Yin and Yang
When things go wrong while chasing after two unsubs, Emily gets hurt, and Hotch helps ease her pain.
inspired by “sirens” by thegraytigress
rating: M for language, adult themes/situations, and canon-typical violence. the violent content could potentially be triggering to some, so read at your own discretion.
also posted on ao3
A loud crack echoed through her head as she turned the corner of the alleyway, pain shooting up her jaw as she stumbled to the ground. Hard boots kicked at her head and her sides, causing her lungs to spasm within her and stealing her breath. She prepared herself for the worst. Prepared herself for being left there to bleed out, silently suffering the pain of her injuries alone in that alleyway. That was until he rounded the corner, catching her eye and igniting a small but substantial spark of hope within her.
Never had Emily seen Hotch fight the way he did against these men. He’s not one for hand-to-hand combat, usually letting his Glock do the work for him in taking down most unsubs. But this felt personal. A matter that could be and needed to be dealt with without firing his gun. One of his own was being mercilessly beaten to the ground by two men twice her size.
He preaches about objectivity on the job. He always has. Not letting things get personal. Simply doing what needs to be done to carry out their job. But things changed with Emily. Her sense of humanity rubbed off on him, balancing out his principle of remaining objective. The reverse happened in the same way. Hotch taught her to be objective despite her fight to hold onto her sense of humanity and compassion. They keep each other balanced. She is the yin to his yang. Their opposing forces of objectivity and humanity coming together in wholeness. Interconnected. Interdependent. Complete.
The humanity in him overrode his objectivity at that moment. As Emily lie there on the cold, hard ground, dizzy and bleeding out, she looked up to see her boss take down her attackers with his bare hands. With a vigor and intensity that was unfamiliar to her. She closed her eyes then, the pain shooting from her torso to her jaw almost too much to bear.
When she opened her eyes again, the alleyway was quiet. The worn-out grunts, loud cracks of punches, and rumbling sounds of struggle had disappeared, and the only sound to be heard was Hotch’s rugged breathing. He stood there for a long moment, doubled over cradling his hands in his chest, trying to catch his breath and regain some sense of composure. The last time he lost himself like this was with Foyet. He relentlessly beat his worst enemy to death with his bare hands to protect his son, the one person in his life he loved above everyone else. Putting every ounce of his weight into each blow his fist made to Foyet’s face, rendering him almost unrecognizable.
The adrenaline that coursed through him at the sight of Emily being attacked by these men gave Hotch a near superhuman strength as he fought them off. He used every last bit of his power to protect his subordinate lying helplessly on the ground. And for a man not used to physical confrontation, Hotch did a number on Emily’s attackers.
That adrenaline wore off as he stood above the two unsubs he and Emily were chasing. Both men looked dead, unconscious on the ground covered in blood with broken noses and ribs. For a brief moment, Hotch questioned what it meant that he was willing to go to such an extreme to protect Emily. To inflict more pain on her perpetrators than necessary. But the thought left as quickly as it came, and he finally turned his attention to his subordinate lying motionless in the darkness of the alleyway.
Using whatever strength he still had, he scooped her up bridal style and carried to back to their SUV. His legs ached as he made his way along the streets of the small town. He needed to get her to the hospital, to get her checked out as quickly as possible. If the circumstances were different, he would have called an ambulance. But in this old town, it’s faster if he just takes her himself.
Emily’s eyes drifted shut again once she was in Hotch’s arms. She grasped the fabric of his shirt like her life depended on it. She could feel the ache of his arm muscles underneath her. They twitched every few seconds under the weight of her. She felt safe in his arms. Comfortable despite the sharp pains in her face and stomach. The aches subsided as sleep slowly took over her as she buried her head in Hotch’s neck.
She awoke less than an hour later, blinded by the harsh light over her. When she slowly opened her eyes again, trying to adjust to the bright lights, she looked down at herself. She was still wearing the clothes she wore to work that day, only now they were ripped in several places and covered in her own blood. She looked around the room with squinted eyes, noting it as cramped but clean. Panic started to rise within her as she questioned where she was and where Hotch was. She could feel her entire body ache as she moved her neck to look further around the room. Wincing at the pain, she moved back to her original position. She shut her eyes trying to will the pain away. That’s when she heard the faint sound of footsteps in the room and moved her head up to look at who entered the room. Once again, she flinched at the pain caused by her sudden movements.
“Prentiss, don’t try to move. Please.”
She sees him standing in the doorway in his battered up and bloody shirt, holding a cup of water. She stared at him for a long moment, completely enraptured by him. The way his white dress shirt fit tightly against his shoulders with the sleeves rolled up enough to see the veins of his forearms. Backlit from the even harsher light outside of the door, she couldn’t see his facial features very clearly, but she forced back a smile at his hair flopping over his forehead.
As he stepped out of the light towards her, the beautiful image of him vanished before her eyes. She could make out the features of his face, dark and weary but clean. He must have had time to wash the blood off of his face. He looked sad. Sad like he did just months ago after everything with Foyet. Blaming himself for the loss of so many innocent lives. Being separated from his ex-wife and son. Coping with the death of his ex-wife. She hated seeing him look so miserable—
“How are you feeling?” he said from beside her, interrupting her thoughts.
