Chapter XXI: But love heals all
"She knew she was by him beloved; she knew. For quickly comes such knowledge, that his heart was darkened with her shadow." ~ Lord Byron
He didn't know when it became so casual for him to touch Emily, to hold her. They had been avoiding body contact too much back in DC. He hadn't even given her a hug when she got back from Europe. He was never a 'hug-gy' type, not used to touch or to be touched but with Emily he had overdone it. He couldn't even remember if he had ever touched her not accidentally till the moment they danced together at JJ's wedding. But he could remember all those times she had touched him. The one time that she had brushed on his chest to show him a newspaper during those terrorists attacks in New York, that other time, while in her way follow his order, she gave his arm a small squeeze like it was the most natural thing in the world, like they had done it a thousand times before. And just that till that dance, when all had come down crashing on him. All those feelings hidden in the deepest and darkest drawer of his soul had come out in full force. But it was too late. He was with another woman and Emily was leaving…
"Because we were too caught up into everything," Hotch's answer was in her ear.
"I don't know…" Emily sighed.
He pulled his head back and looked into her eyes. She was questioning her life, the reality, that he was there having said the things that he had. He was familiar with the feelings. It was the same ones that he had, when she had fallen into his arms the other night and after she had admitted that she had feelings for him: the surprise, the inability to believe the reality. He knew that if you keep telling yourself something for too long, you believe it so hard that it becomes a 'fake' reality and, when the actual reality comes, you are just left with an open mouth, unable to process it. And it is even worse when you think that you don't deserve it… He knew what else she was thinking, too. She had said it to him. She was thinking that her crossing the lines had made him turn away from her.
"It had nothing to do with you. Emily, I need you to understand one thing, even if it is the last thing that I do here and in this world: You are a wonderful, brave woman."
"No one says that if they know…" she said, the tears coming again.
She had made him understand that he was perfect to her. He had to do the same to her.
"You are perfect," he interrupted her reassuringly.
She looked at him with big eyes and he was certain that she could read the honesty in his.
"I know I have no actual fact to support it, but I cared for too long, Emily, I think, since the moment you put me in my place telling me that I had to trust you and that you hate politics." Hotch started, pushing her hair behind her ear gently. "I felt something stirring inside me some time after but then Foyet came and I was too guilty for what I had made my family go through…" he carried on.
"Nothing of that was ever your fault, Hotch," she said, compassion, worry and understanding in her eyes, just like when she was at the hospital by his side and all the times she kept him company in a car or over a glass of whisky at his office. "And after Doyle broke loose…" she added after a pause, trying to hide the disgust behind a neutral tone, realizing that they were kept apart not only because of the faults and themselves, but also because of that terrible timing of their lives.
"And you still came back, trying, fighting, talking," he reminded her, "and then I realized that you were worthy for something better than me. You didn't need a troubled man in your life, Emily."
He caressed her cheeks. He had to make a last attempt to explain himself for pushing her away from him, for making that mistake that sent her flying away.
"And I guess my mind had already eliminated any possibility of you wanting me…" he admitted quietly.
"So if I hadn't said anything till now, if nothing had happened, you wouldn't have done anything?" she said, the despair and the anger again in her eyes.
"I don't know," he replied sincerely.
That was the truth. He didn't know. When Rossi appeared in his office making him come to England, during that flight to London, during that walk through the British capital that evening, he hadn't decided yet. If the things hadn't come like that, he just didn't know. Maybe they had to pass all that, not for them, not for her, but for him: to be there, to face himself and his demons and to move on, to move on towards the right direction.
"I can swear to the universe that I love you more than my life, Emily," he said. "But I am me."
She knew that the first was the truth. He had tried to save her from Doyle with all the means that he had. He did pull that trigger to end her nightmare by killing him, even if not literally. He had protected her two times with his own life since he had arrived there.
He just kissed her after some moments lost in her confused eyes. There were no more words left anymore. Only through his actions he could undo what he had done, still not knowing the outcome.
