, as so many others do. ‘What would happen if you did X’ type stuff. Usually they were a lot funnier and more ridiculous than ‘What would happen if you kissed your boss on the cheek’. And usually they would disappear, after you saw how laughable they were, but this one seemed to egg you on. ‘Would he blush?’ you thought, ‘Would he kiss you? Would he take your head in his hands and kiss every patch of skin he could? Would he-’
And like that, the trance you were in dissipated and you were reminded this was your employer who was old enough to be your father.
“Hm?” You said turning your chair to face him again as he was back to standing at his full height.
He, once again, raised an eyebrow at you. “You didn’t hear a thing I said.” It wasn’t a question, but more of a statement.
“...Maybe I’m more tired than I thought I was.” You gave him a sheepish smile as he sighed.
He leaned over the table and took the papers off of your desk, “Go home, Y/N. You’re no use to anyone half asleep.”
You had a brief stare down, but you lost your edge as you stifled a yawn and he started laughing.
“Shut up Hotchner.” You muttered, packing up your stuff.
He chuckled again before squeezing your shoulder and walking back towards his office. You tried really hard not to watch him go.
You really did.
4. Take My Hand (?)
Everyone in the BAU had their battle scars. It came with the job. You had just hoped, however, that your first experience wouldn’t be so dramatic.
There's something very invasive about getting stabbed, you thought. The knowledge that someone had gotten close enough to you to do this, and there was nothing you could do to stop it. Completely helpless.
Of course it was in the field; an unsub that got the upper hand on you. You were left with 3 stab wounds, though you were told you did quite a number on him. You didn’t remember much of it in all honesty.
You remember the fight, then a searing pain, and throwing a stupid amount of punches. Then nothing. Followed by loud voices and someone holding onto your hand for dear life.
The first thing you remembered clearly after the stabbing was being on a gurney and bright, white lights surrounded you. Your head fell to the side and you saw Hotch basically running along the side of you, his eyes red and face pale. The vice grip on your hand still hadn’t let up.
When you woke up, Hotch was there. Your hand still clasped in his as he slept. He was sitting in one of those uncomfortable chairs with his head resting against his shoulder. He looked tired, and like he hadn’t showered for a while. You let him sleep for around 20 minutes before you squeezed his hand and he woke up.
“Y/N.” He sounded relieved, and a small smile had taken route on his face. “How do you feel?”
You looked around the hospital room before attempting to adjust yourself in bed. A sharp pain spiked through the middle of your torso. You grimaced.
“I’m okay Hotch, I’m just getting my bearings.” You shot him a small smile, which he returned. “How long was I out?”
His face faltered a little, “Just under 2 days. The doctors had-”
“I’ve been in a coma for 2 days?” You exclaimed, now concerned. You immediately tried to sit up properly which meant more shooting pains. Hotch’s other hand came up to rest on your shoulder, pushing you slightly back down onto the bed.
“An induced coma, L/N. You lost a lot of blood. They needed to do a couple blood transfusions to stabilise you and it was easier to tell if your body had accepted the transfusion if you were under. I promise, it was the safest call.
You settled then, still slightly frustrated, but you knew it was down to the medication. Slowly, with each small circle Hotch rubbed on the back of your hand with his thumb, your irritation faded.
Shortly after, a Doctor came in to give you a once over; you sent Hotch out to get himself a coffee. He looked like he needed it.
“Quite a man you’ve got there.” The Doctor said as she checked the wound just above your hip.
“Sorry?” You were still a little out of it.
“He’s not moved from that seat for the past 2 days. I’m not sure if he’s eaten.”
You paused, “He’s stayed here with me for 2 days?” The doctor nodded. “Where did he sleep?”
She moved on to the slightly smaller wound at the base of your ribcage, “In that chair. We tried to get him to go home but,” she shrugged, “couldn’t be persuaded.”
You smiled a little to yourself, “Idiot.”
The doctor chuckled, securing the last bandage at your sternum, “Very intense man, if he didn’t come in with you with that badge I’m not sure I would’ve let him stay.”
“He’s soft under all that bravado, I swear.” You adjusted your gown, “Thank you for letting him stay.”
She smiled softly at you, “Ma’am if I didn’t he said he’d get my license revoked. I can’t say he left me much of a choice.”
When Hotch came back with his coffee you made him apologise to the Doctor who’d been so kind to you and demanded he went home.
“You’ve just woken up, I’m not leaving.”
“Aaron you’ve been wearing a bloodstained shirt for 3 days. I’m in good hands here, plus I think you’ve scared the staff enough that they’d fear for their lives if they didn’t alert you to anything and everything.”