“Like I just got the shit kicked out of me,” she says matter-of-factly. His face sunk further, looking even more miserable and tired than before. “Am I in the hospital?” she asked weakly.
“Yes, I drove you here because an ambulance would have taken too long,” he said as he set the glass of water down on the table beside her. “The doctor should be here in a minute.”
“Where is everyone else?”
“I called them once we got to the SUV and told them where the unsubs were. They took care of everything and should be headed back to the hotel by now.”
She shifted higher on the bed so she could take a much-needed sip of water. As her mind became less and less foggy, her head throbbed more and more, and the bed became increasingly uncomfortable.
Hotch watched her carefully as she took a sip of water from the cup he brought her. Her arms were clearly weak, shaking as they brought the cup to her lips. He wanted so badly to reach out and hold the cup for her, to help her in any way he could. But he knew she would hate that. She doesn’t like to be coddled. Much like him, she doesn’t want to be dependent on someone else or feel like she’s a burden. That’s just one of the many things he saw in her that he felt mirrored himself.
When the doctor strode through the door, Hotch took the cup from Emily’s hands, setting it back down on the bedside table. Emily frowned as she lay back against the bed, wanting at least one more sip. She almost felt addicted to the way the water gave her some relief.
The doctor took a look at her, clearly in a rush for some reason or another. She asked Emily a series of questions, palpated her abdomen, and examined some of the cuts on her face and stomach. It took everything in Emily to remain calm as the doctor prodded at her stomach with her cold hands. She never did like hospitals. The atmosphere of pain, fear, and helplessness. The harsh smells and sounds. It made her feel cold and closed in. She wanted nothing more than a reassuring look from her boss, telling her it’ll all be okay. But Hotch, ever the gentleman, faced the other direction when the doctor lifted Emily’s shirt to examine her chest and stomach.
The doctor quickly concluded, telling them that Emily has a concussion and some bruised ribs. No bones were broken and none of the cuts on her needed stitches. She left the room in a hurry, and a nurse came in with some pain medication and a plastic bag with ointment, wipes, and bandages to treat and soothe Emily’s gashes and scrapes. The nurse also brought in a wheelchair to help Hotch take Emily back to the SUV.
“I don’t need a wheelchair,” Emily said trying to shoo the nurse out of the room.
“We will take the wheelchair. Thank you,” Hotch said giving the nurse an apologetic look. She passed him the wheelchair and left as fast as she could, clearly not wanting to have anything to do with these two adults griping at one another over a wheelchair.
“Hotch, I don’t—”
“Please, Prentiss, just let me help you into the wheelchair,” he said slowly and tiredly. She was too worn out to put up much of a fight. She also didn’t want to put Hotch out more than she already had by trying to argue with him.
He slid his arms underneath her legs and back and lifted her into the wheelchair. She reveled in the feeling of his toned and solid arms around her, supportive and protective. Emily had no idea how he still had enough strength in his arms to lift her up again. She was doing nothing to help him either, practically dead weight in his arms. She figured his arms would be dead tired after fighting off two grown men and then carrying her sleeping body to the SUV and into the hospital. He was always surprising her really. She was constantly in awe of his resilience and toughness. Wearing suits to work each day did nothing but hide the true robustness of his body and what it was capable of. She was grateful any time she got to see him in something other than a perfectly tailored suit. Nothing compared to the private excitement she felt seeing his bare forearms and biceps on days he wore polos to work in the field. Often finding herself staring for much longer than deemed appropriate, especially in a workplace setting, wondering what it felt like to be held in those arms. She never thought that when she would finally be held by him, it would be like this. Both of them feeling weak and exhausted, wanting nothing more than to just fall asleep.
Emily didn’t say a word as he wheeled her out of the hospital to the SUV. Too drained to even ask to give a penny for her thoughts, he let the comfortable silence remain amongst them all the way back to the hotel. Because it was nearing 2 A.M, the rest of the team was already asleep in their rooms by the time Emily and Hotch got back.
Hotch took her by surprise once again when he followed her to her hotel room. A strange feeling of anxiety rose within her, as she started to feel like an annoyance. She doesn’t like asking for help, much less needing help. But Hotch was being so patient, so attentive. While he looked tired, he gave no signs that would suggest him feeling like Emily was in any way a burden. So really, her anxiety was unnecessary. And she knows Hotch. She knows he takes care of people fiercely and persistently no matter what. He feels responsible for people, especially his teammates. Even so, Emily still felt guilty making him feel like he has to take care of her.
“You didn’t have to walk me in here, you know.”
“I know,” he said casually as he set her medication and the plastic bag down on the bedside table.
Emily was instantly reminded of this same exchange that happened several months ago in Hotch’s apartment.
“You didn’t have to walk me up here, you know.”
Only that time, the roles were reversed. It was Emily taking care of Hotch. Going out of her way to make sure he wasn’t alone when he was hurting. She told him he wasn’t alone, that he had her. Of course not outright. Hotch and Emily had developed a unique way of communicating with one another. A sort of secret language where they can communicate so much with so few words. Or have a conversation within another conversation, like they had that day in his apartment. Emily didn’t have to tell hotch she was helping him through one of the darkest, saddest, most traumatic times in his life. Instead, she was a gentle voice of support. A presence of healing for him. She didn’t need to explicitly tell him she’s there for him and will never leave his side because he already knew.