His kiss was gentle, pleading, testing. It took her again some seconds to respond but she did with such force and passion that she surprised him. She invaded his mouth stealing his breath away for one more time and he was more than willing to give it to her. The kiss was getting harder and harder. The taste of tears, of the little blood, when she bit his down lip harder than she intended, the taste of her, herself and her smell were all that his mind could register. Desperate hands were sneaking beneath his suit jacket, grasping his sides, while his own on her back were feeling the warm skin over her silk shirt, caressing it with open palm possessively.
Only through their actions they could fix everything, her, him, them. Only through the fire between them they could be saved, burnt but saved.
Hotch felt himself being pushed to the wall behind him while he slipped out of his jacket, that Emily had already past his shoulders. If she wanted to be in charge, he was going to let her. She needed it. She needed to express her anger to him for letting her feeling for too long unwanted, for hurting her. She had no other way to have her revenge apart from giving in. She was eager for him. He was going to let her take whatever she wanted from him. But he was eager as much as her and he wasn't going to be passive.
The need to feel one another that had been locked away for what seemed like a lifetime, the anger towards one another and themselves for locking it away, the desperation for it, all was there in that corner of Emily's living room, as a strong man, that could bring down the most dangerous of the world, had allowed himself to be pushed on the wall by a slim woman who was attacking him with a raged passion, because that woman could bring him down in a split of a second, because she had what counted to him the most: his heart.
The only coherent words heard over loud breaths and moans were each other's names.
He didn't try to make her call him by his first name. She knew him as 'Hotch' for all those years. With 'Hotch' she fell in love with. He was 'Hotch' in her life and maybe in her dreams. Even if it was still keeping some distance between them, he didn't try to change it. It would come when it was its time.
Her kisses were rough. Aroused bodies were scraping each other. Hands were trying to find their way through to bare skin, fumbling with buttons, sending a few of them flying. Slim fingers were stroking forcefully rigid muscles, while gun calloused, large ones were massaging soft globes. Lips were wandering around. A tongue was licking a porcelain neck and teeth were scraping plain, hard chest.
Emily's breaths, hot on his skin, were becoming more and more irregular. And suddenly he felt her trembling violently in his hands. He hadn't even touched her below the waist. It wasn't possible, was it? When she almost lost her balance and he stabilized her on his chest, he knew it was.
"I'm sorry," she whispered the moment that she remembered how to breath again. "It has been too long and I wanted you for too long…" she continued quietly in embarrassment. She was the attacker in the encounter but her body gave in too quickly and too forcefully.
He silenced her with a kiss. She didn't have to apologize. But Hotch instead of feeling the male pride that normally comes with this type of events, he was feeling guilty, guilty for making himself unreachable, guilty for depriving her from the pleasure that any human being needs and guilty for being the reason that apparently she had let very few to touch her.
He left her lips letting her catch her breath and he started dropping hot, wet kisses on her neck and her shoulders. He fell on his knees for one more time, pulling her body to his mouth. He worshipped her bare chest with tenderness. His action wasn't just sensual. It was more than that. He wanted to show her that she and her body only deserved care. She shouldn't have used it for that damn job but he didn't mind. In any way, he shouldn't have left her cold and alone.
Only one phrase was leaving his lips:
"I'm sorry… I'm sorry… I'm sorry…"
He had heard somewhere that making love was some kind of prayer, maybe not to God, but to the other person. If that was true, at that moment, Aaron Hotchner was praying for forgiveness.
When his mouth reached her scar on her abdomen, he pressed his lips again and again tracing it and he said the same thing.
And then he was asking for forgiveness for another thing, for not being able to prevent another pain to her, for letting that happen and for not knowing what she had been through before she appeared in his office.
Emily bent and put her hands on his shoulders, hugging his head, resting her lips on top of it. And like that, over two entangled half naked bodies, one word was heard:
And with that everything had changed. They weren't 'Hotch' and 'Prentiss' anymore. For him she was 'just Emily' since he had landed in that country. But for her now he became 'just Aaron', not the agent, not the boss, not the hero, 'just Aaron'. She reminded him that they were just humans with all the emotional luggage that this life could bring and with all the mistakes that humans could make. And they were two regular people in love.
