What Is Life?
Disclaimer: CBS + Criminal Minds = Not Me
Summary: Hotch and Emily talk to the therapist about their issues...
A/N: Ok, this is the last chapter in "What Is Life?" I hope you're all still with the story. This went a little differently then I planned out but enjoy.
Thanks for reading, don't forget to leave a review.
"The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love." Hubert H. Humphrey
The male doctor looked up from his notes, "I see from the small dossier that your friends gave me, that you two work together."
"At one time we did" Emily mumbled, resisting the urge to grab a chair and break the window of the small office, "Look doc, I know you're just doing what you were hired by our nosey friends but I don't need counseling."
The older man scanned the notes, the one thing every single person filled out about the two said that this couple was stubborned and wouldn't relent without a fight.
"Miss Prentiss, Agent Hotchner" the man said, "Your associates hired me to help you, and I understand that you don't like this, but there are obvious signs that you both need to discuss. So how about we compromise?"
"What kind of compromise?" Hotch asked warily.
"We discuss what's bothering you, and see if we can work through this" he stated, "And if after we talk you want to go, then that'll be fine."
Hotch shrugged his shoulders willing to give it a try then looked over at Emily who muttered, "Whatever."
"Alright, who wants to go first?" the doctor asked looking at the couple sitting before him.
"I guess I will" Emily sighed, "Let me start by saying I don't think we need to be here."
"Why's that?" Dr. Jessup asked looking up from the notepad on his lap.
"Because, even though I know we've got issues" the brunette answered, looking up from her nail bed "There are some things that can't be forgiven."
Hotch hissed internally at that, he didn't want to be here either but if this helped make inroads with Emily, he was all for it.
"I think we should hear the man out" Hotch told her, "I mean it may not change anything but it could get us out of here faster."
The brunette shrugged, not paying the man beside her any mind. As much as this was still a sore subject for her, she could admit, if only to herself, that he still held a spot in her heart. And that would be there for a long time.
"Alright" Jessup said, "How about we start with the basics?"
"Fine" Hotch answered, watching her head nod in agreement.
"How long were you two dating?" he asked, looking up at the pair.
"Well, I guess we've been together for what... two and a half months?" Hotch said, looking over at Emily who was picking her thumbnail.
"Three months" she corrected, clearing her throat.
"Three months" Hotch said, "I know, that every couple hits a rough patch every now and again."
"How so?" the doctor asked.
"I was married for over twelve years" Hotch told the doctor, while Emily snorted at that.
"Something the matter, Emily?" the doctor asked.
"Nope" Emily said shaking her head "No problems here, not on this end."
"Aaron, please continue" the doctor assured the younger man.
"Ok" Hotch said inhaling, "I know that with any relationship everyone needs to sit back and re-evaluate things to make sure you're still compatible."
Emily folded her arms, rolling her eyes at his choice of wording.
"Can either of you tell me what led to your friends believing that you needed couples therapy?" the doctor asked.
The two silently looked over at each other, both did not want to revisit that incident, especially since it was still fresh in their eyes.
"Emily?" Jessup asked, "What brought you two in?"
"We're having issues" Hotch quietly answered, looking at the brunette who currently shot him a look between murderous and pained.
"Tell me about it" the doctor asked, "How did it all start out, dating-wise?"
"Here's the thing Doc..." Emily started, licking her lips, "We started dating right after our friends got married."
"Seeing the two of them happy, made me realize that life's too short to not going after what would make you happy" he told the doctor, "And I knew that if there was a chance for a happy ending that I needed to grasp it."
The doctor nodded at that, "So seeing your friends embrace their future motivated you to pursue something with Emily?"
"That and the fact that she was mulling over a job offer in another country" Hotch admitted, "I was afraid that her leaving for London would be the one thing that could really kill me."
The brunette tilted her head towards the ceiling, wondering why the hell she didn't accept Clyde's offer, things could've been so different by now...
"Emily?" Jessup interrupted her thought, "How do you feel now rejecting your job offer?"
"Like a fucking idiot" she muttered, "I could be sitting in a cafe on the other side of the world, happy."
That made the male profiler's heart clench, she could've been happy, and he ruined that with his declaration of love. Shaking his head, he didn't regret telling her his feelings because no matter what, he still loves her.
"And you were in a relationship with Beth Clemmons?" the doctor asked, not missing the way that both agents eyes clouded over at the mention of the woman's name, "I take it from the double dose of silence that, that's a yes."
"Look Dr. Jessup, here's the long story short, he ended things with Beth" Emily said, making a face, "He dumped her, we got together bam less then a two months into our relationship he starts screwing Beth like a teenager in heat."
Hotch shot her a look, "That's not true and you know it."