Within the walls of that small, dilapidated hotel room, the tables had been turned. Now, it was Hotch comforting Emily willingly and fearlessly when she needed it most. He’s subtle, not overbearing. Offing himself as a rock for her to help her ground herself and get better.
But Emily was hesitant to accept this offer. Because it meant letting someone in, breaking down her walls, being vulnerable, needing help. Hotch had been through enough trauma that year. She didn’t want to add to that. Because she knows he would take on a part of her trauma and pain as his. She couldn’t live with herself if she was ever part of the reason he was unhappy.
“Seriously, Hotch, I don’t want to put you out more than I already have tonight. Go to your room and sleep. You’re just as beaten up as I am,” she tried, wincing as she sat on the bed. Her legs were too wobbly for her to keep standing. It hit her then that Hotch never asked to get checked out by a doctor at the hospital despite having been in a brawl with two large men. It made her stomach lurch with guilt thinking that Hotch was ignoring his own injuries just so he could help her with hers.
“I’m fine,” He wasn’t. But that didn’t matter, not right now. “I’ll get you some water so you can take your pain meds,” he continued, walking towards her bathroom.
Done trying to override his stubbornness with her own, she sighed in submission. Flinching as she did so, a sharp pain shooting through her ribs to her chest. She had no clue how she’d made it so long without taking some of that pain medication. The doctors and nurses were in such a hurry to get the two of them out of there that they didn’t even administer her any medication. She felt a soreness in her chest every time she breathed, forcing her to only take shallow breaths.
Hotch returned with a full cup of water, handing it to Emily then retrieving two pills of her prescribed pain meds.
“Tilt your head ba—”
“I can take my own pills,” she snapped, snatching the two pills from the palm of his large hand. After quickly swallowing the two white pills, she was hit with a pang of guilt yet again. This time for snapping at Hotch. He didn’t deserve that. He was just trying to help.
“Hotch, I’m sorry I snapped I know you’re just trying to—”
“It’s fine,” he stopped her. The look on his face had softened. His eyes were patient, composed. “Really. Let’s get you cleaned up and take care of some of these gashes,” he continued, gesturing towards her face.
Emily hated herself for snapping at him. Suddenly she felt like more a burden than she did before. More like a pain in Hotch’s ass at this point. What was she doing bitching and moaning at him? He was being everything she needed at that moment, offering to be her rock, and she kept trying to shut him down. She wasn’t used to this, having someone attend to her so persistently and remain patient with her when she starts being difficult. She’s used to people leaving. Abandoning her when she becomes too much to handle, too much for someone else to bear. She’d grown to deal with it, learned to just take care of herself, not put her trust in anyone else but herself. But Hotch stayed. And he wanted to stay.
He reached for the bag on the bedside table with everything he needed to dress the cuts all over her. He knelt before her, wiping off his hands with one of the wipes from the bag. Taking a new, clean wipe he held it over the gash on her cheek. “This is probably going to hurt,” he warned. She nodded slowly, closing her eyes to brace herself. He wiped away the dried blood on and around the wound. Her eyes started to water. Not from the pain or soreness. But because of how gentle he was. He held her chin and cleaned her swollen face like she was the most precious thing in the world, like she could break at any moment, crumble underneath his fingers.
He watched as she pulled her bottom lip between her teeth, biting back tears. The thought of causing her pain made his heart ache inside his chest. He wanted nothing more than to soothe her pain, help her heal. He grabbed the tube of antiseptic and squeezed some onto the tip of his finger. “This is going to sting,” he said firmly, trying to hide how much it hurt him seeing her in pain and discomfort. She didn’t say anything, just squeezed her eyes shut a little tighter than before. He slowly dabbed a bit of the clear ointment on her cheek.
“Ow! Fuck,” Emily cried, pulling away from him.
“I need you to hold still—”
“Just forget it, Hotch. I don’t even need it,” she tried, still facing away from him. The gash on her cheekbone began to throb and sting. It felt like fire spreading across the entire left side of her face. She started to feel ridiculous. She’s suffered through pain more intolerable and agonizing than this. “You can just go. I can do this on my own.” She didn’t really want him to leave, to abandon her like everyone else always did. She found comfort in his presence, under his care.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he said firmly, his tone still soft and reassuring despite his deep, baritone voice. If he was feeling annoyed or impatient, he certainly didn’t show it. “Now, please just try to hold still. I know it hurts.”
Pain pulsated through Emily’s chest as she took a deep breath trying to calm herself. She hated losing her temper, especially with Hotch, especially when he was trying to help her. This was now the third time she’s lost her cool at him tonight. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, turning her head to face him again. She blinked away her tears, trying to regroup. Only for the urge to cry to come rushing back when Hotch continued to smear the antiseptic over her wound, once again feeling overwhelmed by the tenderness with which he touched her face. She stared at him, mesmerized by his focus. He caught her staring, meeting her eyes as he pulled his hand away from her face. Neither of them looked away for what felt like forever. The intimacy of it all made Emily’s heart race, even though they found themselves in this situation often, completely absorbed in mutual eye contact, unable to look away, allowing themselves to feel the uncomfortable excitement and unease turn into a sense of peace and closeness.
