A Bandage to Cover Wounds

Disclaimer: Not mine.
Spoiler: Placed pre 05.08 "Outfoxed"
Summary: Set in early Season 5. Missing his family and depressed by the current events, Hotch behaves out of character. Will he and Emily be able to handle the consequences?
Thanks to lily moonlight for helping me out once again!

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"Just because you love someone doesn't mean you have to be involved with them. Love is not a bandage to cover wounds." Hugh Elliott

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The first time Aaron Hotchner kissed Emily Prentiss wasn't about love. It was a Thursday and he kissed her standing on the floor of his apartment. He kissed her out of desperation, because he wanted to move on, because he had given up. He kissed her because she was there and he wanted to feel something other than his fear. He kissed her because he had lost one more day to Foyet. He kissed her because no matter what he did, Foyet had won again. Nothing mattered. So he might as well kiss Emily Prentiss.

She had accompanied him home. She did that a lot these days, accompanying him. Following him, observing him. Being there for him. Sometimes the way she looked at him was the only thing that made him feel alive. Sometimes when she brought him home, he felt guilty because for a few seconds he shifted from surviving to living under her gaze.

Three years ago, when she had first stood in his office he had briefly thought about kissing her. A flickering impression of her mouth on his had sped through his mind. He was a man, she was beautiful, everything perfectly normal. He never thought he would ever act on that, not even after Haley divorced him. He never stopped feeling guilty because of it though. He didn't stop fantasizing about kissing Emily either. He was a man and she got more and more beautiful every day.

Everything perfectly normal.

And now Haley and Jack were gone because he had failed to keep them safe again and again. Every day he failed them and they had to suffer. He had to suffer. He missed them so much, sometimes his whole body was numb from the pain. Haley and Jack were gone and he was free. Depressingly free. Depressingly not belonging to anybody. Lonely. Lost. She was there and he wanted to connect. So he kissed her. Perfectly normal, right? Right?

Today Emily followed him into the small floor of his apartment. She had that look in her eyes. The same one she wore when she had brought him home after his first case since Foyet had stabbed him.

Another Thursday, that Thursday they discussed the case but they both knew, they were talking about him and before she turned around, there was a moment where he wasn't sure if she would leave or would close the gap between them to hold him.

She left without touching him and he was grateful for that. Not that he hadn't wanted her to touch him, oh no. He had longed for it even, almost desperately wanted it. But if she would've touched him, would've hugged him, he would have lost it right there and kissed her. But back then he hadn't been ready for the implications of that kiss. Back then he had still clung on to the idea that he might defeat Foyet.

But today… It had been six months now since Haley and Jack had gone into witness protection. Six months. Half a year. Half a year and he still had no clue where Foyet was hiding.

And Emily… She came close, tonight. She followed him into his pathetic apartment and almost bumped into him as he stopped to throw his keys on the counter. He expected her to step back but she grabbed his right arm and made him turn around to face her.

She said his name, her voice barely audible. The pitiful look in her eyes almost broke his heart.

So he kissed her. Just grabbed her by her arms, pulled her close and pressed his mouth against hers. His hands wandered from her arms to her back, his left one stopped at her waist. First she didn't respond and he felt her tense in his arms, but then her lips softened and she opened her mouth to him with a sigh. Her arms wrapped around his neck. She tasted sweet and like coffee.

They were connected. Something inside him rang the alarm, something he had so conveniently put into boxes inside boxes inside of him. He was connected to her. That recognition felt familiar like an old, dusty memory. He was connected to her. Not only physically, not just his lips on hers, but something else. After all, this kiss was about love too.

Then she broke away. Her hands on his shoulders, she took two steps back. Away from him and closer to the door. She didn't even look at him before she turned around and left.

Somehow, he felt relieved. Like somehow all this hadn't been about connecting but about severing ties, about cutting a string. And this felt like a clean cut.


To be continued… Obviously. Like I could ever let you hanging without a happy end! I have two more chapters planned and I could use a little motivation. So, as always, I'd love to hear from you guys. Feedback is like cyber-chocolate. :)