He gave you a look, equal parts embarrassed and exasperated, “I was making a reasonable re-”
“Go home Aaron. Take a shower. Get some sleep. Please.” You gave him your most pleading look.
He gave you the look that you had come to agree that was only given to you. “...I’ll be back first thing tomorrow morning.”
You nodded, “So long as you get some sleep and wash my blood out of that shirt, that’s fine with me.”
“...I’m waiting until you go to sleep. Then I’ll go.”
You raised an eyebrow at him, “You can’t be serious.”
The look he gave you told you that he was.
“...Fine. Get the lamp.”
He shot you a small smug smile and did as he was told.
You quickly drifted off; the last thing you remember from that night was the ghost of a kiss being placed on your forehead.
You convinced yourself you dreamt it.
You knew deep down you hadn’t.
5. Last thought at night...
The budget cuts were no secret. Hotch tried his best to get as many resources as he could for the team, but that often meant sacrificing the little comforts.
“I’m not sharing with Reid again.” Morgan announced, almost seconds after Hotch mentioned we’d have to double up.
Reid’s brow furrowed as you all chuckled, before JJ spoke. “It’s Spence’s turn for the single room anyway. Em?” She looked expectantly at Prentiss, before she nodded taking a key.
Rossi then looked between yourself and Morgan, before patting Morgan’s arm and taking a key. You tried hard not to glare at the older man, but you had a sneaking suspicion that he had caught on to your feelings for Hotch. You sighed, then looked at the previously mentioned man with a slightly sheepish smile.
He looked up from his phone, about to speak, but faltered. You supposed he had expected to see one of the guys looking back at him. His brow furrowed before looking at the figures that had now rounded the corner towards the elevators.
He then turned his attention back to you, raising an eyebrow, “Are you comfortable with this?”
You shrugged, “Do you snore?”
A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth, “No?”
You took the key out of his hand then grabbed your bag off of the floor, “Then works for me.”
He caught up to you, only to silently walk with you up to the room. It wasn’t an uncomfortable silence by any means. Only a little, weighted. Almost cautious.
You popped the key in the door until the light turned green. You were greeted with a cozy, if slightly cramped room. You walked in, throwing your go bag on the bed before-
The bed. One bed, singular. Your eyes widened as you turned to look at Hotch. He had his phone out but was staring between yourself and the bed. Silently, you continued to stare at each other until he spoke.
“...I’ll fix this.”
He promptly turned around and left the room, go-bag still in hand.
Around 15 minutes later he came back looking even more sour faced than he did before. You looked at him expectantly before he put his bag down.
“I’ll take the floor.”
You raised your eyebrows at him, “They don’t have another twin available? Or a…a cot or something?”
He shook his head, taking his jacket off and placing it over the back of a chair. “I’ll get something sorted out if we’re still here tomorrow.” He was now staring at a patch of carpet at the foot of the bed. “Besides, I’ve slept in worse places.”
“You weren’t serious about sleeping on the floor.” It came out far more like a statement than a question.
He gave you a look, “What’s our other options?”
“We are both adults, I’m sure we could manage.”
He raised his eyebrows at you slightly.
“Well, at least I think I could.” You smirked.
He glowered at you, though there was no real malice there. “I’m taking the floor, Y/N. I’ll be fine.”
You shrugged, standing up, “Fine if you’d really rather sleep on a motel floor than sleep with me, I won’t stop you. Mind if I shower?”
He was suddenly refusing to look at you, but shook his head as he went through his phone.
You realised seconds after you closed the bathroom door how that sounded and mentally scolded yourself in the mirror. You didn’t mean to flirt with him, genuinely. Sometimes it just came out before you could filter yourself. You started whispering to yourself, glaring at your reflection.
“That is your boss. You like your job. Don’t fuck this up.”
You couldn’t tell if you were more relieved or disappointed that he was sleeping on the floor. On one hand the thought of sharing a bed with Hotch was almost too good; there was a slim chance any thought for your career would simply slip your mind and you’d jump his bones. On the other hand you know you’d probably just stay up all night, trying not to move. Trying not to breathe. Pretending you didn’t exist. The professional option.
You tried to push down any feelings of disappointment and reminded yourself why you were here.
You got in the shower that was a warm embrace from the cold of the room. You expected it would heat up soon, but the hot stream of water was more than a welcome feeling.
You jumped out after around 15 minutes, got changed and started towel drying your hair. You walked out to see Hotch on the phone, staring out of the small hotel window. You sat on the bed and quickly established it was Jack he was talking to.