The moment ended as Hotch turned away, feeling inexplicably shy under her intense gaze. He quickly busied himself with the gauze and tape to dress her wound. With the same attentiveness and focus as before, he held the gauze against her cheek and taped it in place.
Everything just became too much. Emily’s eyes quickly welled up with tears, a rush of emotions overwhelming her. She was sad, angry, hurting in every sense of the word.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, concern and worry apparent in his voice. “Am I hurting you?”
She shook her head as she broke down into a violent sob. Fear and panic immediately displayed across Hotch’s face. He wasn’t hurting her, and she didn’t want him to think he was. But it was all too much. Pain burned and ripped through her whole body. She felt so weak, so frail. The pain medication doing nothing to relieve her of the torment of aches that spread from her face down to her legs. She saw him get up from his position on the floor, moving to sit next to her on the edge of the bed. The feeling of his hand starting to rub her back only caused her flood gates to open further, her sobs growing even more violent. Even sitting up straight became too much, took a level of energy and effort she could not give. So she leaned into him, buried her swollen face into his shoulder. He automatically brought one of his hands to her head and kept the other on her back, holding her against him, careful with his touch as if he were handling a fragile baby bird.
Sobbed continued to rack through her whole body. She was shaking, trembling, gasping for air against Hotch’s shoulder. “Shhh,” he whispered, so quiet that she could barely hear it. His hands moved in slow, gentle circles across her back. “It’s going to be okay. You’re okay. You’re safe. I got you. I’m right here,” he soothed with a slight hitch, trying to hold back tears of his own. She doesn’t say anything, just cries and cries, not knowing if she will ever be able to stop. With each sob, Hotch’s heart broke, cracking into pieces. He rarely saw her break down like this. She was an expert at compartmentalizing her emotions, filing them away to be dealt with at a later time, alone. He could see how their job affected her. The way madness pervaded her mind, how turmoil infiltrated her heart. Yet, there was a stillness in her soul. A sense of hope and courage that radiated from her and could be felt by everyone in her wake. She put on a brave face, a strong and confident exterior. Her world could be falling apart at the seams and even those closest to her would hardly suspect anything was wrong.
The fear and panic in Hotch’s chest only grew as she sobbed into him. “Everything hurts, Hotch,” she said, almost incoherently.
He was taken back to Colorado. The sounds of Emily getting kicked and thrown around by Benjamin Cyrus replaying in this head. Images of a broken and battered Emily emerging from the compound. He remembered the bruising on the palm of his hands left from digging his fingers into them as he heard Emily get thrown against a wall, knowing he could do nothing to help her or save her without jeopardizing the lives of everyone inside the compound. To him, she was worth the risk. The only thing that kept him from risking everything to save her was her reassuring “I can take it.” He remembered the guilt he felt listening to Emily take each blow. If he hadn’t sent them undercover, she wouldn’t have been in that position in the first place. If he had been more careful about restricting media coverage of the hostage situation, her cover wouldn’t have been compromised. He blamed himself for everything that happened to Emily that day, and now, with her crying in his arms, history repeats itself. He felt responsible for her getting hurt again.
“I know. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” Hotch whispered into her hair. The comfort of his words and his touch made her breathing slow, her sobs grow quieter, her hands stop shaking. “This is all my fault,” he breathed. Her heart split in two the moment those words fell from his lips. Her sobs came to a halt as she slowly pulled away from him, noticing the huge wet spot on the shoulder of his shirt from her tears.
She couldn’t let him blame himself for this. He was the one who saved her for God’s sake. He had no reason to feel guilty. “It’s not your fault, Hotch,” she tried, searching his face and only finding guilt and shame across his features.
“If I hadn’t got caught up in the crowds on the side of the street I would have gotten to that alley first. It should’ve been me.”
“That wasn’t in your control, Hotch. This is no one’s fault but the men who attacked me,” she said, her voice quiet and weak.
“Even if I had just gotten to the alley sooner—”
“Hotch,” she interrupted, starting to get a little agitated, “it really doesn’t matter. There was nothing you could have done. You can’t pin this on yourself.”
He locks eyes with her. “But it does matter” he hesitates, “because you got hurt.”
She couldn’t bring herself to say anything. She only looked down at her hands in her lap. Everything started to hurt all over again. Her head and heart ached from having to talk him down. She missed his touch, his warmth as he held her close to him. Her ribs and stomach still hurt with each breath she took. She was physically and emotionally drained. She just wanted to sleep the pain away.
It startled her when he suddenly stood up from the bed, causing it to creak loudly in the quiet room. She flinched at the sound, her concussion making her sensitive.