"Please be honest for once" she snorted, "Give me that much respect. You screwed her because and I quote, 'she doesn't need me'. Remember that? I certainly do."
"I'm not in love with her" he told Emily, "I love you."
Looking out the window towards the lake, "You had a funny way of showing it."
The doctor watched the two combative personalities, "Talk to me about the night he confessed his affair with Beth?"
Hotch closed his eyes, vividly remembering that night he wished he could take back but looked up hearing a scoff from her.
"Look, this is something I'd rather not remember" Emily quickly replied, "I mean it was bad enough living through it, why go through the hassles of having to relive it again?"
The doctor watched as Hotch pinch the bridge of his nose, "Because we haven't talked about it. We've talked about everything but it."
"Are you kidding me?" Emily asked, "Aaron, you think there's anything to discuss after you ripped out my heart and decided to play a round of kickball with it? No, there's nothing to discuss."
"Do you still love each other?" Jessup asked.
"That's not the point" Emily quickly replied, "It's about trust."
"Trust is a big factor of love" Jessup told the duo, "Because Aaron broke your trust, you're starting to doubt if he ever loved you, right?"
The brunette pursed her lips, not answering the question, cursing the psychic shrink. Hotch looked at her in shock, he couldn't believe that she ever doubted his love for her.
Closing his eyes, he cursed himself realizing, of course she doubted him, after betraying her she'd probably doubt him if he told her the sky is blue and the Earth is round.
"Aaron?" Jessup asked, "Do you still love Emily?"
"With all my heart" he whispered, looking at his hands, "And I..."
"What made you engage with this Beth woman again?" he asked, "Do you have feelings for her?"
"He dated her for over four months" Emily interjected, "Of course he's still in love with her."
"Damn it, I've never told Beth that I loved her" Hotch grumbled, "You know that I love only you Emily, for me there is nobody else."
"Then why did you sleep with her?" Emily asked, "Unless you were purposely setting out to end our relationship..." that made her frown, "You did, didn't you?"
He quirked his eyebrow up, while she peered in, "You still think you don't deserve to be happy don't you?"
That caught the doctor's attention, "What do you mean?"
Rolling her eyes, "Two years ago, Hotch's ex wife was murder. She died protecting their son, and he still blames himself for not protecting her."
Her eyes slowly moved to his frame, and she could see the wave of guilt and tremors running through him. No matter how angry she was at him for breaking her heart, she still felt sympathy for his loss.
"Aaron, may I give an opinion?" the doctor asked, meeting the Unit Chief's eyes, "Do you think that because Beth was the first real relationship since your ex wife's death, that you placed too much on it? And when you quickly ended that for a relationship with Emily you once again felt guilty for failing another woman?"
That struck Hotch, it was how he felt whether he wanted to admit it or not. Did he love Beth? No, but did he feel guilty for once again failing someone? Probably, but all he knew was that he couldn't bare to live without Emily in his life, and in Jack's.
"Dr. Jessup, as well intention as this all is" Emily pointed towards the three of them, "There are just some things that can't be fixed."
"But avoiding talking about them isn't helpful either, Emily" he replied, setting his pen down, "It's understandable to be wary and mistrustful of Aaron's apologies but to move forward whether it be to break up or to work things out, you have to meet each other halfway to talk about this. Avoidance isn't helpful in either scenario."
"So what," she drew out, "We just sit here and talk, about our feelings?"
The doctor sighed, he could tell that the two personalities were both use to being in control and having that control out of their grasp wasn't something that either were comfortable with.
The two dominate personalities were perfect for each other, if only they could hear the other out without backing down or running away. Looking at the two, he knew that this was going to take some compromise.
"Can I suggest something?" Jessup asked, "Now just hear me out..."
The brunette sat down at the table, unfolding the napkin and placing it on her lap as she emitted a sigh.
"I can't believe I agreed to this" she muttered, watching the dark haired man that she was angry with walk out from the kitchen.
"Too bad" he replied, "You agreed to it and if you want out, this is the only way."
"Talking out our feelings isn't really therapy" she told him, "I'd rather go ten rounds with Mike Tyson in a ring the deal with this."
"Like I don't know that" he said, maneuvering himself to stand in the doorway of the kitchen, "Look I know you're from the old school of not talking about your emotions, believe me, I am too but just humor an old man ok?"
Leaning forward, Emily placed her elbows on the table, "Fine Dave, just don't blame me when you come back here and find one of us dead" muttering, "And it won't be me."
The older man rolled his eyes, kneeling in front of her, "Talking this out with Aaron is the better choice. I know it's not easy and you'd rather be eating glass then dealing with this, but I promise you, at least you'll have your answers."
