Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Here's my newest story. The pairings are Morgan/Garcia (of course!) and Hotch/Prentiss. This is going to be my first full length story with Emily and Hotch as a co-starring pairing. Half of this story will be an AU retelling of one of the most famous CM story lines, and the other half will just be a "what-if" type situation. I hope you'll like it :)

Penelope checked the clock in her office for the twelfth time that evening. The team would be returning any minute from their most recent case in Spokane, Washington, and it had been draining on all of them. Even Penelope, who remained home in Quantico most cases, felt worn down after this one involving a pedophile who kidnapped, molested, then finally strangled his victims.

But she knew someone who would be feeling much worse.

As soon as the clock hit nine, she leapt from her seat and started towards the door. Her heels clicked on the ground as she hurried down the hall of the BAU. Just as she predicted, her whole team was exiting the elevators. Weary expressions covered their faces, none of them smiling even as they saw her. She looked at all of them in concern.

"Did you fly safe, superheroes?" she blurted, her eyes falling on each and every one of them. She looked at Rossi and Hotch, the staunch leaders of their team, both of them looking ten years older than they actually were; Emily appeared as though she were ready to drop onto the floor; JJ and Reid's personalities had deflated like balloons.

Derek — as she expected — looked the worst.

His eyes lacked their usual twinkle. Every part of him was downtrodden, as if he was being weighed down by a ton of wet cement. His gaze drifted up to Penelope's, and her heart broke. This case had affected him the exact way she excepted it would.

"Yeah, we did, Garcia," Hotch said tiredly, glancing down at his phone. He sighed. "Well, that was a text from Strauss. We get the next three days off." His own eyes drifted to Emily's. "Prentiss, do you want to talk about what Noah's schedule will be for the break? I'd like to see him if it's alright."

Emily nodded. "Well, I'm sure Noah would like to see his father," she murmured tiredly. "Let's go talk in your office." She waved to all of them as she and her ex-husband left them to discuss arrangements for their son.

Derek silently slid away from the group, thinking no one would notice him slinking away. But Penelope did, and she followed after him without hesitation. Before she reached his office, he shut the door behind him. She heard the lock slide into place and sighed.

You're not getting rid of me that easy, Derek Morgan, she thought, chewing on her lip in determination.

Knocking sharply on the door, she waited for an answer that didn't come. "Morgan?" she called softly. "Morgan, open the door, please." No answer still. She sighed and lowered her voice so it was quieter. "Derek, you know I'm not going anywhere until you open the door. You don't want me calling your wife do you? Or I could be worse and try Fran if —"

That caused him to open the door. Whether or not it was her threat to call Savannah or Fran, she didn't know. All she knew was she was glad when he opened the door.

"You know how to leave a girl waiting, Baby Boy," she joked, placing her hands on her hips. When his expression didn't change, she sighed and motioned for him to go back in his office. Silently, he retreated inside, and she closed the door behind them. "You wanna talk about it?"

Clearing his throat, Morgan rubbed his forehead and leaned against his desk. "I'll be honest," he muttered, "all I really want is a drink."

"Well, do you have anything at home?" she asked. "Go home, open a beer, cuddle with your wife." She tried to smile, but it fell short.

He shook his head and sighed. "Savannah's not home," he grumbled. "She's at work. But even if she wasn't, I wouldn't talk with her about this. She doesn't like hearing about stuff like this."

Penelope frowned. She knew her best friend's wife wasn't particularly fond of the details of the cases they had to work, but Savannah should have known after being married to Derek for two years that he would need support after cases like this. He needed that after something that hit so close to home for him. She liked Savannah — the woman was helping plan parts of Penelope's wedding — but she didn't understand parts of their relationship at all.

Snapping her fingers, she took his hand and gave it a squeeze. "Okay, I have an idea then!" she said. "Come with me. We're going to get a drink. My treat."

Derek's brows shot to the top of his head. "Baby Girl, I appreciate it," he said. "But it's already after nine. Your fiancé is probably wondering if he'll get to see you tonight."

She shook her head. "Lucky for us, Sam is working late, too," she said, grinning brightly. "So I'm completely free."

He gave her a doubtful look and sighed. "Alright," he begrudged. He gave her nose a tweak. "Give me a few minutes to finish up stuff here, and we'll go grab a drink."

Smiling, Penelope moved to go to the door, but before she could, Derek pulled her into a crushing embrace. Her eyes went wide, but she wrapped her arms around his wide frame almost immediately. She inhaled the musky scent of him and sighed. His arms around her were full of fatigue, and she wanted nothing more than to take all that pain away for him and shoulder it herself.