“And what did Jenna say?...Really? I think you were right...No it wasn’t nice at all…”
He didn’t seem to notice you were out of the bathroom yet as he was lost in his son’s world. It was odd getting to see Hotch with his guard down. His voice was softer and you could hear him smiling.
“Your Aunt Jess sent me the video! You did amazing!” He said excitedly, before you saw his face drop slightly in the reflection from the window, “I know, buddy. I’ll be at the next one I promise.”
Your heart broke for him a little bit. It was a well known fact Hotch didn’t get to see his son as often as he’d like, but it was clear the kid was his whole world. You’d never heard him speak like that to anyone; there was so much care, so much caution in his voice. He sounded almost timid at that moment.
“... I miss you too, buddy.” He turned away from the window and saw you sitting on the bed. You shot him a small smile that he returned. “I’ll call you first thing tomorrow, okay?... I will, I love you.” He smiled one last time before hanging up.
“Jack?” You asked as he went through his phone.
He shook his head, not looking up, “Reid.”
Your brow furrowed for a second before his eyes shot to you and you saw a smile play on his lips.
“You had me for a second there.” You laughed, “How is he?”
He started to walk over to you, smiling, “Good, though he got into an argument with his friend Jenna.”
“Really?” You asked, crossing your legs, “What about?”
He shrugged, “She said one of his friend’s haircut was dumb.”
You raised an eyebrow, “Bit rude.”
He nodded, smiling to himself . “He thinks she has a bit of a mean streak. His team won their soccer game today, though. He scored the winning goal.” He gushed a little sitting down next to you. “My sister in law videoed it for me.”
He brought up the video on his phone before hesitating, almost concerned he was boring you, “You don’t have to…”
“No I wanna see Reid score a goal,” he laughed as you continued, a touch softer, “Come on, let me see.”
He gave you a look over, almost like he was checking to see if you were just humouring him, before showing you the video.
“Which one is he?” You asked squinting a little at the poor quality video.
He pointed him out just as he was about to score, “Hey he’s pretty good. How old is he, ten?”
“Nine.” he said, smiling at the video. “His coach wants to move him into one of the older age groups though.”
“That's exciting!” You said, genuinely excited for the boy who was now getting victory hugs from all his teammates. “What d’you think.”
He shrugged, locking his phone as the video ended, “I think it’s a good opportunity, but he’s very young. I don’t want him…” He seemed to pause, going over his words. “He’s good at this. I don’t want it to knock his confidence.”
You nodded, “That’s fair. Is he still enjoying it?”
“Tonnes,” he nodded, “I just worry about if it stops getting challenging for him and he loses interest because I didn’t make the right choice.”
Your brow furrowed, “Did the coach give you a deadline on when you had to make a decision?”
He looked a little embarrassed, “Well, no. But…”
You raised an eyebrow at him, “Have you spoken to Jack about it?”
“Not properly, no.” Now looking even more bashful.
You chuckled, “How have you managed to get so in your head about this already?”
He gave you a slightly confused look, you continued.
“If he’s happy right now and he has friends there, and it looks like he does, I say why mess with it. He’s not even 10 yet, Hotch. Give yourself a break here.”
He seemed to nod, going over your words. “I just worry because I’m not…” You tilted your head, understanding.
“Hotch there’s no one out there who knows your son better than you do. Any decision you make, you made it with the best of intentions. I don’t think you can ask for more than that.” You spoke softly, offering a gentle smile.
“Thank you, Y/N.”
Your smile widened, “Don’t worry about it.” You went to get up from your spot on the bed as his hand landed on your knee. You looked between your hand and Hotch as you gave him a slightly quizzical look.
“I mean it, Y/N. Thank you. I really needed to hear that today.” His voice was soft, almost as soft as it was with Jack. But there was something else there. Something quiet. More like an elephant in the room as opposed to hidden subtext. His eyes looked glassy. Not teary by any means, but full of emotion.
“Don’t tell me you’re getting soft in your old age Aaron.” You put your hand over his, testing the waters almost. Your fingers immediately curled around his, and his did the same.
“You’re a good woman, Y/N.” The look in his eyes was so soft, so kind. You gave him a small smile, unsure of what to say to that.
He seemed to understand, looking away for a second. “Sometimes I’m not sure if you know how good.”
You were starting to feel yourself blush. “Maybe you just bring out the best in me.”
He looked at you again. That same cautious silence from earlier fell over the room. You could still feel the heavy weight of his hand on your knee and the ever present grip on your fingers.