Hotch stood in the doorway watching his longtime friend talking to the Emily in a hushed whisper which stopped when the two became aware of his presence.
"I'm gonna go now" he said standing up, not missing the angered look Emily shot him, "Do as Jessup suggested, sit and talk, hell scream and yell. I'll even give you both permission to break everything in the house but don't leave this all unfinished" stopping at the door, "Just don't let my risotto go bad."
Hearing the door close, she didn't meet his gaze as he moved to from the doorway. She decided to bite the bullet and if this had to be done, then so be it.
"Emily" he whispered, standing before her, "I know I've said it time and again but I'm..."
"If you're going to say you're sorry, don't" she told him with a wryly, "I never doubted that you were sorry."
"But I need you to know that I am" he told her, wishing he could reach out to touch her, caress her soft skin, "I want you to believe in me, to trust me..."
"Aaron" she sighed, "Look, I just can't get over this like that" she snapped her fingers, "I know you're remorseful and genuine with your apology, but sometimes sorry just isn't enough."
Hotch hung his head, "I know."
"But you're not the only one to blame in this" she said, surprising him, "I'm responsible for this too."
"What? No Emily, you're not" Hotch started, watching her shake her head.
"Yes I am" she told him, "I didn't realize until now, that I've changed too" placing the napkin on the table she stood up, "Ever since I came back, I've been different and I thought it had to just do with returning to the BAU and me not being able to pretend that what happened last year didn't happen."
"But it's not just that, is it?" he asked.
"No" she told him, "Ever since I came back I've been too worried with trying to make up for everything that I never really focused on what I want out of life" biting her lip, "Then when Clyde came to me with that deal for Interpol, I really wanted to take it because it was something new, going somewhere to start over, a fresh start."
Hotch watched as she slowly paced in front of the table, turning to look at him, "And when you came to me the day after JJ's wedding, I planned to tell you that I was going to accept Clyde's offer."
"I know" he whispered, "I could see that in your eyes, you were ready for a change. That's why I told you about me and Beth, because I didn't want to lose you. I could see that I already was."
"And that's why you kissed me?" she asked, her cheeks turning crimson at the memory of their steamy kiss.
"Yeah, I make no apologies for that" he chuckled, "Because I waited for nearly five years to do that."
"Those were three great months" she admitted with a smile, "But we've both changed since the wedding Hotch and I don't think that this with the added pressures of the job would've lasted along with moving in together so suddenly."
"Is that why you resigned from the BAU too?" he asked, he could accept her resignation from the team but not his life, "Because if it's between us and the job, we can try to work harder together."
Walking over to him, "Aaron, I love the team, but the fraternization rule wasn't just meant to stop relationships but to keep ones that were already there in tact."
He frowned at that, closing his eyes when he felt her hand on his cheek caressing it tenderly.
"Do I still love you? Yes, but I need to make a choice between work and us, I would rather it be us then the job" she admitted.
Opening his eyes, he looked at her in shock, "Are you saying there's still a chance?"
"I don't know" she admitted honestly, "It's not going to be easy, but I do want to make it work. I just still have a hard time trusting you."
"I'll do anything to earn back your trust" he told her, kissing the palm of her hand, "And whatever it takes, whatever conditions you have, I'll do it because I don't want to lose you."
"It still hurts," she admitted, "But I love you enough to want to work through this together."
Hotch closed his eyes, pulling her close to him thanking whatever deity was listening for this second chance.
"Over the last few weeks I've missed you" she told him, "But we're going to have to work on this together, because we both want this, right?" he nodded, "Then we both have to start being open and honest with each other."
Hotch nodded, keeping a firm grip on her, "Remember Dr. Jessup said, that every relationship has it's good and bad patches, but the key thing is to work together to overcome any obstacle? I want that chance, I do want to work together to overcome this."
"I know most people will say forgiving you is a stupid thing to do" she told him, "And maybe they're right but I love you enough to want to work on this and not throw us away. Because I know what I want, and that's a life with you."
"I want that too" he admitted, holding her close to him.
Emily rested her head on his shoulder, "Do you really think we should follow through on his other advice?"
"You mean the anger thing?" he asked, a frown wearing on his face.
"Yeah, the whole if you're feeling angry then get angry because holding it in isn't going to solve anything, thing" she reminded him.
"Couldn't hurt" Hotch told her, "As long as we do it together, we can get through anything together."
Rubbing his hands up her back, he felt blessed that she had given him another chance to make this work. One that he wasn't going to take for granted a memory hit him, making him smile at the thought.
"Dance with me" Hotch whispered, looking down at the brunette with his hand extended, "Emily?"
"Aaron, what are you doing?" she asked with a raised eyebrow looking up at the man she loved, but couldn't find it in her to deny him that request. No matter how tired, angry or confused as she was.