He held her for another minute before releasing her. "I'll see you soon," she murmured, patting his shoulder before exiting the room.

Fifteen minutes later, Penelope exited her office to find Derek walking down the hall toward her. She smiled and adjusted her bag on her shoulder. "Ready to go?" she asked, offering him her arm.

He took it and smiled, kissing her temple. "Whenever you are," he murmured tiredly.

They arrived at their local bar twenty minutes later. Each of them took their separate cars so they could go home when they needed. As they settled into a corner table, drinks in hand, Penelope studied her best friend carefully. He stared at his whiskey, tracing the rim of the glass with the tip of his index finger.

"They were all eight or nine years old," he muttered, not looking up from the amber liquid. "Just little kids, Garcia."

Penelope lifted her glass and took a sip of her Manhattan. "I know, honey," she murmured. "But you saved Kenton Harris. You got him back to his parents safe and sound, and now he can grow up."

"But this shit is always gonna stick with him," Morgan growled. "Every day of his life is gonna be haunted by this!" He shook his head bitterly and lifted his glass to take a long gulp. "You don't forget something like this. He's gonna need lots of help. "

"And he'll get it," Penelope assured him. "He's got people who love him, who care about him. They'll make sure he's got a support system."

Derek shook his head. "People you love don't always understand your demons," he grumbled. "Even if they should try."

"Is that why you don't talk to Savannah about this?" she asked, cocking a brow. "Because you think she won't understand? Derek, she's your wife. If you think she can't understand, then there's something going on in your relationship you need to work out. You need to talk to her about this." She sighed and looked at him softly, sympathetically. "She's your wife. You should talk to her."

"Savannah doesn't need to worry about —"

Penelope snorted. "Don't give me that," she scolded. "You married her, Morgan. When you said your vows, you made a promise that you would be honest with her."

"Baby, we didn't do any special sort of vows, and I don't think I remember anything about telling her about having to tell her my deep, dark, scary secrets," he joked, sipping his whiskey again. "I didn't have anything to say that wasn't cliché or average." He laughed. "I could probably write incredibly unique vows for, say, you. But for Savannah…it just seems like there's nothing there."

Shaking her head, Penelope narrowed her eyes at him. "You know damn well you should be talking to her," she grumbled, ignoring his comment about her. They said things like that all the time to one another, harmlessly flirting. They made sure Sam and Savannah didn't know about it — who would want their significant other getting chummy with a male of female friend in that way? — but they still did it.

He looked up at her and shot her a foxy grin. "Now why would I talk to her when I could just talk to you?" he asked, leaning forward to tweak her nose.

"You didn't marry me," she pointed out. "You married Savannah."

Sighing, he leaned back in his seat and nodded. "No, I know," he said, rubbing his face tiredly. "I love her, I just…I don't feel like I can talk to her about everything. If I'm being honest with myself, I would say we won't make it to five years. That's horrible to say, but it's how it is."

"Oh, mon cher," Penelope sighed, finishing off her drink. "You don't need to tell her everything. Just the important stuff."

"And you tell Sam everything?" Derek retorted. "Marriage isn't easy for anyone in the bureau. Look at Hotch and Prentiss. They were married for just two years before they called it quits. And their situation is worse because they have a kid."

As Penelope opened her mouth to point out that Hotch and Emily were different people than Morgan and Savannah, her cellphone rang. The ringtone was Sam's. Raising a finger to Derek, she answered the call.

As soon as she put the phone to her ear, Sam's voice filled her ear. "Penelope? You there?"

"Hey pumpkin," she chirped. "Are you home yet?"

"I just got here. I was wondering if you were on your way yet," he replied. The sound of a cork getting popped sounded in the background. She sighed. Apparently Sam was wanting to have a romantic glass of wine before bed.

Biting her lip, she looked at Derek with concern. "Oh, honey, I don't think I'm gonna be back for…" Her voice halted when Derek started shaking his head. "Hang on, Sam." She put her hand over the mouth piece. "Baby Boy, I can stay. Sam can —"

Derek cut her off and put his hand over hers. "Go home," he said. "Sam can't get any hanky panky if his girl isn't around." He winked.

Looking at him doubtfully, Penelope nodded reluctantly. "I'm leaving just now," she said, returning her attention to Sam. "We're done with our drinks."

"I'll see you soon then!" he exclaimed excitedly. "I love you."

