Author's Note: Picking up shortly after we left them. And this is another story (like the pool party) that's kind of meandering a bit to places it hadn't been anticipated it would go. So this entry is a little deeper than the first chapter. More at the end.
Twitter: ffsienna27 – For story announcements, etc. If the alerts, (or the site), are down, this is a backup to find out what's going on for postings. There's also random randomness that is my brain.
Tumblr: sienna27 – More randomness.
Tumblr: cmfanficprompts – Just as the name describes. Jointly run with Kavi Leighanna.
Prompt Set #31 (June 2011)
Show: Judging Amy
Title Challenge: The Burden of Perspective
Sixty Years, Give or Take a Day
"So," Emily tapped her fingers anxiously against Hotch's wrist, "do you want to take me out for a spin?"
"Spin you out where?" Hotch murmured back absentmindedly.
He was trying to keep an eye on the game in the corner of the bar . . . Big Slim was winning.
"The dance floor, you goof." Emily said with a huff as she twisted around in Hotch's lap, "we've got a few minutes until the table opens up. And once we get it, you said that we'll have to hold it until Big Slim gets back. So this might be my only chance to get a dance in tonight," then she pouted slightly, "and you did promise."
No. He didn't.
"Okay, well first of all," Hotch responded with a faint snort as he shifted his full attention back to Emily, "I did NOT promise to take you dancing. As I recall, the first time that you even mentioned dancing was an offhand statement on the drive over. And my response then was a heroically restrained eye roll. That said," he continued drolly, "I can see that a DEFCON three pout is about to make an appearance, so," he nudged her bottom with his knee, "let's get moving before they finish up the game."
If they did somehow finish before Emily got at least one dance in, that would be his fault. It would make no sense that it was his fault, but it wouldn't change the facts of the situation. That was simply how life with Emily worked.
And he wouldn't change it for anything.
Emily's mouth started to quiver at Hotch's dramatics.
"It was only a DEFCON four pout," she intoned dismissively while climbing to her feet, "and you know you love it."
Hotch snorted, again.
"I love you," he continued while sliding his arm around her waist, "the DEFCON level pouting, well," he shot her a look as he started walking them through the crowd, "we'll leave that point for discussion on another day."
He actually did enjoy the pouting. Well, not always of course. Not when it meant that she was genuinely sad, or seriously disappointed.
Then the pouting actually caused him some degree of physical pain.
But under 'mildly disappointed over an insignificant turn of events' circumstances, or 'Emily attempting to manipulate him into doing something that he didn't really want to do,' circumstances, he actually found the pouting to be quite amusing.
Not that he was going to elaborate on this point for Emily.
And that wasn't because he thought that she'd take greater pouting advantage than she did now . . . that wasn't even possible . . . it was because it was simply unnecessary. He knew from the little smirk that she was giving him, that she was already quite versed with his feelings on this topic. She pretty much knew his feelings on all topics, great and small.
He kissed her temple.
And that was the wonder of his Emily.
Emily smiled to herself as she placed her head on Hotch's chest . . . she did so love to tease him.
It was a happy thought, but then out of the blue . . . her happiness was gone. Sucked away with a bitter counter thought. One that made her eyes burn with hot tears.
Who would tease him if she was gone?
The question filled her with an unexpected . . . and indescribable . . . flood of grief. More than she could bear. It was a complete one eighty from her feelings of just a moment before. But that was because she knew . . . a tear started to slide down her cheek . . . no one would tease him. Even Dave would stop. She knew this just as she knew that nobody would be able to make him smile again. Or make him laugh. Or just make him happy.
He would be sad all the time.
This fact she knew as well as she did her own name. He would just climb back into his little shell, and then he would wall himself off from the world.
Of course for Jack he would try to engage. But it would be too hard to open himself up again, too painful.
It would take too much.
And she knew that, because she knew him. Knew him better than anyone. And she knew that if she died . . . if somehow the odds of full recovery suddenly twisted tragically against them . . . that he would be lost. And she knew this because in the reverse, she would be lost without him. There would be no more happy days. He was all of her missing pieces.
And to lose him, would be to lose herself.
Feeling that unwelcome flood of grief begin to burn a hole in her chest . . . this time it was the thought of the one being left behind . . . Emily turned to bury her face in the curve of Hotch's neck.
He had one arm wrapped tightly around her body, and the other he was using to cut a swath through the unruly crowd. At present he seemed unaware of this new twisting in her soul . . . this certainly wasn't the place for it . . . but she knew that wouldn't last much longer. It wasn't much farther to get where they were going.
And then he would see her face.