It couldn’t have been more than a few minutes, but you sat just looking into this man’s exhausted, kind, enveloping eyes. The look he was giving you felt all encompassing; like only you two had ever existed. Like a millennium had been leading up to this moment. You knew Hotch had a way of making people feel like this; like every conversation you had with him was somehow the most important thing in the world.
But the way he was looking at you, it couldn’t possibly be one sided, could it?
“Aaron…” You began, unsure of what it was you wanted to say. Your voice came out far more timid than you felt. A look of concern crossed his face for a millisecond and, with one final squeeze, he let go of your hand.
“I’m going to shower, I’m sure you're tired.”
And like that, he was gone, locked away in the small bathroom.
You sat there, unsure of what to think, until a drip of water hit your neck and shiver ran up your spine.
You were back to reality. You were in a hotel, somewhere in Michigan. You were cold and your hair had made the back of your top damp. You and Hotch had just held hands for around 5 minutes. You were probably in love with him.
Who were you trying to fool? You were definitely in love with him.
And with that simple acknowledgment, you felt your heart jump and your brain stop. It could’ve happened at any time; it had definitely been in the making for a while. Maybe when you were shot, maybe when he helped you into the plane after you fell, maybe when he first paid you that far too honest compliment in front of the team. Or any of the other small moments in between. You may never know when you fell in love with him. You’d never know if he felt the same.
And that’s just something you’d have to live with.
You blew dry your hair basically through muscle memory and quickly got into bed. You left a lamp on at the far side of the room; it was bright enough that Hotch could see what he was doing when he got out the shower but not so bright you couldn’t sleep with it on. Not that you thought you’d be sleeping much tonight. It was more than likely you were going to stay up and think about how you would secure a transfer out of the BAU. How you’d have to find some excuse that would fool your new found family. How you’d have to get Hotch to approve said excuse.
You couldn’t stay, not knowing what you know. Not feeling how you feel.
Hotch was too good a man; he wouldn’t deserve the assumptions or whispers. How could the BAU survive the Unit Chief shacking up with one of his agents. And make no mistake, everyone on that team was one of his agents. You all knew where your loyalties lay.
You couldn’t ask them to lie for you.
And of course this was all under the assumption that Hotch felt the same way about you as you did about him. Recovering from a rejection like that would be mountainous; trying to work with him would be impossible.
You told yourself the droplets of water hitting your pillow were from your hair and squeezed your eyes shut.
You fell asleep trying to forget the feeling of his hands on you.
+1. ...First Thought in the Morning
You awoke to see Hotch putting a blanket down on the floor at the foot of your bed. You could see the worn out red t-shirt he had on and his still-wet hair dripping down his neck. He looked how you felt.
He sighed looking down at his bed for the night.
You watched as he walked past the bed and grabbed a blanket from the wardrobe. It looked thin and the room had still yet to warm up. Wet hair definitely wouldn’t be in his favour tonight.
You thought about saying something, but what would you say? ‘Hey boss, come sleep with me. I’d tell you it won’t be weird but I figured out tonight I’m in love with you. What side of the bed do you sleep on?’
You almost scoffed at yourself.
With one last glance at you in the bed, he got down on the floor, and he was out of your sight.
It took around 15 minutes for the rustling to start, always followed by a sigh or a huff. Then he got up to get a fleece from his go bag. The last straw was when you heard his teeth chattering.
“For God’s sake Hotch, just get in the bed.”
He sat up comically slow, turning to look at you as you put on the lamp. His hair was still a bit damp and was sticking up at ridiculous angles. You sat up, probably looking a little disgruntled. And you were. You were exhausted, emotionally and physically. You got that he didn’t want to make you feel uncomfortable, but this was just ridiculous.
“You woke me up, and I don’t think either of us will get a great night’s sleep with you down there.”
He was silent, as he looked between you and the space in the bed next to you. You followed his gaze, huffed and put one of your pillows between you and the empty half of the mattress.
“There. Happy?” You sounded almost mocking, “Our shoulders won’t even touch. Just get off the floor.”
You lay back down and turned off the light. There was no movement in the room for a minute. No sound.
“L/N, put the light on.”
You knew that tone. You let your eyes roll and sat up, doing as you were told.
He was looking at you sternly from the foot of the bed. He must have gotten up on his knees as he was kneeling with his arms crossed over his chest.
You were still mildly annoyed, but mostly just tired. You gave him a look that said, ‘What?’ and he raised an eyebrow at you.
“Y/N are you annoyed I won’t sleep with you?” He sounded almost smug. The hard line of his mouth was still there, but there was an almost playful look in his eye.