“Lay down,” he instructed gently. She complied willingly, trying to make up for being so damn difficult the past hour, hating that he felt guilty for her getting hurt, also wanting to just lay down finally. As she moved to lay down on the bed, though, she wavered, suddenly feeling incredibly dizzy. The whole room spun and moved around her. “Hey, hey, hey,” he whispered, gently holding her head between his hands to steady her. “Are you okay? Are you feeling dizzy?” he asked worriedly. She couldn’t answer, the blows she took to her head catching up to her. The bed felt like it was moving underneath her. She closed her eyes in an attempt to will away the vertigo. “Hey, hey, look at me,” Hotch said in the softest tone Emily had ever heard from a man. “Emily, please look at me.”
Her eyes snapped open. That sure got her attention. And almost made her even more lightheaded. There was something so… intimate about Hotch calling her by her first name. Especially in this position with Hotch holding her face less than a foot away from his own, searching for her eyes, trying to make eye contact. He always called her Prentiss, always had. Even though he’s called her Emily on a few occasions, it still sounded a bit foreign to her coming from him. She’d never quite understood why he religiously called her by her last name. Her guess was that he was trying to distance himself from her. Didn’t want to get too close, too involved. Needed to set boundaries.
At least, that’s what she hoped the reason was.
Because that would mean he felt something between them the way she did. After Foyet, things changed between them. They spent more time together, blurred the line between being coworkers and being friends. She spent time at his apartment, helping him with household chores he couldn’t do without stretching the stitches in his chest and stomach. She took him to and from work much more than could be deemed necessary. They shared drinks after hours in his office, sometimes with the company of Dave as well. They were no longer just coworkers, speaking to one another only at work and about work. They grew into something more, and Emily wondered if Hotch felt that way about them too. She hoped he felt that way, hoped it explained why he still only called her Prentiss.
“Emily,” he repeated, eyes finally meeting hers. “Are you alright?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m good,” she manages, “I just got a little dizzy there for a sec.”
“Okay. Are you able to lie down now?”
“Yeah, I think so.” God, she felt so pathetic.
“Just take it slow, okay? Take your time,” he said moving his hand to the back of her head to guide it down slowly onto the pillow. If it could even be called a pillow. It was hard and lumpy, did nothing to make Emily feel comfortable in an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar town. He watched as she tried to reposition her head on the pillow, wincing as she did so. “Feel better?” he asked.
She nodded, taking a shaky and painful deep breath. After laying down for a few seconds, the throbbing in her ribs and back faded into a weak soreness. She closed her eyes, savoring the relief she felt. She wanted to fall asleep right then and there, to take advantage of this brief moment of stillness.
Hotch observed the way her face relaxed. Her brow no longer creased; her jaw no longer clenched. She looked so peaceful lying there with her hands over her heart. He felt the corners of his lips curl up slightly. He didn’t want to disturb her, but he still needed to clean and dress some of the cuts and scrapes on her torso. His heart started to race when he thought about what that meant. He would have to undress her. His subordinate.
He would be lying if he said he never took notice of her looks before. She was a beautiful woman, radiantly so. She lit up every room she entered. It was impossible not to look at her, notice her. He would be ashamed to admit he’s caught himself looking at her in ways no boss should look at their subordinate. On days where she wore that one red tank top, he had to actively keep himself from staring at her chest, watching how it rose and fell with each breath she took. On nights off at a bar with the team, he found himself entranced by the way her hips would sway to the music, wearing a pair of tight, skinny jeans. He felt guilty looking at her like that. He doubts she would appreciate her boss checking her out. Even in the hospital room a few hours ago, he turned his back to her when the doctor lifted Emily’s shirt. He’d hate to make her feel awkward or uncomfortable. Now, he would have to be the one to lift her shirt and tend to her wounds.
He carefully placed a hand on her shoulder to get her attention, not wanting to startle her and add to the stress her body was already experiencing. “Hey,” he whispered, “I’m going to need to lift your shirt okay?” She slowly opened her eyes. “I need to clean and cover up some of the cuts and scrapes you have,” he said shyly, hoping he wasn’t coming off as awkward as he felt.
She nodded slowly, slightly amused by Hotch’s clear discomfort. He was cute when he was flustered and awkward.
He didn’t waste any more time, moving to lift the hem of her shirt up towards her chest. He was caught off guard by the look her torso, cut up and scraped with black and blue bruises starting to form around her ribs. Tears threatened to fall from his eyes. He hadn’t seen the extent of her injuries beyond her face. He wasn’t expecting it to be as bad as it was.
She noticed him staring at her with tears in his eyes, the pain from seeing such a horrified look on his face is almost worse than her injuries. “It’s not as bad as it looks, Hotch,” she tried. She remembered saying those exact words to Reid at the compound in Colorado, her face swollen and bruised from sacrificing her life for him. No matter what she said, Reid still blamed himself for what happened to her, much like Hotch does now. She lifted her head slightly to get a look for herself, quickly seeing how much darker her bruises had become since the doctor checked them out in the hospital. No wonder breathing and the mere thought of moving hurt so badly.
“I’m so sorry,” he mumbled, not able to tear his eyes away from the injuries across her entire torso. She lifted her hand, with whatever strength she had left, to stop him from apologizing any further. She just couldn’t bear it, couldn’t handle listening to him beat himself up for something that was not his fault.
Blinking away tears and snapping himself out of his daze, he composed himself enough to grab another wet wipe to clean her torso. “This is going to hurt,” he warned again, “Let me know if it’s too much.”