"Love you, too," she murmured with a smile before hanging up. She sighed and put her phone back in her bag. Looking at Derek once more, she took his hand and gave it a squeeze, looking at him in the eye. "I'm going home now, but I want you to call me if you need me."

He leaned over and kissed her cheek. "I appreciate it, Baby Girl," he murmured.

They stared at one another for a long moment, unblinking. She smiled again and coughed. "Well, I'm going now," she said, rising to her feet. She placed several dollar bills on the table for the drinks. "I'll see you in a few days."

As she started away from the table, he called out to her, "Goodnight, Penelope."

Turning around, Penelope flashed him her classic grin, hoping it might alleviate some of his pain. "Night, Handsome," she called back before heading to her car to return home to her loving fiancé.


Emily stopped her car in her home's driveway at approximately ten. She and Aaron managed to work out the schedule for when Noah would see his father in a brief period of time. She managed to get home before midnight where she could kiss her son goodnight.

As she entered her home through the kitchen-side garage door, the sound of little feet pounding across hardwood floors reached her ears. She sighed. Somehow her son's nanny didn't think getting a six year old to bed by ten was necessary tonight.

"Mom!" Noah cried, appearing around the corner into the kitchen.

A smile covered Emily's face as Noah ran toward her and threw his arms around her waist. She kissed the top of his head. "Hey buddy," she murmured, releasing him to drop her bag on the counter. "Wanna tell me why you're up still?" She tilted his chin upwards so he was looking up at her.

Everything about Noah screamed that he was Aaron Hotchner's son. The two shared virtually everything about their appearances, save for the eyes, which Noah had inherited from Emily. But when she looked at him, all she saw was her ex-husband. Even his smile was the same as Aaron's, albeit a wider version of it.

"Elise let me stay up 'just this once' so I could see you!" he chirped. "I told her I wanted to see you before I go to sleep, and she said it was okay just this once because I haven't seen you in a week."

As if sensing her name being said, Noah's nanny, Elise entered the kitchen, zipping her coat up and adjusting her purse on her shoulder. She smiled hastily. "Hi, Emily," she said. "I'm glad you're here! I've got to run. My boyfriend just called to tell me that his car broke down, so he needs me to come pick him up."

Emily smiled and ruffled Noah's hair. "Alright, Elise," she said, suppressing a yawn. "I'll call you when we're going out of town next. We got the next three days off, though, so you get them off, too."

"Okay, cool," Elise said. "Sorry I let him stay up this late. I wanted to —"

Holding up her hand, Emily shook her head. "Elise, it's okay," she said with a laugh. "I'll put him to bed. We'll see you later."

Once the nanny was gone, Emily plastered a faux stern expression on her face and pointed to the archway that led to the stairs. "Up the stairs, you," she teased, kicking her shoes off. "You need to get to bed. You've got a busy day tomorrow."

Noah frowned. "Mom, what are you talking about?" he asked as she hustled him toward the stairs. "Tomorrow is Saturday. I don't have to do anything tomorrow but watch cartoons."

Arching a brow, she grinned as they walked up the stairs. "Oh? You'd rather watch cartoons than see your dad?" she asked.

Reaching the top of the stairs, Noah turned and looked at his mother, eyes wide with excitement. "Dad's picking me up tomorrow?" he exclaimed, a broad smile spreading across his face. "Really?"

Emily laughed and leaned down to plant a kiss on the top of his head. "Yup, your dad will be here to get you at nine," she said. "He's gonna take you to get breakfast, and you'll do whatever else he has planned for you."

"Did he tell you what we're going to do?" Noah blabbered on as he plopped down on his bed. He started to slide into his covers, burrowing in the blankets so only his head bearing his silly smile was visible.

"No, I've got no idea what he's got planned," Emily said, sitting on the edge of her son's bed. He doesn't always tell me what's on his mind, she added silently to herself as she thought briefly about Aaron. He never has. Her eyes drifted to Noah's night table where a two photos sat: one of him and Emily at Morgan's wedding two years ago, and the other of him and Aaron from just two months ago at the zoo. Aaron looked so normal, a smile on his face as Noah sat on his shoulders in front of the giraffe enclosure.

There had been a time when she thought she saw that in Aaron, the love and happiness that the smile portrayed, but now she didn't see it anymore. It was what led them to divorce.

Noah sighed. "Oh, okay," he yawned. Out of nowhere, exhaustion appeared in his eyes. It was as if getting into his blankets sparked the need for sleep in him.

