Through the Streets of London

Chapter II: London calling

"The secret of flight is this: you have to do it immediately, before your body realizes it is defying the laws." ~ Michael Cunningham

One week after Rossi and Hotch's discussion in the office, Hotch's flight landed at Heathrow airport. He was stiff after eight hours of flight in the narrows seats of economy class. He had managed to take a nap. He had to as it was around ten thirty in the morning London time when he landed.

He was nervous, though. He wasn't the social type of guy and he wasn't so good in meeting again long gone friends. Long gone? Not really. Just one year ago they were all happy and trying to reunite after Emily's "death", thinking that everything will be back to normal for a long-long time. And friends? He didn't really know if that was the term. He and Emily were watching out for each other, talking, they were even laughing together sometimes, after she came back. He didn't know if that could be called friends. They didn't really hang out together. It was this kind of situation when you feel connected with someone, when you have a good communication, a sense of understanding. You are not really too close but there is a bond, a bond of something deeper that only appeared when the circumstances made it surface: during his time in hospital after Foyet's attack and the aftermath of it, when he so willingly decided to put his team's trust on him in danger just to save her, when they danced during JJ's wedding… Oh no… He should stop thinking all this. He was an almost fifty year old man. He couldn't show up nervous about meeting a woman. At least she was a woman that left despite their efforts to make her comfortable again, that at last said she couldn't make roots on the same ground with them. DC didn't feel like home and she took off so easily and she went to the other side of the Atlantic! With the last thought the stoic and reserved Hotch reappeared. It was just a meeting with a former colleague. Oh yeah! Those were the proper words that he should keep saying in his mind again and again during the following week.

The checking of passports and visas took him too long. He finally had personal experience of the long queues of London Heathrow airport that he had heard about and he didn't really like it. He took his luggage and went out to the arrivals hall having put on his suit jacket and tie, holding his briefcase and dragging the suitcase. He wasn't really expecting Emily to be there. He had e-mailed her his flight number but he had assumed he would meet her in the Interpol office.

However, he noticed the smiling brunette standing at the corner waiting. It seemed like ages since the last time his eyes met hers, those big, dark eyes. She hadn't changed at all. The only difference was that she was wearing a skirt - very rare in the BAU - a dark red, knee long, pencil skirt, a same colour suit jacket and a black blouse with a lace collar and some vintage pattern on it. She was holding a black coat in her hands. She looked more lady-like now, not like the girl that used to push bad guys on the ground. Of course. She ran an office now. He smiled back, a true, generous smile and headed towards her.

"Welcome to London, Hotch!" she greeted him politely.

"Thank you, Emily," Hotch answered in his usual neutral tone, when he was close to her, "Glad to see you again," he continued and he touched her arm briefly with his free hand.

A handshake would have been too formal and a hug? May be too weird.

Emily remembered when she greeted Garcia and Morgan in the same airport some months ago. Garcia ran into her arms almost knocking her off balance and Morgan gave her a warm hug. But Hotch wasn't Morgan and, most definitely, not Garcia.

"Actually I didn't expect you to be here. I thought we meet directly at the Interpol office."

"My mother taught me not to leave a friend unwelcomed after a flight."

'Friend'. Yes maybe they were friends finally.

"Come on. I took the tube but a car will come for us in a few."

Hotch wanted to say something when Emily's phone rang. She checked the name on the screen and answered.

"Hey! Where are you? ... OK! We will walk towards the parking. … Is it really the traffic or are you cleaning up?" Emily laughed with the person on the other side of the line, "… OK, OK! You'll come to us. We'll be standing near the exit. OK, G! See you soon!"

Hotch noticed that Emily seemed pretty relaxed talking to the caller. She was smiling warmly the whole time. He was glad that she had already a friend. A friend or something more? He wondered who their driver would be, certainly not some formal Interpol staff person. As soon as Emily ended the call he protested:

"Emily, there was no need for any inconvenience. I could have taken a taxi or the train."

"Believe me, taxis are far too expensive in this city and you don't really want to drag a suitcase in a stuffed narrow, underground train. It was no problem at all and actually there is someone that I want you to meet outside the office."

Hotch followed Emily through the airport. He had gotten curious. Who was the person? He threw a look at Emily's fingers, no engagement ring or something. But wait a minute. Would she want him to meet a boyfriend just the moment he landed? Not really possible but what if he just offered to give them a lift? Hotch felt a hint of jealousy but he knew he didn't have the right. He had Beth when Emily left and she left to make new roots. It was good for her if she had already found someone special. He knew, however, that he would never be comfortable with the idea…

They arrived at the agreed point without much talking. Actually the airport was full of people at this time of the day.

"So how was the flight?" Emily started the conversation.

"Quite smooth I could say but I think I am too used to the jet."

"Commercial flights have too narrow seats and no sofa, don't they? That's why billionaires buy jets finally!"

Hotch smiled at the small joke. And then he noticed Emily's eyes towards the door.

"Here we are!", she said.

Hotch followed her eyes. The person entering should be their driver…

"I keep my love in the trunk. And I drive slowly over speed bumps, so she doesn't bump her head around. " ~ Jarod Kintz

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