She nodded, once again closing her eyes to prepare herself for the inevitable pain that would come from any pressure applied to her stomach. He slowly wiped at the skin across her ribs. He was so unbelievably careful, but it was agonizing. A muffled groan escaped her lips before she could stop it. “Too much?” he asked. She shook her head, encouraging him to continue. She wanted to get this over with, and she was sure he did too. The sooner he got this done, the sooner she could go to sleep and forget about the pain for a while. He continued cleaning her skin and the cuts just under her bra. She bit back her moans as best she could, not wanting to alarm him. She’d done enough of that the past few hours.
“I need to lift your shirt further up. Is that okay?” he asked timidly. He’s so damn polite she thought to herself.
“Just take it off,” she said, not thinking much of it. That was, until she saw his look of confusion and uncertainly. “It’ll make it easier,” she suggested, trying to relieve him of his doubts, “and I want to change out of it anyway. It’s all torn up and bloody.” He nodded, still feeling hesitant. In any other context, this would be so wrong. Undressing his subordinate while alone in a hotel room. But he wasn’t going to deny her request. If it made her more comfortable, he would do it. He would do anything for her. Anything.
As she lifted her arms above her head, he stripped the shirt from her, leaving her in only her bra and slacks. It would be a total lie if she said she never fantasized about this moment. She frequently indulged in the thought of him, her boss, undressing her. Never did she think it would happen under these circumstances. There was nothing sexy about what happened to them, what brought them to this moment.
There was a bruise across the swell of one of her breasts and a small scrape on the other. With the same gentleness as before, he cleaned the dried blood from her chest. When he began to wipe the other side of her chest, Emily let out a hiss, the skin and tissue there particularly tender and sore to the touch.
“This is the worst part. I’m sorry in advance,” he said, referring to the ointment he would have to put on the cuts and scraped all over her torso.
“It’s fine. I’m fine,” she assured him. “Let’s just get this over with.”
As he did minutes before, he squeezed some of the clear gel onto his finger. Emily yelped the moment the cool gel made contact with her angry, swollen skin. “Here,” he said handing her the shirt he had just discarded from her moments ago, “Bite into this.” She closed her teeth around the fabric, clenching tightly as she waited for him to continue. A muffled cry coming from her mouth when he applied more of the gel to her inflamed cuts and scrapes. He worked as quickly as he could while keeping his touch soft and light. He hoped she couldn’t tell how much this was affecting him. Hearing her muffled cries, touching her broken and swollen skin, feeling her body tense under his care, it was almost unbearable.
He started bandaging up some of the deeper cuts on her torso, both of them relieved that the worst of it was over for now.
Emily’s usually not one to be shy, especially about her body, but she felt incredibly vulnerable and anxious lying there in only her bra and work pants, covered in ugly bruises and scrapes. She felt exposed, her wounds fresh, open, and throbbing, her flesh sore and tender. As much as she wanted to cover herself, the thought of moving was painful in and of itself. So she declined when he offered to help her into a new shirt from her go bag. “I really just want to sleep right now,” she said, exhausted from the pain and the pain medication making her drowsy. He nodded, taking her bloody shirt from her and putting all of the supplies back into the plastic bag they came in.
The world slowly dimmed as she nodded off to sleep, her hands returning to the position over her heart like before. The all-consuming pain from moments ago faded into nothing when sleep finally took over.
He watched her as she slept, once again transfixed by her peaceful expression. He couldn’t find it in him to sleep despite how much his body practically begged for it. He was devoted to watching over her. Like a kind of vigil, a reverent and purposeful wakefulness, making sure no more harm could be inflicted upon her.
Several months ago, the roles were reversed. Emily watched over Hotch as he slept, worried and waiting. Her face was the first thing he saw when he woke. Her presence a comforting light despite the panic that rose within him from waking up in a hospital room not remembering any of the events that brought him there. If he was being honest, there’s no other face he would have wanted to see at that moment.
When Emily woke a few hours later, she saw him, sitting in an armchair in the dark, watching her. Has he been here the whole fucking time? she thought to herself, somewhat pissed at him for not getting some rest himself. He needed it just as much as she did.
“What the hell, Hotch,” she groans into the silence of the room. “You didn’t have to stay here.”
“I wanted to. How are you feeling?”
“Still hurts to move. Or breathe,” she responded frankly. “How long was I out?”
“Only a few hours. The sun’s not even up yet.”
She sighed, her chest twitching in discomfort. Thankfully, the pain meds had yet to wear off, and the pain extending from her stomach to her head was reduced to dull aches.
She reached up to feel the bandage on her cheek, only to be reprimanded by Hotch, telling her not to touch it so it stays clean. “But it itches,” she grumbled, still feeling tired and agitated even after sleeping for a few hours. He stared at her, getting up from his seat in the armchair and walking towards her. He calmly pulled her hand away from her face and set it back onto her chest. The gesture caused her eyes to brim with tears, once again overwhelmed by the gentleness of him, of his hands. It amazed her that the same strong hands that took down evil in the world each day were the same gentle hands that touched her, cared for her.