She coaxed his head up with kisses till she was able to have his lips on hers. It wasn't a kiss like the previous ones. It was kind and lovable. No tears, no desperation. Just simple, pure love and Hotch knew that he had found his forgiveness. And maybe that's why they had to pass all that, too. She had to leave for him to understand, over those multiple cups of tea, that his life only had meaning when she was around. She had to leave so as for them to be free from the rules and the complexities. They had to face that case, for her to understand that she was worthy, not only for his love, but for his life and for him to finally make peace with whatever he had done, to find peace and an actual redemption there, in her arms, in her loving eyes, in her hot body.
She pulled him up and among tender touches and soft kisses, she guided him to the bedroom. In her eyes there was only admiration and love. She unbuttoned her trousers. When she pushed him on the bed and fell over him she was completely naked offering herself to him. She fell over him like a sweet, perfect blanket, shielding him from his nightmares, his fears. She licked and kissed every part of his body that she had attacked before. He let her take away his last pieces of clothing. It was his way of offering himself to her, showing her that he was hers and for her to be sure that he was actually there and she wasn't trapped in some adventurous fantasy. This was a reality, a very actual reality.
Her lips was pleasuring the back of his neck as his head was lifted to devour her, her hands in his thick hair and on his shoulders. Her whole body was brushing tentatively, up and down, over his. His fingers were caressing smooth, warm skin, travelling south, exploring her. She was so responsive and loud that any man could have lost control too early. He didn't. This was about her and he had to persuade her that she was precious and she was the most precious thing in his life. When she fell on him lost for one more time, he turned them and he was on top. From that moment he had to be in charge.
Moments before he connected them in the most perfect and meant-to-be way for two people in love, he pressed his lips onto her forehead and, looking into her eyes, he said the phrase that maybe no one had ever told her before that most intimate contact.
"I love you, Emily."
His guess was right judging from the watery corners of her eyes and the smile that lightened up her face, the first smile after the nightmare they had gone trough.
"I love you, too, Aaron."
That was the last OK that he needed. Looking into each other eyes, they made that most basic connection, meeting each other half way, like they always did. The pace that started was slow, like they wanted for the time to stop and the eternity to start like that and like there, back and forth, like their whole lives were formed by steps back and forth.
Hotch was restraining himself. It wasn't only her body that was on edge and despair for that contact. It was his as well. But he didn't want to be rough. She needed love and affection. Her hands went to his face and she brought it to hers.
"Take me, Aaron. I'm yours. I always was and I will always be."
That brought tears to his own eyes. The woman who so willingly and eagerly had him sheathed in her body wanted him all. She had accepted him completely, like he was, the tender and kind man, the troubled but passionate and dominant alpha male. She loved 'Aaron' but she fell in love with 'Hotch'.
And with that the pure passion was unleashed. The fire, that was burning, growing hotter and hotter, broke completely out of control. The pace increased in an almost inhuman speed. Teeth were giving bites. Short nails were scratching a broad back. Lips were being tortured in the most delightful way making breathing more and more difficult. Fingers were clutching flesh with anticipation. A wet heat was squeezing him over and over again. The only sounds were hard sighs, satisfied cries and groans and that sound of the two bodies becoming one.
The fire led to the explosion with them screaming each other's name and it left them in that sensation of completeness, that, when you were entangled with someone you love, was the most real glimpse to heaven.
They didn't have any power left to move. His only thought was to shift himself from over her. But Emily held him tightly on her. She didn't mind if he was squashing her a bit. She wanted him there, still inside her, making the whole experience undoubted. And he was absolutely fine with being like this, being sure that she was there, loved and protected by him, by his whole body and existence from whatever was further his sweat covered muscles.
After what seemed like an eternity, they kissed and the passion was there again, gaining strength from each other, like they had gained strength from each other during those whole years. The fire burnt for hours and hours draining every last bit of energy.
When Emily finally fell asleep on the sound of his heart beat with her head on his chest, Hotch placed a thankful kiss on her crown. He heard her sighing, a soft, happy sigh, much different from all the others heard during that afternoon and night. Helet a sigh himself, a content sigh of relief and he closed his eyes at the end of a finally better day.
"Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs." ~ William Shakespeare