But as she felt the tension suddenly fill his body . . . most likely he'd just felt the wetness of her tears soaking into his shirt . . . she knew his blissful ignorance had passed. So she kissed his neck to stop the question from being asked.
"I'm okay," she murmured just as they reached the patch of shiny wood that had been designated the dance floor, "I just had a bad thought," she sniffled, "or two."
"What was the bad thought?" Hotch whispered as he pulled Emily to his chest and moved them over to the open patch of wall a few paces away.
This was not the first time that Emily had suddenly started crying for no apparent reason. It had happened to both of them more than once over the last month.
Though he of course kept his tears from her.
But the other morning, while she was in the shower, he'd been wiping shaving cream off his neck. And then his eyes were suddenly burning, for no apparent reason.
But of course there was a reason.
There was always a reason.
His had been the flash of a memory from the day before. Them in the kitchen. Emily had leaned over the breakfast bar to wipe away a stray dollop of shaving cream from behind his ear.
She'd deposited it on his nose.
And then she'd laughed . . . and walked off to get her coffee.
And that was the reason for his tears . . . and it was a damn good one. And as he heard Emily sniffle her reason in his ear . . . that she'd just realized how sad he would be if she died . . . he knew that hers was a damn good one as well. So much so that his eyes started to burn as they had that morning he envisioned a world where he was left with nothing but her ghost as company.
"Oh Emily," he whispered over the lump forming in his throat, "your gift for understatement cannot be denied. Because you have to know, that 'sad,' it would not even begin to cover it."
Her death was not something that he allowed himself to contemplate in his waking hours. Not fully. Some part of him felt as though if he envisioned it . . . pictured it in all of its horrible Technicolor . . . that it could happen.
That he was inviting that future.
Was that a foolish though? Yes. Of course. But so was imagining a world without Emily in it. He honestly couldn't think of a more ridiculous reality.
Except maybe one without Jack.
But nonetheless, seeing that his response had triggered a fresh flood of tears to run down Emily's face . . . which had obviously not been his intention . . . he quickly blinked away the moisture that had begun pooling in his own eyes.
A biker bar was obviously NOT a good place for them to get in touch with their feelings.
"But anyway," he continued with a false brightness as he leaned back to give her a slightly watery smile, "that's why you're going to get better, right? So you can drive me crazy for another fifty years."
He would literally kill for that. For fifty more years with her, he would take a life. Someone from their files.
Someone who deserved it.
And he wasn't sure if God was paying attention to them . . . some days he wasn't even sure that God existed . . . but if He did . . . and if He was . . . would He count that truth against their future?
Or for it?
He hoped not to have to find out.
Emily sniffled as she leaned up to press a kiss to Hotch's mouth.
And when she pulled away, she looked up at him for a moment . . . looked into him, for a moment. And whatever she saw there made her reach up to run her thumb along his lower lip.
"If you start eating your oatmeal like the doctor said that you should," she murmured, "then we might even be able to make it sixty."
Then she smiled.
Though the tears were still sliding slowly down her face.
"How do sixty more years sound?" She asked while wiping the back of her hand across her face and sniffling again, "do you think we can make it?"
Hotch's eyes crinkled as he began brushing the remaining tears from Emily's cheeks.
"I think we can do anything if we set our minds to it," he whispered, "So," he cocked his eyebrow slightly, trying to feign a detachment as he fixed her smeared mascara, "is it sixty years? Is that the plan?"
That body count might be getting a little higher . . . but that was okay too.
"Yup," Emily's lip quirked up as she tried to sniffle away the last drops of her unscheduled grief, "sixty's the plan."
It was a goal anyway. One far better than the three month blocks of time that she'd set for herself since the diagnosis.
Not that she thought that she only had the three months to live. Most days . . . like most people . . . she still believed that she could live forever. That was the human condition.
A belief in immortality.
At least your own.
But overall it just had been easier to deal with the cancer . . . or more specifically the treatment schedule, and the anticipated effects to her body . . . in smaller pockets of time. Get through this . . . and then get through that. And then get through the next thing. But she was selling herself short.
Selling them both short.
The long haul ticket . . . she took a deep breath . . . that was the only one to punch. That was the one with no refunds.
And no returns.
"Okay then," Hotch said as he rubbed his hand down Emily's back, "it sounds like I'd better pick up some of that oatmeal. And probably a second job to feed you in your twilight years. You do kind of eat a lot."
Feeling Emily's giggle against his chest, Hotch's lip quirked up slightly.
"Do you feel better now?" He whispered in her ear. And then he felt her nod, right before she murmured back. "I do," she tipped her head back, "definitely. Thanks honey."