Emily moved a piece of hair from Noah's face and sighed. "You're gonna need a haircut soon, little man," she remarked.

He gave her a sleepy smile. "I hate haircuts," he complained, yawning as his eyes started to drift shut.

She smiled, leaned forward, and kissed the top of his head. "I know you do," she murmured. "I love you, Noah. Sleep well."

"Love you, too, Mom," he whispered.

Emily rose to her feet and crossed the room to shut the lights off. Before shutting the lights off, she gazed at her son one last time. His breathing sounded on the verge of sleep, and she sighed. His excitement from before had been mere adrenaline; he would be sound asleep in a matter of moments.

After changing out of her work clothes and pouring a glass of wine, Emily plopped herself onto the living room couch. Her head tilted backwards against the cushions, forcing her gaze to the ceiling. She sighed as she sipped the dark red wine, letting the liquid slide down her throat and warm her belly.

What the hell was she going to do tomorrow? She would be on her own. Maybe she could organize an afternoon with JJ and Garcia. Or an evening. Either way, she wanted alcohol or caffeine.

As she sat with her wine, she closed her eyes, leaving herself to the mercy of her thoughts. Somehow, yet again, they drifted to Aaron. She hated that her mind kept punishing her by returning her there, but it happened unconsciously.

Her marriage of two years to Aaron Hotchner had been a happy one until the last six months of it when they realized they couldn't sustain themselves on secrets and emotions not being shown. Hotch complained she didn't tell him enough about her past to the point where he felt like he knew nothing about her.

She never told him it was to protect him. Corpses lurked in her closet that no one wanted to know about. Open and gaping wounds still lingered within her from the darkness that remained in blotches on her conscience.

Her eyelids felt heavy against her eyes, and gradually she began to doze off.

"He's gonna look just like you, ya know?" Emily said with a smile as she and Aaron stood over their son's crib. Six month old Noah lay on his back, his eyes closed and his little tongue poking out of his mouth. "I noticed that when he first came out of me."

Aaron smiled one of his rare, small smiles and wrapped an arm around his wife's waist. "Well the first thing I noticed about him was that he's got your eyes," he said in a hushed tone so as not to wake Noah. "Same shape, same color, all of that."

Shrugging, Emily leaned into him and sighed. "Ah, well," she said wistfully. "Most people won't notice that the same way you do, though."

"Rossi did," Aaron pointed out.

"Rossi's a profiler," Emily returned. "Of course he'll notice."

Hotch kissed the top of her head. "Maybe after this guy's a few years older we'll have another one, and he or she will look exactly like you," he remarked.

For a moment, Emily's vision went blank. A small boy's image filled her mind, but it wasn't Noah. It was someone entirely different, a curly-haired blonde boy with large blue eyes that stared at her with curiosity and a gleam of affection. All at once guilt washed over her, and she forced down a lump in her throat.


Blinking several times, Emily's vision returned to her. She looked directly over at Aaron and cocked her head to the side. "Yeah?"

"You okay?" he asked. "You got quiet all of the sudden."

Smiling tightly, she nodded. "Yeah, sorry," she murmured. "Just spaced out, I guess."

He nodded, concern flashing in his eyes for a moment. "Okay," he finally said, his lips finding her temple again. "I love you."

She turned and took his face in her hands, pressing her lips to his. "I love you, too," she whispered, resting her forehead against his.

But that night, when they were laying in their bed beneath the blankets and his arms were wrapped tightly around her, the young boy consumed her dreams, slowly slipping away from her into blackness as tears streamed down her face.

Sitting up abruptly, Emily realized her breath was coming in deep gasps. Her wine was miraculously still in her hand and not spilled all over the couch, but she felt nothing but sorrow. Leaning forward, she set the wine glass down on the coffee table before putting her head in her hands. How could her evening go from thinking about Aaron to thinking about…no, she couldn't think about him. Her heart would only feel sore, and she would be kept from sleep all night.

Sighing, her eyes drifted to the clock and she smacked her forehead. She'd fallen asleep until one o'clock.

"Time for bed, Prentiss," she muttered, getting to her feet and banishing the previous thoughts from her head. Padding to the kitchen, she tossed back the rest of her wine before sticking the glass in the dishwasher and trudging off to bed.

So here's the first chapter. As you can tell, Jack is NOT character in this story as Haley and Hotch were never married in the past for the purpose of this tale. Please review if you have a moment! I'd love to hear your thoughts :)