Pulling her to him, Hotch wrapped his arms around her waist slowly moving around in tiny circles in the expansive living room.
"At the wedding, when we danced" he smiled, "That was the first moment that I knew I was in love you. I felt like we were the only two people in the world and I knew that when you danced with all of us, that if I blew my chance on telling you how I felt then I miss out on the best thing that ever happened in my life."
Interlacing their fingers together he grinned as he dipped the beauty making her giggle at the overture.
"What are you doing?" she asked as he pulled her back up to him, "Aaron?"
"I'm wooing my girl" he teased, doing a little tango step around the coffee table with her, "You heard Jessup, we need to work together and I hardly think yelling was the appropriate method in working things out."
"And you're what?" she asked, "Practicing getting us on Dancing With The Stars?"
"You're cute" Hotch sarcastically replied.
"Thanks, I like to think so" Emily replied with a grin, "Okay seriously, what is this?"
"You remember our first real date?" he asked, pressing their chests together as they moved in steps, "How I took you out dancing?"
"Salsa dancing" Emily corrected, "You asked how I learned to dance like a pro."
"And you told me, and I quote, 'Have you met my mother? Do you think Elizabeth Prentiss would have her daughter do anything half assed?'" Hotch chuckled, "And in that instant I knew that we were meant to be."
"Really?" Emily asked, pressing her face against his cheek once he started humming the beat of the non-existent music.
"Mm hmm" he murmured, crossing their legs before moving into the figure eight step, "I knew that if a smart ass remark could make my heart skip a beat, then there was no one else in the world for me then you."
Emily stopped dancing, one hand still holding his next to his chest while the other loosening it's hold on his shoulder.
"Aaron" she said softly, her eyes watering at that admittances, "That's the most romantic thing anyone's ever said to me."
"Well I certainly hope not" he chuckled, pulling back to look at her then cupping her cheeks, "Emily there has never a single doubt in the two months that we've been together..."
"Three months" she corrected with a smile.
"Three months" he reiterated, "I never doubted that you were the only person I've always known that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Are things going to be difficult? Yeah, are we going to have fights? Of course, that's a part of life, human nature."
She smiled as he lightly traced his thumb over her red lips, his eyes sincere and soulful.
"But working through it, together" he emphasized, "That's something we've never done before because we've both been burned in the love department. That's something I'm willing to work on, together if you'll still have me."
Taking in his words, she knew that this was the first time he had ever been honest in trying to save a relationship and that made her fall in love with him even more. That he was willing to give it his all.
Oh she knew how hard he had tried for Haley, but in the end with their marriage, he knew it wasn't something his late ex wife had wanted to work on because it had been over for a long time.
But here he was fighting for her, wanting her to fight for them.
Emily wrapped her arms around his neck pulling him into a deep kiss. Both were giving everything in that moment, for them. For their future.
As she slowly swayed them backwards towards the couch, the fervent need to touch him running through her veins.
Her tongue lightly brushed across his, soft and methodically taking in his essence. Her hand ran up his neck pulling on it with her fingers as they both were filled with so many emotions.
Love, hope, promise and need. A need to be connected.
Emily gently spun them around so her back would fall on the couch with him toppling on her. Panting he looked down at the love struck woman and his felt his heart speed up.
A small giggle escaped her throat once he realized that she wanted to make the next step to be his choice.
The pad of his thumb brushing across her lower lip, he dipped down to kiss her, one of a soft and genuine kiss.
"Sweetheart" he murmured against her lips then sat up, "As much as I'd love nothing more then to make love to you all night long, I want to take this slow."
A frown ran across her face, and he pulled her up and into his arms, content with the warmth of her slender frame next to his.
"This night, as renewing as it is" he said, pressing a kiss on her head, "Isn't about sex, it's about reconnecting."
"Some would say that sex is a way to reconnect" she told him.
"Yes, some would say that" he wryly chuckled, "But I want this to be about us connecting not just on that level but on the most elemental of level."
She bit back a smile, when he brought their entwined fingers up to his lips and kissed them.
"I want us" he told her, "Every single moment. The good and the bad."
Tilting her head up, she gave him a small nod before peppering his face with light kisses.
"You're making it very hard" he murmured, hearing her chuckle, "To resist you."
"I know" she teased, laying her head on his chest placing her hand in his own, "But if this is what you want, I guess I can respect your wish."
"I love you" he whispered, wrapping his free hand around her waist, "Thank you, Emily."
No matter how much they each yearned for that touch, they both wanted to start over slowly and together.
Because both knew the other was the other half of them.
Doug Horton said, "Smile, it's free therapy."
This was a little different then what I normally do, but I hope you all enjoyed it. Leave a review.