He sat on the edge of the bed looking down at her, seeing the way her eyes got shiny with tears. “What’s wrong?”
She sniffled and tried blinking away her tears, feeling silly for crying over the gentleness of his hands. “Nothing. It’s all just,” she sniffled again, “it’s just a lot. And I’m still tired. Did you even sleep?”
“Don’t worry about me.”
“How am I not supposed to worry? You brawled with two men twice my size, carried me in your arms for like a half-mile, and you still haven’t slept.”
“Emily,” he started.
“Don’t ‘Emily’ me,” she interrupted with a little too much bitterness in her voice. “I’m not going to sit by and watch you kill yourself just to help me. It’s not worth it.”
“But you are.”
Her eyes shot open. She stared at him in disbelief. Her whole body goes numb, and she can hardly breathe. There are no words that could express how she felt then. She’s terrified, stunned, and completely speechless. It’s just not possible. He can’t feel that way. He just can’t. She’s not worth that. She could never be worth that.
Sensing her shock, he placed his hand over hers on her chest, not sure if it would do anything to help, but it felt right. She shifted up on the bed, wincing slightly as she sat against the headboard, his hand still over hers in her lap. He mindlessly ran the pad of his thumb over the back of her hand.
“Hotch, you can’t say that,” she said, shaking her head, staring at their hands in her lap. “I’m not your burden to carry.”
“You’re not a burden. Sure, you can be a piece of work sometimes, but you’re worth the work. It’s work I’m willing to do. It’s work I want to do. You still deserve to be cared for. You deserve someone who is willing to do the work to care for you. It doesn’t make you a burden,” he squeezed her hand, silently telling her to look at him, “You are not a burden,” he repeated once she looked him in the eyes, tearing falling down her cheeks. He reached up to gently wipe away a heavy tear from her cheek.
The intimacy of the whole situation made Emily’s head spin. Excitement, nausea, fear, and anticipation bubbled up inside her. Before she could stop herself, she brought her lips to his in a tentative kiss. For a moment she panics, thinking that maybe she read him completely wrong, and she just ruined their entire friendship. But when she pulled away, his head followed hers, leaning in for more, craving more of her. Their lips met again, timid and hesitant at first, but the kiss quickly grew more intense, full of passion, need, and desire.
She had wanted this for so long, wanted him for so long, but he was always off-limits. He was her boss for Christ’s sake. It was explicitly against fraternization policies to be involved like this. It was wrong on so many levels, but no matter how foolish, crazy, and reckless this was, she didn’t care, and neither did he. This hungry and desperate kiss felt like an explosion of pent-up emotions, feelings they’ve had to stifle for months, years even. This kiss set them free.
He moved his hand behind her head with his lips still on her, guiding her head back down to the useless pillow beneath her. His heart pounded loudly in his ears. This was such a bad idea. This could ruin the friendship they’ve created and fostered in the past year. It could ruin any sense of professionalism between them at work. It was a risk, but it was a risk he wanted to take.
He climbed over her, covering her body with his, careful not to crush her fragile frame. He opened his mouth up to hers, letting her explore him, taste him. The feel of her tongue against his sent waves of electricity down his spine. He felt sparks between his hands and her skin with every touch. She was electrifying. He had never felt more alive than he did then, with her.
He broke the kiss to lean back and strip himself of his shirt, revealing his muscular, toned torso with a number of scars and some light bruises from the events of that night. Emily was transfixed, staring in wonderment at the beautiful man above her. She reached out to lightly run her hands down his chest, feeling his skin and muscles react under her touch. “Perfect,” she whispered so softly only she could hear it. He leaned back down to capture her lips again with his own. She ran her hands up his chest and shoulders, reveling in the firmness of him. She brought her hands to his back, feeling his muscles tense and relax as he moved his lips against hers. The feel of him was intoxicating. The taste of him was intoxicating. She never wanted this to end.
She let out a shaky breath as he kissed down the column of her neck. He sucked lightly on her vibrating pulse, tasting her skin, inhaling her scent. She gasped when he placed a feather-light kiss over the bruise on the swell of her breast. Waves of pleasure washing through her, drowning out the pain. He pulled away as he brought his arm around her back, looking at her for permission to remove her bra. She nodded breathlessly, missing the feel of his lips. He made quick work of unclasping her bra, discarding it onto the floor as he reunited his lips with her skin. He lightly licked at the skin between her breasts then moved his mouth to cover her nipple. She threw her head back with a moan and ran her fingers through his hair, holding him to her, anchoring herself to him.
He moved his attention to her other breast, licking and sucking at her nipple. Her skin was soft and warm under his tongue. He kissed every inch of her chest. “Perfect,” he whispered back to her against her skin, letting her know he heard her just moments before. She was just that. Perfect. He continued worshipping her skin, kissing every bruise, licking every curve.
She writhed beneath him, ribs too sore to arch into his touch, tape from her bandages tugging at her skin. She failed to bite back a cry, making him stop in his tracks, pulling away to look at her, to make sure she’s okay. Her eyes pleaded him to continue as she brought her hands to his belt, unbuckling and removing it swiftly despite her shaking hands. She grasped him through the fabric of his pants. His hips bucked into her hand, searching for friction to relieve him from the ache of his erection. She slid her hand into his boxers to grab the length of him. He was hot and heavy in her hand as she stroked him slowly, agonizingly so.