For some reason this aggravated you even further. You knew he was oblivious to the epiphany you’d just had but it was all you could think about. And you were so angry. So utterly angry.
You shot him an exasperated look before letting out a harsh laugh. Your face quickly contorted into that of exaggerated flirtation, and your mocking tone returned.
“So annoyed, sir,” you leaned over and patted the space next to you, smoothing out the sheets, as his eyes widened and lost their playful twinkle “please come to bed?” You let your expression linger before dropping it, rolling your eyes. You saw his face returned to glowering, with no humour this time. “You’re a nightmare when you’re tired, okay?” You rolled so you were facing out to the wall.
“I’m not the only one it seems…” He murmured, standing up.
You shot him a glare which he returned as he pulled back the sheets. He climbed into the toasty blankets and sheets and you heard him audibly sigh before letting out a contented ‘mmm’ sound.
“Better?” Your tone a little softer than it had been.
“Much.” His voice was raspy and you could tell how tired he really was. A pang of guilt shot through your chest.
Silence for a few minutes.
“...Are we going to talk about that?”
You sighed. Sometimes you hated profilers.
“I’m sorry for snapping, I’m just exhausted today.”
You felt him turn in the bed, presumably to face you. “That didn’t sound like that’s all it was.”
Quietly you took a deep breath, and paused before speaking. “I don’t know what to tell you Hotch.” You could hear the exhaustion in your voice and grimaced. The mix between genuine tiredness and your inner emotional turmoil were starting to show.
“What do you want to tell me?” You could’ve imagined it, but it almost felt like he was playing with the ends of your hair.
You squeezed your eyes shut and put on as light hearted a voice as you could muster, “Right now? Go to sleep.”
You could feel your throat getting thick with emotion. “Please, go to sleep Aaron.” It almost came out a whisper. A prayer.
The room went quiet. Too quiet; it was the kind of silence that made your head hurt and your ears ring. It stayed like that for around 10 minutes. You couldn’t sleep.You tried, truly you did. But there was too much unsaid. Too many thoughts swimming through your head.
You didn’t know Hotch was feeling exactly the same way.
“I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable earlier. I’m sorry if that’s why you’re…” His voice was already so quiet.
You chuckled despite yourself, “Acting crazy?”
“I was going to say upset.”
For the third time that night you put the bedside lamp on and turned to face your boss.
He was giving you a sympathetic look, though clearly confused.
“I’ve got a lot on my mind, that’s all. You just got the brunt of it I’m afraid.” You gave him a tired, sheepish smile.
He nodded, “Do you want to talk about it?”
You paused; he had a cautious look on his face. Like he was scared to set you off again. Once again, you felt so guilty.
He couldn’t know.
“If I promise I’m fine and that it’s nothing serious, can we forget about it?”
For a second, it looked like he was going to agree. Before deciding against it.
“Can you promise it has nothing to do with me?”
Squeezing your eyes shut for a second, you paused. “...Aaron…”
He sat up, throwing the pillow that had separated the two of you off the bed, “If I’m wrong, I’ll leave. You can file a HR report, whatever you want,” you faced the ceiling, avoiding his gaze, “but I think I have feelings for you.” He stopped, before turning your head back to face him, “And I think you might be feeling the same way.”
Well, what did you have to lose?
“...I love you.” His face broke out into a disbelieving smile, “Realised around 2 hours ago. And I think I’ve had a bit of an issue coming to terms with it.”
He chuckled, resting his hand over your cheek. “So you were so angry because…” You quickly covered it with your own, completely giving in.
“Because I convinced myself that I could never tell you and that I’d probably need to resign in a couple of weeks.”
His face fell, “Why?”
“It doesn’t matter now,” you said smiling, “Nothing else matters now.”
And for the first time in two years, you reached out and touched him with no feeling of uncertainty. You traced his jawline with your thumb, ending with your hand resting on his neck. You looked at his face, illuminated with a warm glow from the cheap hotel lamp. You tried to take a picture of him in your mind; the way his hair was sitting, the way his eyes crinkled, the way his lips moved. All of it.
“Hmm?” You heard how distracted and dreamy you sounded, you didn’t care. You couldn’t drag your eyes away from the mental picture you were painting.
“I said I love you too.”
Your eyes shot up to look into his, “Say it again?”
“I love you.”
As soon as he got the last syllable out, your mouth was on his. The kiss was soft despite its passion. Like you were both scared the other was going to back out. You pulled him against you. He needed to know it wasn’t going to be you.
Now that you had him, you were never letting him go.