And then she squeezed him tightly, so tightly that it made his chest hurt . . . though it had nothing to do with the pressure of her touch. And in that moment he wished that he could just take her home. It was still early, and she wasn't yet tired.
They could make love for hours.
But . . . he closed his eyes for a moment . . . she wanted to play pool. And though he was fairly certain that he could have persuaded her to go with the activities behind door number two, they'd already called JJ and Will.
And they would be there soon.
Okay Aaron . . . he sighed to himself . . . time to get it in gear. You'll have her home, and naked, soon enough. Right now she wants to dance, and she wants to play pool.
So let's get moving on door number one.
"So," Hotch asked as he pressed his lips to Emily's ear, "do you like this song for your dance? Or do you want to wait a minute while I go find you another?"
The joy of an old time jukebox . . . they actually got a little choice in the matter. Well, provided they could wait a minute for the current record to end.
"No," Emily smiled as she leaned back to look up at him, "this one's good. Can't beat the classics."
Billy Idol, Eyes Without a Face. A song from her very young youth. But fortunately youth enough that it wasn't tainted by the worst of her teen years.
It was actually just before everything went wrong.
So she was able to take Hotch's hand with a smile as she turned to lead him back over to the dance floor a few feet away.
"Time to shake a tail feather sweetie!" she called over her shoulder, "our guests will be here soon."
Hotch's eyes crinkled as he twirled Emily back to his chest.
"There will be no feathers," he smirked, "of any kind," his arm snaked around her waist, "being shaken tonight. You get one slow dance now," he pressed his lips to her ear, "perhaps one later. That is all."
It would be a very cold day in a very far off hell, where he would be caught dead 'dancing' . . . as in full out flailing of limbs . . . in Smokey's bar. He'd sooner walk through the place naked.
Actually, he would PREFER it!
"Hmph," Emily harrumphed as she leaned against Hotch's chest, "so much for those sixty years of undying devotion. What was that? Like four minutes?"
Hotch could feel his lips twitch as he rolled his eyes . . . and all was right with their world again.
"You keep that up sweetheart," he murmured in her ear, "and I'm going to trade out dance partners with your old buddy Slash. He's got quite the dish over there."
Actually, his girl was pretty skanky with the leather mini skirt and tank top . . . there was a chain connecting them. But . . . Hotch jiggled his head slightly . . . she did have some nice legs. Well, nice if you didn't mind the rings of razor wire tattooed around her thighs. But he figured you'd probably get used to it.
If you were so inclined.
Which is he wasn't.
Feeling her lips start to twitch, this was going to be good, Emily lifted her head to see what Hotch was talking about. Then she started to giggle.
"Aaron, she's got a face tattoo . . . of her face!"
It wasn't like 'life sized' or anything, but still, it was there. Clear as day. A miniaturized replica of her face, just sitting there on her cheek.
It was very odd. Funny, but odd.
"Oh," Hotch's brow knitted slightly as he looked back, "huh, didn't see that the first time. Bad angle." Then his nose wrinkled slightly as he looked down at Emily.
"Do think it's possible, that Slash is dancing with a girl named Face?"
Emily sobered up as she looked at Hotch seriously for a second . . . then back over to the other couple . . . and then back to Hotch.
"Yes," she nodded, "yes, I do."
"Huh," Hotch huffed, and she nodded again as her eyes tracked back across the dance floor.
"Huh, indeed." Then she tipped her head back.
"What would you say if I got a tattoo of my breast, on my breast? Or maybe just like an extra nipple off to the side?" She asked seriously.
Emily saw Hotch stare down at her for a moment . . . he had no expression. And then he looked away without saying a word.
Her lips started to twitch.
"So I take it that's a no?" She asked with a raised eyebrow.
He ignored that question too.
Yep . . . she thought happily as he tucked her wordlessly back against his chest . . . sixty more years of busting his chops.
That was definitely the plan.
A/N 2: It had been my intention to make the whole Smokey's outing as a more lighthearted excursion, and I'd even written out the scene of them walking over to the dance floor with a totally different vibe, but the melancholy kind of follows them where ever they go. Each of these offshoots has its own feel, and even when I try to mix in something else, the story itself kind of dictates moving back to the center. And the center here, is their relationship, everything kind of circles back around to that growth and the intensity of their bond.
As far as secondary (or thirdondary) characters go, I'm starting to enjoy writing Slash :) He's just so vividly clear in my mind, and he's just always hanging out at Smokey's.
Probably one more chapter here on this arc, (with JJ and Will), and then we'll move back to the story at large.