He leaned back down to plant slow, wet kisses across the sensitive skin of her neck. She had never been kissed with such affection and reverence before. It sent shockwaves of pleasure through her, desire rushing to her core, a throbbing ache between her legs. He slid his hand between them, unbuttoning and unzipping her slacks. He found her wet and ready for him when he slipped his hand beneath her legs. Her desire for him became frantic and frenzied. She slid her hand from his pants to hurriedly remove her own.
She wanted him, and she wanted him now.
She wiggled out of her pants as much as her aching body would allow. Hotch slid her pants and panties the rest of the way down her legs and threw them to the floor. He stepped off the bed to remove his own pants and boxers. She whined at the loss of his heat over her. It was almost torturous being separated from his body, from his touch.
He joined her back on the bed, crushing her lips with a deep, bruising kiss. The weight of him above her kept her grounded and secure, blanketing over her small and fragile form. She gripped him once more, impressed by the length and thickness of him. He groaned into her mouth, his cock painfully hard, throbbing and dripping in her hand.
His hand trailed across her chest to her stomach, finally reaching her folds. His touch sent shivers up her spine. She threw her head back against the pillow beneath her, letting out a breathy moan. His touch was as gentle as it had been all night, his soft strokes contrasting his rough, firm hands. He eased one finger into her, kissing her as he did so, stifling her moan. She clawed at the skin on his back as he fingered her with a precision and dexterity she had never experienced with another man. It was achingly intimate. He brushed his thumb against her clit with each gentle stroke. The sensation had her shuddering underneath him, writhing into his skillful hand.
“Please,” she whispered against his lips, aching for him to be inside her. She spread her legs wider and wrapped them around his waist, urging him closer to her. He slowly drew his finger from her, bringing his hand up to cradle her face, as his other rubbed up the back of her thigh. Reaching down she lined him up with her core.
She gasped when he entered her, the thickness of him almost too much to handle at first. He stilled, letting her adjust to his size. When she licked her lips and nodded, he pushed in further with a groan, sheathing himself completely inside her.
After months of silent longing and waiting, they were finally one, two souls fused together to make a whole.
She had never felt so full, so complete. The pleasure was all-consuming, a raging fire burning within her. When he began to thrust into her, she held onto him, grasping at his back as if holding on for dear life. With only a hair’s breadth between them, she basked in the heart of his form. The pressure of him on top of her, inside of her, it was a blissful pain. There was nothing like it, nothing that could compare to the pleasure of it.
Hotch shook above her, overwhelmed by the feeling of her beneath him and around him. His thrusts were deep, slow, and careful. It took all of his strength not to increase to the frantic pace he craved. He wanted this to last, but this slow rhythm didn’t match his frenzied, borderline feral, need for her.
He wrapped his hand around her ankle and moved it over his shoulder, changing the angle of his thrusts. Capturing her mouth with his own, he muffled her cry at the angle change. With each stroke, he brushed against the sweet spot inside her, making her tremble beneath him. When he felt her walls tighten around him, he sped up his pace, throwing caution to the wind. She felt so good around him, and it had been so long. He completely lost any and all semblance of control. Sensing her impending orgasm, he brought his hand between them to flick her clit.
She felt the familiar heat build in her stomach as he worked her higher and higher. She convulsed when he lowered his head to suck on her pulse point. Her orgasm ripped through her with a strength she didn’t know was possible. “Aaron,” she cried out. The name slipped from her lips so naturally it was as if she had been calling him that her whole life when really, this was the first time.
He loved the way his name sounded on her lips, the intimacy of it making his head spin.
He pulled away to watch in awe as her body shook at the force of her orgasm, slowing his pace, gently moving in and out of her as she rode out the waves of fire tearing through her.
Her moan echoed in the small room. Hotch brought his lips to hers once more to swallow each groan and cry, feeling her body begin to relax. He began to drive into her at a frantic pace, chasing his own release. He was so close, and she was so tight around him, the sensation was almost too much. He panted in her ear, on the edge, on the brink of falling over. “Let go,” she whispered in his ear, still breathless from her own climax.
“Emily,” he groaned as his body tensed, bowstring tight as he trembled at the intensity of his orgasm. The tension left his body as quickly as it came, and he fell limp beside her, still conscious of her injuries, careful not to crush her body with his own.
He pulled her into his embrace, kissing down her neck as the pleasure faded. She didn’t want it to end. She knew that once the pleasure left, the pain would return. So, she drifted off the sleep, the only thing she could do to hold off the pain that was sure to engulf her.
The room fell silent. He held her as she slept, listened to her breath become even and her heart rate slow within her chest. He wanted this feeling to last forever. What that feeling was? Comfort. Security. Happiness. Trust. Healing.
He loved her. She completed him. She made him feel one again, after all he had lost. He wanted to be with her forever. He wanted to live the rest of his life with her. The yin to his yang. Together embracing the dualities of each other and life. The ups and the downs. The beautiful and the ugly. The good times and the bad. The joys and the challenges. The light and the dark.
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